Rarely have we felt how urgently global affairs are equally also very local, as now, during these months under the covid-19 crisis. As a politician in the national parliament, with a particular interest in international affairs and human rights issues, I have always been quite aware of how we after all share so many of the same challenges and that even when not, we are not detached from events happening in other parts of the world.
Finland being remote, but we are not isolated from the effects of the crisis, conflict, or violence in other countries.
At this very same age, some perspectives in national politics, particularly in the populistic extremes, seem to become very introverted and egoistically detached from the world. These trends, including the populistic vocabulary and rhetoric, are yet again in contradiction, shared by similar movements internationally. Fearmongering for purposes of power, creating divides among people, climate denial and anti-gender policies seem to be the populistic tools in a similar way in various countries – creating a real threat to sustainable development, human rights, and democracy. If such leaders can be successful in democracies, is tested right now in the US elections.
We can see how severe the effects of covid-19 are in our societies and it might be difficult to imagine the dramatic long-term backlash in development and rights, that will cause humanitarian crises of any sort. In my mind, it is only reasonable to emphasize, that we will need more common global efforts, more international cooperation and solidarity, more UN, stronger EU, and a seamless Nordic values influence, in all of this, to get us on a positive path again and to avoid escalating conflicts and humanitarian catastrophes.
During these Zoom-meeting and Teams-webinar times – some amazing encounters between parliamentarians and activists around the world have taken place. Encounters that otherwise would not, most likely, have ever taken place. To sit in common dialogue with human rights and women rights activists from Congo, Lebanon, and Ukraine, is quite an experience, I can tell you. To organize discussions with Finnish and global women’s organizations, advocates for women´s rights, talking to New York and Brussels on the same screen, has shown how we share so many experiences as well as agendas for our futures. We have always lots to discuss and learn from each other, from practical tools for gaining more equal influence in politics or on practical solutions for legislation or structures, that drive gender equality, and inclusion for minorities. Crossover political cooperation is a feature of the Finnish experience and it always raises lots of interest in how political compromise works as a base for common decisions towards positive development in society.
At these international meetings, I keep being taken back, by how much of our personal work and the lives we live, have in common. There is always a wonderful feeling of recognition - despite the very different political and socioeconomic environments we come from. Human nature and human life are not that different; we love and have a strong need to be loved and respected – we are all the same. And when we feel that our freedoms and rights are unfairly restricted, we fight against it. This is the most important driver to change. In democracies, politics is the tool for change.
When parliamentarians meet internationally, we nourish our passion for change. Where someone else has succeeded must be possible also for me. I can really feel so empowered after these encounters, having shared common aspirations, and having given each other strength and support to continue that work. The feeling to be one of many, that so many works in the same direction give me a strong sense of hope for the future. So, to finish, there has indeed also been good things going on during these exceptional and difficult times of restriction and isolation, thanks to our access to technology in the service of humanity. We are here together, and we can be stronger together.
Eva Biaudet is a Finnish politician and Member of Parliament of Finland in the parliamentary group of the Swedish People's Party. She returned to the Finnish Parliament in the parliamentary election of April 2015. Eva Biaudet was a Member of Parliament of Finland (1991–2006) and is a former Minister of Social Services (1999–2000 and 2002–2003). After the election of 2003, Biaudet did not want to continue as a cabinet minister.
This article was written for MP Talk, a regular column from the Helsinki Times in which Members of The Finnish Parliament contribute their thoughts and opinions. All opinions voiced are entirely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the Helsinki Times.
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