International Helvi Sipilä Seminar

International Helvi Sipilä Seminar at the CSW since 2006

Helvi Sipilä was a Finnish lawyer, diplomat and the first female Assistant Secretary-General of the UN. Sipilä received numerous national and international awards including twelve honorary doctorates, and she was granted the honorary title of Minister in 2001.

Helvi Sipilä also held leadership position in several associations, including the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, International Federation of Women Lawyers and the International Council of Women.

Helvi Sipilä’s profession in law was exceptional at the time. When she announced the opening of her own law firm in 1943, she became the second woman in the Finnish history to practice as a lawyer. She ran her own law firm for 30 years. Private entrepreneurship enabled her to engage in extensive social activities, including service as a member of governmental missions.

While Assistant Secretary-General, she was appointed Secretary-General of the UN World Conference on Women in Mexico 1975. She continued to work as a consultant for the UN until 1981, in order to promote the UN Voluntary Fund for the Advancement of Women, later known as UNIFEM, set up during the UN Decade for Women 1976 – 1985. Helvi Sipilä was a well-known and respected advocate for equality and women’s rights. Her important legacy will live on.

The first international Helvi Sipilä Seminar was organized at the CSW50 in 2006 by the Finnish Federation of University Women (FFUW) in collaboration with four other Finnish Women’s organizations to honor the work of Minister Helvi Sipilä.