Inspiring Thursday: Sanna Marin

“We do have a problem with women, but we also have a problem with men. It’s very important that we realise it’s not a women’s issue, it’s a people issue.”

Sanna Marin was born in 1985 in Helsinki, Finland. Her parents divorced when she was very young. After the separation, she was raised by her mother and her female partner. Growing up in a “rainbow family” positively influenced her in her efforts for social and gender equality.

Marin studied Administrative Science at the University of Tampere. During her studies, she worked in a bakery and as a cashier. In 2006, she joined Social Democratic Youth and was their first Vice-president from 2010 to 2012.

In 2008, she ran for a seat on the Tampere City Council. Although she failed, she ran again in 2012 and was elected. The following year, she was made the council’s chair. In 2015, she successfully ran in parliamentary elections. She was chosen as the first deputy leader of the Social Democrats and also reelected to the city council of Tampere.

In the 2019 parliamentary elections, she retained her seat. The leader of the Social Democrats Antti Rinne became prime minister and named Marin minister of transport and communications. However, Rinne’s controversy about a pay dispute involving the postal service threatened the dissolution of the coalition, he stepped down and Sanna Marin replaced him as prime minister on December 10, 2019. At that time, Marin was the youngest female head of government in the world and Finland’s youngest-ever prime minister.

Sanna Marin became a voice for women, women’s participation, gender equality, and social justice. For example, a majority of the ministers in her five-party cabinet are women. Although Finland is a very progressive country when it comes to gender equality, there is still a lot of work to do. Marin promised to close the pay gap and tries to persuade men to take their share of parental leave. Moreover, she expressed the idea of moving the country to a four-day workweek to allow parents more time with their families. Moreover, Marin has tried to model these ideas in her own life and lead by example. For example, she and her partner each took six months’ parental leave to care for their daughter.

In October 2020, Marin took part in a photoshoot for the magazine in which she wore a blazer with nothing underneath. It aroused public controversy in Finland and all over the world. Critics accused her of inappropriateness for her office, while others accused the critics of sexism. A lot of celebrities and other politicians mimicked her image in order to fight sexism.

Sanna Marin became one of the most famous and inspirational politicians. She was on the list of the BBC’s 100 Women. She was also rank 85th on Forbes’s list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. In addition, she became a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum. 

Sanna Marin’s story is not a story about how young women became the prime minister. It is the story about how intelligence, hard work, and dedication can become the main driving force behind success regardless of sex or age.

Written by WAVE Intern Mária Trubanová