The work on gender equality is based on the Act on Equality between Women and Men that prohibits discrimination based on gender, gender identity or gender expression. Helsinki follows the diverse definition of gender laid out in the Act on Equality between Women and Men. Specifically, this means that people can have diverse gender identities and gender expression: there are women, men, intersex people, transgender people, non-binary people, everything in between, and people outside these categories. The city’s aim is to establish gender diversity in city services and to better identify the needs of residents of all genders and gender identities in the future.
Helsinki is constantly transitioning towards a more intersectional approach in the promotion of gender equality. Specifically, this means that other characteristics that may affect the resident’s experience and discrimination, for example, are considered in conjunction with gender. These characteristics include but are not limited to age, language, origin, sexuality and background. The promotion of gender equality requires the ability to identify power structures and hierarchies and the courage to dismantle discriminatory structures.
In addition to the Act on Equality between Women and Men, the city’s gender equality work is based on expertise, cooperation, scientific fact, and the values and strategy of the city. Gender equality is a high-priority objective in the Helsinki City Strategy 2017–2021 plan. According to the plan, the vision of Helsinki is to be the most functional city in the world whose functionality is based on gender equality and non-discrimination, among other things. The strategy also includes a commitment to make gender equality an overarching principle in all city operations. The aim is to have gender equality permeate service development and all key city functions. The measures to promote gender equality in city services are specified in the service gender equality plan.