Monika-naiset palkittiin Tyttöjen oikeus kouluun -seminaarin päätteeksi

Ranskan suurlähettiläs Serge Mostura luovutti Ranskan instituutin järjestämän palkinnon Monika-naisille kansainvälisenä tyttöjen päivänä. Monika-naiset liiton toiminnanjohtaja Jenni Tuominen piti kiitospuheen.

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Speech at ‘The right of girls to an education’ seminar on 11 October 2016 Serge Mostura, Ambassador of France in Finland

Your excellency,
Ladies and gentlemen

Every year on Oct. 11 the international day of the girl child presents an opportunity to reaffirm our collective commitment to ending discrimination and violence against girls.
In a number of countries, girls are still deprived of education. Girls are also particularly subjected to child labor: according to UNICEF over 90 per cent of the children engaged in domestic service are girls. And a number of girls are victims of such practices as child marriage or human trafficking. Two years ago, in Nigeria, Boko Haram kidnapped 219 schoolgirls and put them into slavery.

Last year, in Europe, and for the first time since World War II, we experienced a massive arrival of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers. About one million people came to Europe, the vast majority of them originating from Syria and Irak fleeing a war and ethnic and religious violence.

This was a dangerous journey for all of them. And among them women were a minority particularly at risk: single women travelling alone or with children, adolescent women, girl children. They suffered from insecurity and some of them have been subjected to abuse or to violence.

Today’s seminar is an occasion to discuss such issues. The position of France is clear. France believes that the protection of children and especially girls is a priority for a human rights diplomacy. I will not recall our many efforts in general or with regards to the Syrian crisis but I want to mention that together with UNICEF, we are organizing a Conference on Children in armed conflicts in Paris in February 2017. Indeed over the recent years, and it is a matter of growing concern, girls are being used by Islamist terrorists. Last year, Boko Haram again used two young girls for a suicide attack in Keno that left 15 dead and 50 wounded.

We believe nevertheless that this international day of the girl child is an opportunity to go further than speeches and do something concrete.

Those many women who came to Finland over the last year expected to find here a safe harbor and start a new life. They found several helpful hands, one of them being MONIKA. MONIKA supports migrant women and their children who have been subjected to violence and promote their integration.

In 2015, MONIKA’s information center received 471 people. Its emergency center gave shelter to 111 women and 109 children and was able to find a home for 21 women and 20 children.

We believe that something special should be done in recognition of those actions. We found an artist, Riitta Nelimarkka, who accepted to create an award for this occasion. We found a French company, Dassault Systemes, who accepted to pledge a financial support to MONIKA. And as we also believe that taking care of your appearance helps to restore one’s dignity we found a great fashion designer, Samuji, that will offer clothes for MONIKA to distribute. Thank you to all of them.

It is my pleasure to hand over this award to MONIKA.

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Speech at ‘The right of girls to an education’ seminar on 11 October 2016 Jenni Tuominen, Managing Director, Monika – Multicultural Women’s Association, Finland

Honourable President of the Republic
Esteemed Ambassadors, The Dean of Helsinki University and participants

On behalf of Monika I would like to give my warmest thanks for this major recognition. It is a great pleasure and honour for us and the entire sector working in this field.
Many thanks to the French Institute and its passionate Director, Jeanette Bougrab – we know that you are truly dedicated to promoting the cause of women and girls, The French Embassy and the Ambassador Serge Mostura, the City of Helsinki, the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the company Dassault Systemes and the fashion brand Samuji for your donations. And, thank you, artist Riitta Nelimarkka – this piece of art is a unique reminder of this day: it represent our global appeal for the rights of women and girls. My sincere gratitude to all of you.

On a special note, I would like to thank you President Sauli Niinistö for the attention that you have devoted to this theme. Today, and in many other occasions, you have highlighted the importance of promoting the equality of girls and women. As you have said, education is more than a universal human right – it is a recipe for success. Education enables empowerment and the breaking of glass ceilings, the fulfilling of dreams.

Despite knowing this recipe, Finland is no model country in this respect. As You have pointed out, much remains to be done. According to the latest EU research, 47 % of women have experienced violence in some form after the age of 15 in Finland. Moreover - the women’s euro remains lower in value than the men’s –it is around 83 cents. For a migrant woman, it is only 62 cents. It is highly unfortunate, that such inequality is deeply embedded in our social structures.

Our mission in Monika is to promote the equality and inclusion of migrant women and girls in Finland. Each year, our Shelter Mona and Resource Center Monika provide help and support for around 800 women and children who have been subjected to violence. They have experienced intimate partner violence, honour-related violence or have fallen victims of forced marriages and human trafficking. Another 800 women are involved in our services of integration and employment annually.

Every one of them is seeking a safe life and the opportunity to fulfil themselves. To be a useful and important part of society, to be visible and treated as a human being.
Unfortunately, this dream of an ordinary life is a distant prospect for many. There face different kind of discrimination - such as having no possibility of attending school, or being denied decision-making power in general. Many of the women involved in our activities also face hostility and racism on the street and public places and when applying for jobs. Many of them have escaped war and are seeking safety in Finland. They are very often mothers, even though they are actually children themselves. Many bear the deep trauma of war in their bodies and minds. As we here today in our fancy dresses are giving speeches on women´s rights, we cannot forget that little girl in Aleppo who is sending tweets - maybe also right now - to the whole world asking for help and peace. Dear participants, we need to join our common forces to bring peace to this little girl and all the children who are crying out for help in war zones.
Because you know, if only they are given a chance, these girls and women will not give up, or remain in the roles of victims, but they will move mountains to make a change. In Monika, one of our concrete goals is the criminalisation of forced marriages also in Finland, in order to fulfil the fundamental right of every girl and woman to decide on their own lives.

In Monika, the demand for our services is bigger than we can provide - unfortunately. But we love our work: we see the concrete results of our efforts every day. In our everyday work we are lucky to meet with these girls and women, whose world has being changed. As the Nobel prize-winner, brave-hearted Malala has said: One child, one teacher, one school book and one pen can change the world.

At this point, I would like to thank my wonderful colleagues, all of the employees, volunteers, member associations and the board of Monika. As my colleague Samreen once said: Monika is more than a work place; it is like a network of women from all over the world who support each other and build a better world. I am proud of you. This award is yours.

Your excellencies.

I thank you for the recognition. It encourages us to continue our work for a better tomorrow.

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Julkaistu 03/11/2016

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