At Finland Center Foundation we strongly believe that no nation can fully celebrate its heritage unless its citizens are able to enjoy peace, human rights, relative prosperity, and most importantly, equality between men and women. Finland has stood out for decades as one of the best places in the world to be a woman. Finland not only safeguards these rights among its citizens, but has become known for promoting these values through its peacekeeping and aid work in different parts of the world.
Finland Center’s vision is to continue to promote these values with the help of Finnish culture in New York City. Without women’s rights, the other values are not achievable either, and they are essential for rich cultural expression. FCF believes that working on the global arena for these values is one of Finland’s most important contributions to world culture, and our values should also be promoted in a visible manner in New York City, where the world’s cultures intersect. This is done in a concrete fashion by supporting organizations that work actively in these fields. In the past two years, FCF worked intensively on the Kota Project, which aims to create a World Center for Women in New York City. It will serve as a hub for civil society organizations working for gender equality and women’s empowerment. FCF has catalyzed its emergence as a separate , registered not-for-profit organization in New York, The Kota Alliance. We are proud of this achievement, will continue as a partner organization, and encourage everyone to support it.
The people of Finland inhabit a remote corner of Northern Europe. After centuries of subjugation by neighboring powers – Finland was part of Sweden until the 1800s and subsequently part of Russia – the country declared independence in 1917. A civil war in 1918 between socialist “Reds” and government-supported “Whites” resulted in deep scars in the national psyche. A generation later, however, Finns came together to preserve our independence during World War II and prevailed. Another two generations later, Finland is at the top of international lists for life span, gender and economic equality, health care, education, transparency, design and technology, and quality of life.
Since World War II, Finland has become more integrated with the rest of Europe and the world; we joined the EU in 1995 and the Euro in 1999. In a more culturally unified world, cherishing and promoting fundamental aspects of our respective cultural identities becomes increasingly important.
With the establishment of the Kota Alliance, FCF will maintain its connection with the new organization and continue to do what we do best: bring our volunteers, interns from Finland, musicians and artists, etc. who want to support the cause to share their talents in New York City. We like arranging events and fundraisers, and when The Kota Center (working title) will emerge as a physical space, we want to manage the sauna! Finland Center will also bring to the table our ground-laying work as well as our connections to nongovernmental organizations, representatives of Finnish architecture and design, individuals, corporations and foundations. All of the above can help make the center financially self-sufficient. We welcome the involvement of all individuals and entities with similar goals and values wishing to join us in this endeavor.
Listen to an interview with the President of Finland Center Foundation, Jaana Rehnstrom, about our project for a global center for women’s empowerment.