In a boost towards gender equality, Finland drops ‘women’ from football league name

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Finland is one of the most progressive nations when it comes to gender equality. Almost a century back, women in Finland became the first in the world to have unrestricted rights to vote and to stand for the national parliament. Further, all employers in Finland that have more than 30 employees are required to furnish a gender equality plan.

That one of the youngest serving heads of state is the woman Prime Minister of Finland – Sanna Marin, 34 – is a testament to the fact that Finland is a pioneer in gender equality.

Now, this Nordic nation has reinforced this fact by bringing about a change in the name of its women’s football league. The Football Association of Finland has decided to rename its top women’s division, removing the word ‘women’ from it.

From the start of the upcoming season, the Women’s League will be rechristened National League (Kansallinen Liiga).

Earlier in 2019, the Football Association of Finland also became one of the few bodies in the world to have equal pay for both, its men’s and women’s national teams.

“Last summer’s Women’s World Cup proved that people do not base their interest in football on the gender of the players,” said Ari Lahti, president of the Finnish FA. “People come to the games to see top athletes play quality football. That is why women’s football should be treated equally with men’s football.”

He added, “Reaching full equality in sports still demands a lot of hard work. Our sincere wish is that other leagues both in Finland and globally will follow our lead. We aspire to be a pioneer of equality in the eyes of the whole sports community.”

“It is common within the sports community to talk about sports and women’s sports as if the latter would be less worthy when this of course is not the case,” said Heidi Pihlaja, head of women’s football development for the Football Association of Finland.

“Football is football — no matter who kicks the ball. Some might see changing the name as insignificant but actually it is a strong statement that symbolizes a bigger cultural change within the sports community and our society.”

Aren’t these views very inspiring? What do you think? Do let us know your opinions in the comments section below.

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