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Non-discrimination work leans heavily on the Non-discrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination based on age, ethnic background or nationality, language, religion, beliefs, opinions, state of health, disability, sexual or gender orientation or other personal characteristic. The equality plan of the City services states that human rights are the basis for the City’s active equality work. Four central principles guide the City’s equality work:


Intersectionality refers to how several various factors affect the way people live and act, such as their gender, age, ethnic background, disability and sexual orientation. These same factors may sometimes be brought up in situations where the person faces discrimination. Intersectionality is a tool that helps discern how the different forms of discrimination affect a person.

Norm awareness

Norm awareness helps recognise the diversity of people and teaches how to treat others. Norms are assumptions of what people are like and how they should be. Norms reflect the worldview of the majority. This is why minorities are not taken into account well enough in various services, for example, or why minorities are treated differently. A norm-aware approach makes norms visible in different services and helps assess how norms affect people’s experiences of the services.


Participation means that people have the chance to make themselves heard in matters that are important to them. All city residents must have the opportunity to affect how the city services are developed and what decisions are made. They need to be heard, seen and faced as they are. Without participation, we cannot build a Helsinki of Human Rights.


In this context, accessibility refers to social, physical, financial and digital accessibility. Social accessibility refers to attitudes that help create a safe and open atmosphere in services. Physical accessibility means that everyone should have access to the services. It aims to remove any obstacles to mobility and actions in services and to consider the needs related to sensory impairments.

Financial accessibility means that a person’s financial situation should not affect their chances of using the services. Digital accessibility refers to digital services and how everyone should be able to use websites and mobile applications. In everyday use, availability is most often used in connection to digital accessibility. However, the City of Helsinki’s equality work should take into account all the dimensions of accessibility.

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Action plan

The city services’ non-discrimination plan for 2020–2021 is titled Human Rights in Helsinki. The aim of the plan is to continue building the most functional city in the world based on fairness, equality and human rights. Read the plan here (PDF file).