Recently in Finland, we had a general election, this made me think about my country. Who we are, why we are what we are, and what will become of us? If I had to name one and only one thing that describes it, I would say it is equality.
Here in Finland, the concept of equality is a value that we strongly cherish. Throughout history, Finland has been a country where at the end of the day the differences between people have been small. We have a history of being a poor country, often beaten by others. Here the wealth and income differences amongst people have been small. Some lucky ones may have had two horses, while everyone else has had one. That has been pretty much it as far as wealth differences go.
We know things are changing. So, how do we ensure that people are equal not only today but also tomorrow and in the days to come?
I think there are few things that lay solid foundations for the equality of people. I am ready to claim that without them; inequality will raise its ugly head and bring back the hardships we have seen in the past and that we want to avoid in the future.
Equality, Democracy, Education and Access
Democracy and the equal right to vote are no brainers. I do not even need to mention them.
After democracy, the first one is treating people the same way regardless of their sex, colour of skin, age, shape or any other quality. We are all human beings and are to be treated as such.
Then there is the idea of education. We Finns value access to education. The more you know, the less you can be fooled. The more you know, the better you understand the world around you. And the better you understand the world around you, the better you can contribute to the welfare of others.
Third, no one is to be left behind. An equal society takes care of its every member. Access to health care and social security is guaranteed. Those who have resources are happy to support those with lesser strength. An equal society has a safety net to catch those who fall.
Fourth, everyone has equal access to information, knowledge and public services. A civil servant in an equal society is happy to walk the extra mile in order to ensure that everyone is considered. I know this for a fact as I have witnessed it to happen many times. I have faith in our civil servants.
There are many things that matter. Yet, I want to raise one more thing. It is the belief that at the end of the day, after all, is said and done, we all believe that the neighbour comes with good intentions. I call it trust.
So, why do I write about equality and what do I mean by the above? I have been with my current employer since 2012. During these years I have worked on many projects with the public sector that include these topics and they have contributed to greater equality. My previous projects have covered voting, education, social security, ensuring comprehensive access to public services for all, plus, many more. And all this in an environment where everyone assumes good intentions and treats each other in an equal manner.
You can call me naïve or idealistic I do not care. Instead, I care about the fact that we all are equal in an equal world. And that is what we need to work for. I feel privileged to work for a company that creates a positive impact and to have contributed towards the open and equal society that we enjoy in Finland today. As Gofore expands internationally my hope is that we can share some of our experiences to help other societies in their quest for greater equality.
Positive impact examples
Here are a few examples of Gofore projects in Finland which have a significant impact on people’s lives:
- suomi.fi service family that allows equal access to public services and transparency to data government holds on individuals.
- ePerusteet service, which provides a basis for efficient and transparent education planning
- Pre-study for Internet voting: how feasible is Internet voting for the Finnish democracy?
- Työmarkkinatori, which provides efficient access to employment opportunities for unemployed people
- and many more…