ユッカ・シウコサーリ 駐日フィンランド大使



Dear Japanese friends,
Jukka SIUKOSAARI  Ambassador of Finland

The maternity package is one of the greatest social innovations from Finland. It is a practical gift from the Finnish state to parents of newborns. The core idea of the package is to give all children in our country a more equal start to life.
Every Finnish mother receives a maternity grant when she delivers a baby. Mothers can choose between a cash grant or the physical maternity package, which contains well designed good quality clothing and various baby-care products.
The cardboard box itself can be used as a safe bed for baby. Of the 60,000 maternity grants distributed annually in Finland, two-thirds are taken as maternity packages. Of those becoming mother for the first time, 95 % opt for the package instead of the cash grant.
This year is especially significant historically, as the maternity package now turns 80 years ‒ the first packages were distributed to Finnish mothers already in 1938. Maternity package has also been a way to get almost all new mothers to sign up for health care check-ups ever since. Finland’ s child mortality rate is among the lowest in the world, partly thanks to the maternity grant and associated health services in the "neuvola" system.
In addition to the wellbeing benefits, maternity package has a very significant symbolic value: it shows how the society appreciates and supports the newborn child and his/her family. It is also the first concrete sign for the parents of their awaited baby to be born. Opening the box opens up a whole new life: as a parent and as a new family. The maternity package symbolizes love and care.
Finnish maternity package has also been a global success story. As a result of an ongoing research project carried out at the University of Tampere, the researchers have identified more than 90 local versions of the maternity package in over 60 countries, including Japan.
I hope that this exhibition offers the visitors the opportunity to explore the origins and development of the Finnish maternity package and also encourages them to appreciate a society that supports young parents and loving child care.

1 Photo: Annika Söderblom
2 Photo: Hanna Söderström / Source: Sauna from Finland
3 Photo: Sakari Piippo
4 Photo: Hanna Söderström / Source: Sauna from Finland
5 Photo: MMM arkisto
6 Photo: Kimmo Brandt