Marjatta Väänänen
Humanist of the day

Marjatta Väänänen

Marjatta Väänänen has forged a long career as a journalist, politician and opinion-shaper. She is remembered from the 1970s and 1980s as a strong minister who defended cultural diversity against Taistoism, a pro-Soviet movement within the Finnish Communist party, and pushed through improvements in the status of housewives. She was also a supporter of Nordic cooperation, and an advocate for school children of Finnish decent living in Sweden. Marjatta Väänänen also enjoyed a long career as a women’s representative, among others at the National Council of Women of Finland. She was awarded the honorary title of minister in 1994.

Marjatta Väänänen

Helmi Marjatta Väänänen (nee Kittilä)
Born August 9, Jyväskylä

Bachelor of Arts 1949, Master of Arts 1950 (literature, art history, German), University of Helsinki

Culture editor at the communications centre of the Agrarian League, 1949–52
Theatre critic 1949–72, freelance journalist 1952–63
Culture editor 1963–1970, Kotiliesi
Division manager (Public relations) 1972–75, Valio
Department manager 1975–86, Valio

Centre Party Member of Parliament 1975–91
Junior Minister of Education in Kalevi Sorsa’s first government, September 4, 1972 to June 13, 1975
Minister of Education in Martti Miettunen’s third government 29 September 1976 to 15 May 1977
Junior Minister of Social Affairs in Kalevi Sorsa’s third government February 19, 1982 to May 6, 1983
Member of the Finnish presidential electoral college 1978 and 1982
Member of Helsinki City Council 1976–84

Literary production:
Maaseudun nainen (‘A country woman’), 1956
Sadekesän kirjeitä (‘Letters from a rainy summer’), 1974
Suoraan eestä Suomenmaan (‘Straight ahead to Finland’) 1996
The Heikintytär column in the newspaper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus 1978–2013

Photo: Centre party and countryside archive
Written by Tiia Niemelä
Translated by Matthew Billington