Wind from the North, Don't Go Forth? Gender Equality and the Rise of Populist Nationalism in Finland
European Journal of Women's Studies (2017)
Posted: 31 Jan 2018
Date Written: 2017
The article considers the future prospects of the struggle for gender equality in light of the growing appeal and electoral success of parties embracing populist nationalism and anti-immigration as their platform. Considering many such parties are known for viewing the promotion of gender equality as unnecessary or even harmful – except when they highlight immigration as a threat to female emancipation – it is important to explore what, if anything, the electoral success of populist-nationalist parties means for the direction of gender equality policies. The article examines this question in the Finnish context. Though the Finnish state’s commitment to gender equality is well-established, questions can be asked about the future prospects of gender equality policies in light of the electoral rise of the populist anti-immigration party Perussuomalaiset (or ‘True Finns’), especially since the party joined government in May 2015. The article scrutinises the recent record of PS in parliament and government, elucidating on the challenges that populist-nationalist parties create for gender equality in (allegedly) ‘women-friendly’ welfare states. The case study particularly focuses on gender equality in the context of balancing work and family and freedom from violence, discrimination and harassment. It raises questions that are of broader relevance to the future of gender equality in Europe, considering the Nordic states have been viewed as models for a gender egalitarian society and frontrunners in the promotion of gender equality within the EU.
Keywords: Gender equality, immigration, populist nationalism, violence against women, work-family reconciliation
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