Teenager fills Finnish PM’s seat on “Girls Takeover” day

Sixteen-year-old Aava Murto, a student from southern Finland, was acting prime minister of Finland on Wednesday.

The opportunity was created by Sanna Marin, the country’s real prime minister, who decided to participate in the “Girls Takeover” campaign organized by children rights charity, Plan International, to mark the United Nations (UN) International Day of the Girl Child, which falls on Oct. 11.

Following a working breakfast with Marin, acting PM Murto stood in for the real PM in meetings with Chancellor of Justice Tuomas Poysti and Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari. While Marin attended the budget debate in parliament, acting PM Murto met reporters on the steps of the same building.

Murto said she had told Poysti that the security of social media platforms should be improved to protect girls from abuse. “The idea is not to evict girls from social media but to make the sites safer,” said Murto, adding that a recent study indicated that 42 percent of girls in Finland had encountered abuse on the internet. Murto also argued that girls should learn more about technology and be confident that they are “as good as boys.”

She noted that the World Economic Forum had estimated that over 90 percent of future jobs will require advanced digital skills. Alongside the PM’s Office, the executives of several major institutions and companies also had girls as “replacements” on Wednesday in Finland. In a press release marking the “Girls Takeover” event, Marin noted that digital innovations “must not deepen the digital divide between countries or within societies.”

“The digital divide between the genders is particularly great when we look at the share of girls and women working as developers of technology,” Marin said, adding that “innovation must serve to eliminate inequality.”

Marin, 34, became Finland’s prime minister last December. She is considered the world’s youngest incumbent prime minister. She is the third female PM and the youngest PM in Finnish history.