Women’s councils brought a fresh perspective to Kainuu’s vitality policy: open recruitment, new types of jobs and attractive teleworking solutions will help the region which is currently suffering from a loss of women

The Regional Council of Kainuu and the City of Kajaani were the first in Finland to launch a pilot project to strengthen the perspective of women in vitality policy. At the same time, information was produced on issues that affect the retention of young women in the province or facilitate their migration to the province. The results of the project which began in autumn 2020, have now been published.

In Kainuu, the imbalance between the number of young women and the number of young men is one of the largest in the country. The imbalance is exacerbated by the fact that young women move more often than young men to larger cities in search of education and work. In the future, the key here is to provide women with jobs and education, career opportunities and a living environment and community where living in accordance with their values is possible. In addition to understanding why women are leaving Kainuu, a model is also required showing how young women can find opportunities for fulfilling and successful lives in Kainuu.

“Vitality policy has simply been gender-blind,” says Kirsi Siltanen, a regional development equality expert. “In Kainuu, we were brave enough to take up an issue that everyone experiences on a daily basis, but bringing it up alongside business development and routine investments requires a strong will to change the established way of thinking.” 

Mainstreaming the female perspective is not however a quick fix, results will only be achieved through a long and committed work process. Kaisa-Leena Lintilä, a long-standing player in regional development who participated in the discussion, suggested that, as a practical step, assessing the gender impact of the Kainuu regional strategy and setting numerical indicators related to the theme would be a great way to show commitment in practice.

Local women eagerly participated in the process

14 women from Kainuu and 12 women who moved out of Kainuu participated in the project’s women’s councils. In addition, a background analysis and a survey were conducted which were answered by 521 people. As a result of the experiment, together with the jury a 10-point room board that brings a female perspective to Kainuu decision-makers was created.

“We received a lot of media attention for the project as well as inquiries and contacts. We inspired young women from Kainuu in our target group – they deserve thanks for being active and throwing themselves into the process with gusto. The team worked in the councils, made a list of actions for the decision-makers and developed the Kainuu home region,” says specialist Aleksi Koivisto.

Minna Komulainen, a regional development expert who piloted this project in the Regional Council of Kainuu, also sees the project as a significant new opening for them: “A female perspective is needed in vitality policy, as the world of companies and markets is constantly changing. Traditional vitality policies are not working. New models are desperately needed. The experiment, led by MDI and the city of Kajaani, led to surprisingly positive results with its inclusion element bolstered by the marked enthusiasm of the participants. In itself, this showed how great the need is to bring out the women’s perspective and women’s voice.”

The work is by no means however limited only to this low-level participation aspect: “The results are to be utilised in the strategic planning and communication of the Kainuu regional programme,” confirms Komulainen, concluding: “Taking the women’s perspective into account creates more sustainable building blocks for the future!”

Huoneentaulu Naisnäkökulmaa Kainuuseen

More information

Kaisa Lähteenmäki-Smith, MDI
p. 050 513 4810

Aleksi Koivisto, MDI
p. 040 686 2604

Minna Komulainen, Regional Council of Kainuu
p. 044 410 0726

Risto Hämäläinen, City of Kajaani
p. 044 710 0217