When Finland’s Ambassador to Australia first entered diplomacy, she was surrounded by mostly men.
The Nordic country has managed to close that gap among its diplomats, achieving an almost equal split between men and women being appointed to the prestigious position.
It is an area Finland is encouraging young Australian women to break into.
Of her own “very natural” career progression, Satu Mattila-Budich said Finland’s deep culture of gender equality meant she never faced any obstacles, but this wasn’t always the case.
“Non-discrimination and gender equality have always been central parts of our human rights policy and the core of our foreign policy,” she told AAP.
The Embassy of Finland was the first diplomatic mission in Canberra six years ago to take part in a program that immersed a participant for a day.
Those women were given the chance to engage with embassy staff, help out with work, and build networks.
Ms Mattila-Budich said the Girls Run The World program, which has grown from just two participants to more than 180, was a “great starting point”.
“We are very proud and very, very happy to be part of this program,” she said.
“Hopefully we can encourage them to also apply for the foreign service and many other opportunities.”
More than 30 diplomatic missions across the nation’s capital including the United States, France, Britain and New Zealand have become host embassies.
The ambassador said building networks was a “core” part of a diplomat’s job, with the program helping connect young women to potential employers and future contacts.
“I’m telling our young diplomats and our interns to go out there, meet people and build networks, as when you need some help or advice – whether that be from other embassies, universities or companies – it’s so much easier to collaborate,” Ms Mattila-Budich said.
In recognition of its role in supporting the initiative, the Finnish embassy was chosen to host the launch of this year’s program this week.
Girls Run the World co-chair Riya Menon said the program helped women overcome imposter syndrome.
“Recognising that I too can belong here and that there are women I can look up to in this field,” she said.
“There’s so much that I’ve gained from Girls Run The World but I think mostly it would be confidence and just believing that I belong in these spaces.”
The program will run from October 24 to 28.
Source : Singleton Argus