Every year on March 19, the Finns celebrate Equality Day ( Phine. Tasa-arvon päivä ). It coincides with the birthday of Minna Kant, a writer, playwright, journalist, public figure who lived in the second half of the 19th century. The Ministry of the Interior of Finland proposed to celebrate this date in 2003, and in 2007 it officially entered the calendar of public holidays.
Minna Kant ( fin. Minna Canth, 1844 — 1897 ) — under such an abbreviated name is the native of Ulric Wilhelmina Johnson ( Ulrika Wilhelmina Johnsson ) — dedicated her works in Finnish and Swedish to women, paying particular attention to their difficult share and unfair treatment of them. Largely thanks to her, in 1906, in the Grand Duchy of Finland, women received suffrage on an equal footing with men — for the first time in all of Europe.
The future writer and the first Finnish female journalist was born in the family of a merchant, a former factory worker. Wilhelmina received a good education at the teacher's seminary, but she never began to teach — she married Johan Ferdinand Kant, giving birth to seven children from him.
However, after only 14 years of marriage, Minna’s spouse died, and in order to feed her family, she had to master the entrepreneurship — to manage a store selling threads, which previously belonged to her father. Successful business allowed Minne to engage in literary and social activities in parallel, and her house became a meeting place for the Finnish intelligentsia. Her salon discussed the progressive ideas of Darwinism and materialistic philosophy, the problems of female equality and the secondary position of the Finnish language and culture.
Minna Kant's birthday is celebrated today by all of Finland. On March 19, state flags are raised in the country in honor of Equality Day, and flowers are brought to the monument of the writer.