Prime Minister for a day: Teenager fills Finland’s top job

Aava Murto took over the job of Finnish PM Marin for one day in Helsinki, Finland, on October 7, 2020. (Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva/AFP)

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin faced a quieter day than usual on Wednesday after handing power to a 16-year-old as part of a campaign to promote girls’ rights.

Aava Murto, from Vaasky in southern Finland, said she was having an “exciting day” as she faced media on the steps of parliament after meeting with the chancellor of justice.

Murto added that she had “learnt some new things about legislation.”

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In the afternoon, the student who actively campaigns on climate and human rights issues was to speak with MPs and the minister for development and foreign trade.

Her message to decision-makers has been that girls “need to realize more how important they are, and how they are just as good at technology as boys,” she told AFP.

“I think young people could teach adults to be more innovative and think more about the future,” she added.

Aava Murto speaks to the press in Helsinki, Finland, on October 7, 2020. (Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva/AFP)

Aava Murto speaks to the press in Helsinki, Finland, on October 7, 2020. (Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva/AFP)

The swap is part of a global “Girls Takeover” campaign by children’s rights charity Plan International, which aims to raise awareness of girls’ digital skills and opportunities in technological industries and highlight the problem of online harassment against women.

Although Finland scores highly in international gender equality comparisons, women are still heavily under-represented in technology firms and boardrooms, while the country’s share of females starting technology-related studies is the lowest in the OECD.

The global campaign coincides with the UN’s International Day of the Girl Child on Sunday, and will also allow girls take on the jobs of ministers in Kenya, Peru, Sudan and Vietnam.

Elsewhere, senior jobs at Microsoft, Samsung, Facebook and Twitter will go to teenage girls in countries including El Salvador, Guatemala, the Netherlands and the Philippines.

Finnish premier Marin, 34, became the world’s youngest head of government when she took office in December, leading a coalition of five center-left parties who were all led by women.

Finnish PM Marin delivers a speech at the 46th Social Democratic convention in Tampere, Finland, on August 23, 2020. (Roni Rekomaa/Lehtikuva/AFP)

Finnish PM Marin delivers a speech at the 46th Social Democratic convention in Tampere, Finland, on August 23, 2020. (Roni Rekomaa/Lehtikuva/AFP)

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Marin did not have Wednesday completely free however, as she took part in budget negotiations in the morning.

A planned working breakfast with Murto was cancelled at the last minute, but they were due to meet for a debrief in the evening.

Asked if she would be interested in doing the job full-time in a few years, Murto told AFP: “It’s not up to me to decide that, but possibly, yeah!”

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Last Update: Wednesday, 07 October 2020 KSA 17:29 - GMT 14:29
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