November 19, 2016

At the concert of Lux Musica

Honoured Social Welfare Counsellor
Miina Sillanpää

Somewhere out there

Dear Miina,

First of all, I dare to call you by your first name, as it is a custom in 2016. Times and customs change – but not quite everything. We have celebrated your activities throughout the year, now that a hundred and fifty years have passed from your birth!

Finland will celebrate her 100th year next year too. Our country has changed quite a bit. In spite of a difficult beginning, Finland is now considered as one of the Nordic welfare states. We stand out in leading positions in many international surveys and fortunately score low in negative issues.

We are particularly appreciated in terms of education – that is, both in quality and equality. Similarly, health care gets a good average internationally seen –maternity and child health care have improved well. Gender equality has also progressed.

There is little corruption and the government is functioning very well. We do have some difficulties in finding the right operational models with the European Union, which we joined about a decade ago. The EU feels a bit like a family, but Finland is still our immediate family. There are all kinds of relatives in an extended family.

International cooperation has tightened in about every field, because everything is moving at lightning speed by new technology from country to country across the world. Not only information but also of people, goods and jobs. What is happening here and now, is quick as lightning in the offing far away from us. Tough wars still rage in the Middle East, thousands of refugees flee to Europe and thus also to us. Damage inflicted on the civilian population has not been avoided but the sufferings of women and children have been part of the battle strategy.

The United Nations has not been able to stop these acts of violence. The great powers fund differing parties and have at least so far been unable to agree on a sustainable truce. If you lived today, I could imagine that you would be involved in calling for peace and helping the victims. It is strange that these powers have however been able to co-operate at the UN in favour of sustainable development. Last year we managed to achieve the Agenda 2030 as well as the Paris Convention on Climate Change. Implementation will of course still require a lot of time and effort, and money as well to some extent. However, I am hopeful.

The millennium development goals were a little sneered at first, but over the past fifteen years, the infant mortality rate has almost halved, the world’s children go to school, and people have finally become aware of the importance of decent work for human welfare.

Many of the things which you were driving in Finland, are now around the world significant. Colombian maids are getting organized. China considers pension plans, due to the aging of the population. In Brazil, single mothers are getting organized and child mothers aim to get back to school. We are all similar people.

I know that you have done a lot more than your share. I thank You for that!

Let’s hope that we will stay as courageous and headstrong as You were.

Tarja Halonen