Merikasarmi, PO Box 176, 00023 Government, Finland
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Human development –basic security for all

Finnish development policy aims at human development that will increase equal opportunities for everyone to have access to basic services and basic income security. This should ensure that everyone has a safe and secure life from the time they are in their mother’s womb until they are pensioners. The development policy action plan lists Finland’s special priorities as: education, decent work, reducing youth unemployment, and improving the status of women and children.

Finland’s development policy thus has as a goal the promotion of economic, social, and cultural human rights, as well as political civil rights.

Knowing that they will have a safe and secure childhood, quality education, good health, safe working conditions, and reliable social security providing for health care and old age will improve the possibilities for people to take control of their own lives. At the same time, this basic security also allows people to work for the good of the whole society.

The global population, now over seven billion, is larger than it has ever been and continues to grow. The great majority are children and young people who live in developing countries. We believe that the future of these young people should be safeguarded. Improving employment opportunities and social security will also decrease the necessity for them to leave the places where they were born.

Education and decreasing youth unemployment

Kuva: Satu Ryynänen.Addis Abeba secondary school Menelik II has teaching materials also for blind students. Photo: Satu Ryynänen.

Literacy and a good general education are the keys for making decisions and participating fully in the community. Good quality basic education and occupational training that matches the needs of the labour market will help young people find employment, strengthen business and industry, and aid in developing the economy. University training should be accessible to young people who want to further their education.

In many developing countries, universal entrance to elementary school has already been reached. However, children, especially girls, often have to leave school before graduation.

Another problem is that disabled children and those from ethnic and linguistic minorities, along with children in conflict zones, only have access to insufficient education with a curriculum that is below minimum standard. Finland supports the attendance of disabled children in ordinary schools, and together with NGOs has created good models for making it possible for people with disabilities to fully participate in society.

Decent work

Decent work is work which provides a wage or income sufficient to cover the costs of living. Decent work is work that is meaningful, and safe for the worker. Decent work is also gender equal, and guarantees the right to organise and bargain, in addition to other basic labour rights.

Human development includes the obligation of the society to provide a minimal level of protection against impoverishment, when a worker is disabled or ill, or too young or too old, to be able to escape poverty through their own efforts.

Improving the status of women and children

Decreasing sex-linked violence, and attitudes and habits that are harmful to women and children, requires cooperation among and across sectors.

One of the UN’s global development goals is decreasing maternal mortality. Development is proceeding slowly toward that goal; this means that special attention needs to be paid to promoting the health of women and girls. Health care for mothers and children, as well as HIV and AIDS services need to be made a part of basic health care.

Verenpainetta tarkistetaan Shanti Nepalin terveysasemalla Lalitpurissa. Kuva: Marja-Leena Kultanen.Checking the blood pressure at a Nepalese health care center. Photo: Marja-Leena Kultanen.

Various harmful attitudes, habits, and practices such as female circumcision and child marriage weaken the human rights of girls and women and have harmful effects on their health. Changing these practices and attitudes is often very slow and requires long term cooperation.

Strengthening the rights of other vulnerable groups, and groups that are often discriminated against, such as the disabled, and indigenous peoples, also helps reduce inequality. Achieving this goal often requires taking specific measures to change entrenched attitudes and practices, so that discrimination against these easily marginalised groups can be decreased. The aim is to ensure that they enjoy the same rights and services as all other people.

Guaranteeing basic health services for everyone

Health services should be equally available to all, even the poorest people and the most easily marginalised people. Support should be given to preventive health care, and to ensuring that people have possibilities to have an effect on their own health and well-being.

Developing countries also need support in their struggles against a double burden of disease: in addition to the endemic contagious diseases, people suffer more and more from non-contagious diseases arising from changes in their life style, such as diabetes, and cardiovascular problems.

Finland’s Development Cooperation

  • promotes human development by supporting actions which will guarantee good health services and social security, and universal education
  • supports education for children and youth, especially for girls; supports social protection and health care for everyone from early childhood through working life and old age
  • promotes employment, especially for youth
  • promotes children’s rights by fighting against child labour and empowering children’s access to health care and social services, as well as education
  • encourages the inclusion of health care and social services in all of the decision making in developing countries
  • supports the inclusion of health care and social security as well as education in the development of national and local organisations
  • supports sexual and reproductive health care, and related rights, as well as maternal health care
  • supports work on the prevention of HIV/AIDS, and the care of people living with HIV/AIDS


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