Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Finland's population registry website excludes visible minorities

Finland is still very much a racially homogeneous country -- predominantly made up of white Finnish-speaking and Swedish-speaking people. The homogeneous nature of the population is reflected in most walks of life in the country where people of African descent or visible minorities are not represented or are relegated to the background. A look at the homepage of the population registry's website supports this assertion.

The website of the Population Register Centre (in Finnish: Väestörekisterikeskus) portrays a complete lack of racial and ethnic diversity in Finland. The last time I checked, photos displayed on the home page (see screenshot) of the website showed diversity in terms on gender, sex and age -- which is good. But ethnic or racial diversity was completely out of the picture despite the fact that Finland has visible minorities registered in the population register.

Finland has a total population of over 5 million people and it is estimated that the population will hit 5.5 million in 2015. As a member of Finnish society, I can attest to the fact that the country's population is racially diverse -- although a first look at the website of the population registry suggests otherwise. Even the website of Kela, the social insurance institute, shows a racially homogeneous Finland.

The population of Finland increased by 13,050 persons between January and July 2013 and the main reason for population growth was immigration. According to Statistics Finland's statistics on population structure, every tenth person aged 25 to 34 living permanently in Finland in 2012 was of foreign origin -- approximately 12 per cent of all persons with foreign origin were of African descent and about one-quarter were of Asian origin.

In my view, Finland's non-whites or so-called people of color have been relegated to the background and are not portrayed as part of the society. Many do not occupy prominent positions in public life as journalists, police officers, lawmakers, ministers or teachers. Visible minorities are not even portrayed as part of the society on national and governmental websites like that of Kela and Väestorekisterikeskus. It might take some time for visible minorities to occupy elevated positions in public life -- but I am convinced that simple changes in graphics and photographs on national and governmental websites will go a long way to show visible minorities that they are welcomed and accepted as part of the society.

In this age of information technology websites send resounding messages. The last time I checked, the website of Finland's population registry sent a disturbing message, in my interpretation, that visible minorities are not part of Finland's population structure. The population registry's home page should be updated to include racial and ethnic diversity that is representative of Finland's population structure.


  1. Zueeko, great blog entry! Thank you for telling us something that should be told.

  2. Each person in these pictures represent about 7% of population. I hope there is no swedish talking persons in picture, there is only 5% of population whom native language is swedish. If there would be 100 persons in picture, should we add there 1 african, 1 midle-eastern and 1 eastern origin? Do we need to add there too 2 gays and to lesbians too, and propably we should take religions in account too. Does this sound ridiculous to you too? In my experience Finland is relatively racism free country, but allways you can find it somewhere if you dig really hard.

    1. You don't sound ridiculous -- you sound like you don't understand the subject. The bone of contention here is the glaring absence of visible minorities in the racially homogeneous photo display. Canada's Employment Equity Act defines a "visible minority" as a non-Caucasian or non-white person. Gays and lesbians are not visible minorities in this context and, in my view, they are represented in the photo display. The photos on the home page of the population registry were carefully selected to show gender and age diversity. It would be interesting to know why diversity on grounds of race, color or ethnicity was left out.

      Let me be clear: I've not said the population registry is racist. I simply think "people of color" were not taken into consideration in the photo selection. You might think it doesn't matter, but I think it does. The population registry knows better.


Search this Blog

Related Posts with Thumbnails