SPEECH GIVEN BY EEVA AHTISAARI
AT THE UNVEILING CEREMONY OF THE WORKING MOTHER -STATUE
ON MAY 12, 1996
This 'Working Mother' statue is the first monument in Helsinki to depict a woman and her everyday work. It is a tribute to the countless working mothers who looked after their homes, raised their children and helped to earn the family's daily bread outside the home. As raisers of children and models, mothers are symbols of the chain of generations. The mother figure represents permanence, the child continuity - work for a better, safer tomorrow is a goal they share.
It has been particularly gratifying to see how the people of Kallio, Vallila and Sörnäinen have managed to launch what almost amounted to a national movement in aid of the statue. This movement, initiated by actor Keijo Komppa and 'Krista's gang', got off to a good start after a modest beginning. We can now say that the project fulfilled the task it set out to do: it brought many interested people together, created a strong spirit of togetherness and helped the residents of Helsinki realize that they share in a new homestead in the city.
The work towards the common goal largely proceeded on a voluntary basis. The Statue Committee under its chairman Pauli Harzell, exceeded all expectations. Many individual people helped at different stages of the project and supported the Committee's work in an invaluable way. Numerous corporations, companies, trade unions and authorities gave donations. This joint endeavour of years of fund-raising for the statue further enhanced the already distinct and powerful urban identity of this part of Helsinki. The Committee was never short of ideas and arranged dozens of events: literary matinees, slang-speaking contests, concerts, garden parties, gymnastic performances. Mini-statuettes, postcards and booklets of entertaining articles were also sold to raise money for the 'Working Mother'. When my husband and I attended a Christmas concert at Kallio Church on December 3, 1995, I could sense the excitement felt by all the people who had taken part in the project.
It is no coincidence that this 'Working Mother' statue is being unveiled today - on Mother's Day. In Finland, women have always been involved in chores and other work within the family. This tradition has given birth to a strong, independent working woman, a mother who has unfailingly borne her responsibility for the family's welfare. The Finnish woman has been a survivor both in the countryside and in town. With her husband, she has helped to build a better future for her family and the nation. Thanks to her, Finnish society is today one of the most equalitarian in the world. This 'Working Mother' statue bears national witness to the infinitely valuable work of Finnish working mothers for the good of the nation.
I would like express my thanks to the sculptor, Panu Patomäki, and the caster, Pauli Venäläinen, for work well done.
I hereby unveil the 'Working Mother' statue.