In 2021, Finland published its National Child Strategy, setting out its ambitious objectives and vision in an accessible document. The need for a National Child Strategy has been brought up during the terms of office of several different governments. The National Child Strategy aims to create a child and family friendly Finland where the rights of the child are respected. In addition, the Child Strategy looks to ensure the fulfilment of Finland’s fundamental and human rights obligations concerning children, in particular those that are set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Above all, Finland considers that their strategy is warranted because decisions and policies crucial for the rights of the Finnish child are often fragmented and not always consistent in fulfilling Finland’s fundamental and human rights obligations. Consequently, the realisation of children’s rights depends in practice largely on their backgrounds, families and other similar factors.
The vision of the strategy is set out as being a Finland where the rights of the child are fully and equally realised in all areas of society. In this vision, stakeholders in all sectors of Finnish society recognise the importance of the rights of the child and the value of a child and family friendly society. The Finland of the vision will be built together. To achieve this ambitious and laudable vision, a key objective of the Finnish strategy is to lay a sustainable, consistent and lasting foundation for national child and family policies. The aim of the strategy is to develop decision-making, cooperation and practices related to children and families, ensuring that fundamental and human rights obligations are met comprehensively and systematically in all administrative branches and at every level.
The strategy is based on three key ideas:
- The strategy will create a genuinely child and family-friendly Finland where the rights of the child are respected.
- Children’s rights and status will be mainstreamed, ensuring that children are consistently taken into consideration in all policies and activities alongside other members of society and that all children are informed of their rights.
- The status of vulnerable children will be secured, and their needs will be recognised better.
In achieving these three key ideas, as well as the objectives and aims, the Finnish strategy will; combat discrimination and promote equality, safeguard the rights of vulnerable children, protect children from violence, provide social welfare and healthcare for children as well as provide adequate income for their families and a good work/life balance, affordable and accessible Early Years education and care and, overall, ensure that children’s voices are heard. All of these will be underpinned by a child’s impact assessment and child budgeting ensure that there is a cohesive and unified approach by national and local governments. As we have seen, Finland considers fragmentated approaches and decision-making processes to be anathema to fulfilling obligations in regards to upholding the rights of children.
The strategy is given legal basis through the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is binding on Finland as a human rights treaty. This National Child Strategy is intended to fulfil Finland’s obligations under the Convention. In addition to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the strategy is underpinned by Finland’s other fundamental and human rights obligations and strong rule of law. The four universal principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child provide the backdrop for the strategy: non-discrimination; the child’s best interests as the primary consideration; a child’s right to life, survival and development; and the child’s participation.
Finland’s National Child Strategy is an aspirational, holistic document, which will yield important societal benefits to Finland, it’s children and their families. You can read the Finnish National Child Strategy on the Finnish Government website, which also contains backing information and other resources akin to Ireland’s First 5 Strategy website. If you would like to know more about this report and how it relates to Ireland, or speak to us about Early Childhood Ireland’s policy work, please get in touch with our Policy, Advocacy and Campaigning team at firstname.lastname@example.org.