State visit to Finland: business luncheon in Helsinki
Mr President and Ms Haukio
Dear Finnish and Norwegian guests!
The King and I are very happy to be back in Finland. This state visit brings back fond memories from previous visits. Thank you so much for the warm welcome we have once again received!
When Norwegian and Finnish business people meet, the discussions are lively, inspired and interesting. To me it seems that the discussions are characterized by an open attitude, a respectful and listening atmosphere. Please feel free to continue the fruitful conversations over this luncheon here at Wanha Satama!
Norway and Finland share certain values, a particular mindset and a welfare system that make us feel at home when we visit each other. The Nordic model aims to ensure social and financial security for every citizen. The Nordic countries still get top ranking in international surveys on education, welfare and gender equality. Many countries look to our Nordic countries when they strive to improve their gender equality!
Progress and development happen when some people climb the barricades and create new role models.
Here in Finland, you elected Ms Tarja Halonen for President in year 2000. In Norway, Ms Gro Harlem Brundtland became prime minister in 1981. That fact had an impact on both men and women's attitude to gender equality. Children who grew up in Norway in the 1980s would ask their parents if it was also possible for a man to become a prime minister!
And yet. As an introduction to this luncheon, I would like to remind us all that we still have a way to go. It fits perfectly that we are seated under a glass ceiling when I mention this aspect close to my heart:
In Norway, we have had a public discussion over the last few years, on whether there - at the end of the day - is a glass ceiling which prevents more women from taking leading positions in business.
In Norway, women still represent only 16 percent of top management of the listed companies. In Finland, the numbers are actually quite a lot better: 28 percent.
But still, I believe both our countries can do better!
As this state visit proves, Norway and Finland work closely together in many fields. And as we all know by now: We have a potential for a lot more!
«Look to Finland!» has been a saying not only in Norway, but in many countries, regarding your education system.
But there are more reasons to look to Finland: Finland is an advanced technology nation. As we have learned through the workshops today, we have a common interest in game development and edtech (education technology). I am happy to note that we both can learn from and stimulate each other in this field!
Technology, Defense and Health are the three main focus areas for this visit. These are sectors where we hope to further develop our cooperation and strengthen our bilateral relations.
In addition to all these issues on our bilateral agenda - why not add a fourth focus area that we could all bear in mind: Why not support each other to secure that we are not stuck in old mindsets concerning gender equality? Aren't these aspects also relevant for productivity and competitiveness?
These are questions I hope we can continue to discuss. But we cannot do so on an empty stomach! So first and foremost:
Welcome to luncheon here at Wanha Satama!
I hope you will equally enjoy the food – and each other's company!
Thank you for your attention.