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Cablegate: International Woman of Courage in Finland: Ulla

VZCZCXRO8411
RR RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHHE #0099 0460706
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 150706Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY HELSINKI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2967
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS HELSINKI 000099

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR G/IWI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: FI KDEM PHUM
SUBJECT: INTERNATIONAL WOMAN OF COURAGE IN FINLAND: ULLA
ANTILLA

REF: SECSTATE 12871

1. (SBU) Ulla Anttila has been a member of Finland's
Parliament since 1992 and has taken the lead as the
Chairperson of the Finnish Parliament's Human Rights Caucus
on a variety of women's issues at home and abroad. In
particular, her work to combat trafficking-in-persons in the
Nordic-Baltic region has helped transform the Finnish
government's approach to this critical problem. In just a
few short years, the Finnish government has gone from a
position of denial (there's no problem here!) to one of
regional and EU-wide leadership on combatting TIP. Ulla's
efforts to raise public awareness and to publicly campaign
for change have helped create a sea change in public
perceptions and in government policy as reflected in
Finland's shift from Tier 2 to Tier 1 on the State
Department's TIP Report.

2. (SBU) Ulla has also been a vocal activist and advocate
for the rights of the disabled, serving as the Chariman of
Parliament's Group for Disabled People. Inspired by her
oldest daughter, Allie, who has several disabilities, Ulla
has fought to raise the awareness of Finnish society about
the thousands of children and adults living with
disabilities; and has challenged the Finnish government to
develop new standards to accommodate the disabled. One of
her greatest successes was in drafting and sponsoring
legislation that required disabled access in all public
buildings, apartments and public transportaition, including
smaller and rural bus stops. Despite opposition from various
groups (chiefly over cost), Ulla led the effort to pass the
legislation, and then kept pressure on Finland's government
for several years until it finally budgeted funds to make
implementation possible. In her travels, most recently, for
example, to Ethiopia, she tirelessly urges countries not to
forget the rights of some of their most vulnerable citizens.

3. (SBU) In a country that is proud of the fact that it was
the first in the world to grant women suffrage (in 1907) and
has a long tradition of women in government, including the
current President of Finland, one could argue that it would
be easy to fully support the status quo. Ulla's style and
penchant for choosing causes that many people would prefer to
quietly ignore have not always made her the most popular MP
with the government, especially in Finland where consensus
and homogenity are the rule. But she is a politician and
activist with the strength of her convictions who has made a
real difference in the lives of thousands in Finland and
throughout the region.

4. (U) Contact Information:

Ulla Anttila
00102 Parliament Finland
ulla.anttila@eduskunta.fi
Tel: 050-511-3005
Date of birth: December 13, 1963

Point of Contact at Embassy Helsinki: Jane Messenger,
Economic Section Chief, tel: 358-9-6162-5468.
WARE

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