Friday, March 20, 2015
Yesterday, on the 19th March, we celebrated Minna Canth's Day and the Day of Social Equality in Finland.
Minna Canth (born in 1884 - died in 1897) was a Finnish writer, a social activist, a journalist, an entrepreneur, a mother... and a tough cookie.
She addressed social issues in her works, and raised different problems into discussion. In her time, for instance, there was no law of the separation of property, which meant that a woman could not govern her own property. If she got married, her money would become his. Minna Canth wrote a play about this, and in Työmiehen vaimo the leading character Johanna's money is wasted by her drunken husband, and there is nothing she can do about it. The play caused a lot of stir when it premiered, but also quite soon afterwards the Finnish Parliament passed a new law concerning the separation of property.
Minna Canth was also a strong advocate for girls' right to education. In the 1800s it was quite common in Finland that even though girls were allowed to have some education, it often was of a 'lighter' sort than the education boys were given. Girls' curriculum quite often included a lot of handicraft, needlework etc., because it was thought that girls did not have the necessary abilities for more difficult subjects and higher education. Minna refused this idea, and was not afraid to speak her mind. Hence, she became a controversial figure in her own time, partly because her ideas differed from the public opinion, and also because she was not afraid to voice her concerns. It is also noteworthy that Minna Canth worked as an entrepreneur and raised seven children by herself after her husband's death in 1879.
I am proud to be named after Minna Canth. I think that this world still needs strong advocates to improve women's position. A lot has been done, and in many parts of the world it is good to be a woman, but still a lot needs to be done. We definitely need all the minnacanths we can get in order to make this world a better place in the future!