Promoting equality is one of the most important goals and duties of the Student Union.
This year, Helsinki Pride Week is held 7–13 September. Due to the coronavirus situation, a traditional parade cannot be organised, but everyone can still participate in the Pride Week in their own way. The theme for 2020 is ‘Icons’.
The Student Union’s around 27,000 members include all kinds of people. One of HYY’s values and central duties is to work for a safer and more equal environment for all its members. Everyone has the right to be themselves and to express themselves without the fear of discrimination in student activities.
The student movement has traditionally been seen as a progressive community where equality is valued. However, equality work requires constant active reflection and long-term work from all of us. The Pride Week is a good time to stop and reflect on the status of equality in your own community. Can everyone feel accepted in my company? What can I personally do to promote equality?
Many traditions in student activities – even cherished ones – may be discriminatory and should not be continued just because of custom or tradition. Gendered practices and titles may seem like harmless traditions, but in reality, they reinforce a dichotomous view of gender and do not take gender diversity into account. Sitsi songs that discriminate against different groups of people cannot be justified by traditions or humour – discriminatory practices like these should be stopped.
Student organisations can promote equality in their activities by creating principles of safer space, for instance. These principles act as a guideline aimed at creating an open and accepting atmosphere for everyone involved in the organisation. You can use HYY’s equality instructions as a model when creating your own principles of safer space. When you take the needs of every individual into account and respect their identity, the entire student community functions better.
There is also a lot of work to do to advance the equality of gender and sexual minorities in society. For instance, current Finnish legislation grossly violates the human rights of transgender people by requiring individuals undergoing a gender reassignment process to be sterilised. Marin’s government programme includes an entry on the total reform of the Trans Act, and its preparation must not slow down because of the coronavirus pandemic.
This week, we encourage all members of the Student Union to take part in the Pride Week. The Helsinki Pride website features loads of tips on remote participation, too. Be a role model and show others that there is no room for discrimination in student communities!