Vaili Maria Jämsä
Vaili Maria Jämsä was selected for the 2011 Women Inspiring Europe Calendar.
The time when Vaili Maria Jämsä entered into the fight for women’s rights might be a while ago. But still, the 1930-born feels that too little has been accomplished so far. Moreover, she feels disappointed from today’s generation of younger women feeling they are too unwaring of what they are being deprived of.
Ms Jämsä has been one of the key figures in the improvement of women’s lives in her home country Finland. As the founding member of a number of organisations as well as one of the country’ parties, she not only stood for the women’s right to vote but also became a rolemodel for the active participation of women in politics and society.
She also played an integral role in the development of modern farming and food production and worked in the field for many years serving in several local and national institutions. At the same time she stayed a driving force in lobbying for equality between the sexes.
During the years, her focus has changed. Since the rights to vote, work, study and inherit have been established, she now concentrates on changing the mindset and attitude of people, especially within families. “Even today, ten years after the Millenium, most of the work at home is done by women. Impossible!”
Being widowed she also started raising the awarness for the situation of elder women, especially those living on their own pointing out that their poverty risk is much higher than that of men the same age. “We should all still be able to participate and contribute. But today, we are invisible on society.” She therefore founded yet another organisation to support widows and lobby for their universal participation. “We can still give, you know. And sometimes we must do it, financially or psychologically.”
With her enthusiams, vigour and energy she is an inspiration to many women in Finland. But mostly, her own family is constantly in ore of what she coninues to achieve. Her daughter finally nominated her as one of the “Women Inspiring Women”.
At 81, Vaili Maria Jämsä still has many changes to put forward. “It isn’t until Christmas isn’t about women working and men celebrating and being celebrated, that we all live equally.” Coming from Lappland, the land of Santa Claus, she must know.