Pride Week at the University:Courageous icons
The theme of this year’s Helsinki Pride Week, which was postponed to the autumn due to the exceptional circumstances, is icons. To celebrate Pride Week, a number of events related to the topic, open to all, will be held at the University of Helsinki. Postdoctoral Researcher Riikka Taavetti emphasises that even though icons play a key role in the community, equality cannot be promoted without addressing structural issues.

Pride Week events at the University of Helsinki

In addition to the traditional flying of flags for equality on the campuses, several online events focused on equality open to all will be held at the University.

Bold role models at the University, Friday, 11 September at 9.00–10.30

The ‘Bold role models at the University’ event, organised by the University’s equality and diversity committee and Helsinki University Library, will highlight courageous role models related to academia and matters that may still be marginalised in, for example, the mainstream media. The event will be held in three languages (Finnish, Swedish and English). You can follow the discussion at Think Corner via a live stream.

Coffee/Tea with Pride, Tuesday, 8 September at 15.00–16.30

As part of the Guidance Corner programme, an easily approachable Coffee/Tea with Pride discussion session will be held on Zoom. Join us for a discussion of themes pertaining to LGBQIA+ communities. The event will be held in Finnish and English.

LGBTIQ+ People of Faith Virtual Seminar, 10 and 11 September

A two-day seminar on religious dialogue will be held via Zoom, with the University of Helsinki as one of the organisers. The event will be held in English.

University community supports courageous icons

Riikka Taavetti, a postdoctoral researcher specialised in political history, investigates the translational history of science in Finnish sex research as well as related notions of sex and sexuality in the Politics of reproduction, sexual health professionals and individual experiences in post-war Finland research project. Taavetti says that icons have the ability to make visible in communities what would otherwise remain unseen. However, she points out that highlighting matters of equality should not remain solely their responsibility. Every member of a community, particularly those in advantageous positions, should feel that they are tasked with pointing out issues arising from the community.

Structures as enablers and delayers of equality

In terms of paying attention to equality and the diversity of the University community, Taavetti points to the significance of structures:

“On the one hand, they provide clear ways of doing things, highlighting the fact that promoting equality and diversity is everyone’s responsibility. On the other, structures easily become discriminatory, unless the diversity of the community is acknowledged. In such cases, the question is for whose benefit these structures have been established,” Taavetti sums up.

As a small but important example of structures that take diversity into account, Taavetti highlights the unisex changing rooms constructed for UniSport Kluuvi in the past renovation. In addition to offering facilities to non-binary exercisers for changing their clothes, they also engender a culture where all members of the community can feel welcome.

Consider others, speak up and get more information

According to Taavetti, members of the University community can, through their everyday activity, promote a culture that acknowledges diversity by considering the beneficiaries of their work. Each individual can also speak up about problems encountered in everyday life and further familiarise themselves with the promotion of equality.

Read more about the Politics of reproduction, sexual health professionals and individual experiences in post-war Finland research project.