Thesis 2021

Specialization: Gender Studies

Gendered Inequalities in the Domestic Sphere : A Study of Nepalese Women’s Situation During COVID-19 Lockdown

“Gendered inequality occurs in a household when there are hierarchal distributions of roles in task performance, with most of the workload falling on one gender category. While gendered disparities origins from long-standing societal and cultural norms, the domestic sphere is a social environment where such differences situate and persist. In Nepal, the patriarchal system establishes systemic barriers to gender equality and distributes disproportionate decision-making authority in the domestic realm between men and women. Since patriarchal traditions regulate women’s workforce, they play submissive positions under male dominance, which establishes separate spaces for men and women, with men in the public domain and women in the private household realm. When women are gendered to perform in the domestic area, they shoulder a significant household and care work that exacerbates during pandemic outbreaks and lockdown, when all family members are stuck at home.

This study examines the origins of patriarchy and unequal gendered roles in Nepalese homes and how women as a gendered group are affected when dealing with social emergencies like pandemic outbreaks.

This thesis’s essence comprises the primary data collected through an online video interview of five Nepalese respondents from different family backgrounds and cities in Nepal and Finland. The Snowball sampling method is applied to choose the respondents for this study. In this research, the employed method is qualitative research through online interviews and open-ended questions, and the interpretative paradigm’s narrative analytical method analyzes the achieved materials. Previous research supports all narrative interpretations in the form of theoretical background.

The findings of this study revealed that Nepalese women perceive themselves as the inferior gender among men and women. This result is from the influence of familial and kinship norms that governed women’s behavior during the Panchayat era. This idea aimed to improve Nepalese women to align their development with that of the women worldwide, resulted in several interferences restricted women’s activities. Thus, these standards articulated patriarchy, which values men rather than women and divides the public and private domestic environments for the former and latter groups, respectively. Women still relegate more to the domestic realm due to the strong continuity of gendered inequalities in the work division. During the pandemic lockdown, this had a detrimental effect on all facets of their life, including a rise in unpaid care and domestic chores and deterioration in health, education, employment, and mental well-being.

This study finds that most women remain relegated to domestic rules, furthering gendered stereotypes in domestic spheres, demonstrating the persistence of historical standards. In addition, the prevalence of gendered household work burden and minor assistance from males in the domestic sphere has affected women’s well-being. During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, this situation increased women’s economic dependency on men and education discontinuity, job instability, and the strain of unpaid domestic and child care duties.”


Specialization: Gender Studies

Structural Vulnerability to Infection : Somali Overrepresentation of Coronavirus Cases in Helsinki, Finland

“As the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 started to unravel as a pandemic in Helsinki, Finland, 200 infections were reported in the local Somali community, as of April 14, 2020 (“Somalinkielisten Koronavirustartunnat,” 2020). Somali speakers comprise 1.8 percent of a city population of 653,835 persons, but represented nearly a fifth of positive cases or “10 times their share of the city’s population” (Helsinki Facts and Figures, 2020; Masri, 2020). The aim of this research project is to probe the extent to which the anti-Black racism and Islamophobia of pre-coronavirus Finland played a role in this overrepresentation.

This thesis utilizes a meta-ethnographic methodology to explore the link between systemic racism and structural vulnerability to infection for Somalis in Helsinki, Finland, as it continues to materialize in the coronavirus pandemic. For the meta-ethnography, 20 qualitative studies, which contextualize Somali “meaning-making and world-views” in sectors of Finnish society, were chosen for examination (Neal-Jackson, 2018, p. 5). Sectors include education, healthcare, housing, immigration and integration, labor market, and law enforcement. The analysis and synthesis of these studies, guided by theoretical frameworks such as Afro-pessimism, demonstrate that systemic racism is operative in Finland and has produced several material consequences for the Somali community. This is observable across each represented sector. From increased allostatic load, poor access to quality healthcare, poor accommodation, and reduced access to education and employment, Somalis are deprioritized and devalued by “a racial calculus and a political arithmetic” of anti-Black racism and Islamophobia (Hartman, 2006, p. 5). This racial calculus produces differential treatment in the individual, interpersonal, sectoral, and systemic level. Because structural vulnerability as theorized by Quesada et. al. (2011, p. 341) is a positionality in social hierarchies and orders that allocate power differentially, the meta-ethnographic analysis and synthesis make clear that Somalis are currently one of the communities at the bottom of the hierarchical social order in Finland. From this depreciated position, Somalis are made structurally vulnerable in moments of crisis like an international pandemic.”


Specialization: Gender Studies

Mobility and belonging in return migration experiences : Narratives of Ingrian Finns’ returnees from Russia

“This thesis examines how Ingrian Finns experience return migration and what the implications of returning home mean for them. In 1990, the Finnish then-president Mauno Koivisto announced that Finnish descendants of the former Soviet Union citizens had the right to return to Finland. Approximately, 30,000 people migrated from the former Soviet Union to Finland as Ingrian Finns’ returnees during the return migration program from 1990 to 2011. The existing research on Ingrian Finn’s return migration exclusively focuses on the discursive analysis of identity construction in terms of how Ingrian Finns’ Finnish background can be identified through the notion of Finnishness at the institutional level. Based on a mixed-method qualitative approach, I use semi-structured interviews with a biographical narrative method and text materials from an exhibition, Ingrians – The forgotten Finns held at the National Museum of Finland. My purpose in this thesis is to provide an alternative story to dominant narratives that situate Ingrian Finns in the context of Finnish cultural and historical homogeneity. Considering mobility as politics of movement, representations, and practices, I illustrate the experiences and implications of Ingrian Finn’s return migration. The 1990 Koivisto’s statement is not necessarily motivated them to stay in Finland but their temporal conditions and desires shape the return decisions and processes. Notably, Ingrian Finn’s mobility manifests a form of bordering practices, which not only represent an ideological border between West and East but also the interconnectedness of social relations concerning nationality, language, class, race, gender, and sexuality. By incorporating the notion of fragmentation into belonging, I present the way Ingrian Finns live with the cross-border relations of language, memories, and home. The concept of fragmentation opens up possibilities for analyzing Ingrian Finns beyond the national borders and offers an insight into various modes of belonging. In the dominant narratives, Ingrian Finn’s belonging is associated with the feelings of rootlessness and pains, however, my informants convey a sense of belonging through resistance and closeness to the notion of Finnishness and Ingrianness, and in-between-ness.”


Specialization: Study of Religions

Australia Has Never Felt as Far Away as Now : Australians In Finland And Social Exclusion During the COVID-19 Era

“Through critical theories of social exclusion and alienation, this chapter seeks to outline the difficulties that Australian citizens have faced on the subject of returning to their home country after Australia closed their borders in March 2020 as a reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak. I will analyse, discuss, and investigate different national reactions of the COVID-19 case. Using data collected from a focus group interview with five Australians residents in Finland, I employ phenomenology methods to analyse the data with reference to my research question: if Australians feel excluded due to the Australian border restrictions. This chapter argue that Australians, that were not able to return before the national border closure in Australia and cancellation of international flights, suffer from alienation from their homeland. Such alienation and exclusion can prevail and further distance and isolate Australian individuals overseas from their counterparts/family within Australia. The limited capacity of returning Australian citizens from overseas has excluded citizens from returning, and the expenses of flights and self-financed quarantine in Australia is leading to further difficulties for them to be able to return.”


Specialization: Study of Religion

Like I am the kind of a bad mom who wanted to go back to work and he is the most fantastic dad who wants to stay at home : A Qualitative Study on How Common Attitudes Affect Mothers’ Well-being in the Finnish Society

“The Finnish society is often described as a society where gender equality is on a high level. However, through these kinds of assumptions, the problems regarding, for example, gender equality and parenting often remain hidden. Social exclusion is a process of being unable to fully participate in the society. This thesis seeks to answer the question what characterizes Finnish mothers’ experiences of social exclusion and how possible negative attitudes affect mothers’ well-being in the Finnish society. By using social exclusion theory, this thesis seeks to shed light on how mothers in Finland are in a less beneficial position in, for example, the labor market and how the gender pay gap creates a loop where mothers find it difficult to escape their excluded position, as they are usually the parent who takes the majority of the parental leave. Moreover, the male breadwinner attitude in Finnish society still exists.

The methodology used for the thesis is narrative methodology and analysis. Five Finnish mothers have been interviewed for the thesis and the main focus has been on their experiences regarding the labor market, gender equality and attitudes about motherhood. This thesis highlights some core issues regarding motherhood and gender equality in Finland. These core issues reside in labor market attitudes, work division in relationships and the male breadwinner attitude in general. The major argument in this thesis is that mothers are discriminated against in the labor market and common attitudes regarding gender equality and motherhood establish feelings of frustration and sadness in the mothers. The gender pay gap in Finland creates a loop where women take most of the parental leave and are, therefore, left behind in salary development. Moreover, the attitude persistent today is that women have the main responsibility for the children and for taking care of the home. Traditional gender roles are still persistent in the Finnish society.”


Specialization: History

Anti-blackness in Egypt : Between Stereotypes and Ridicule – An Examination on the History of Colorism and the development of Anti-blackness in Egypt

“This research recognizes the absence of a term that defines color prejudices and racial discrimination in the Arab world. Accordingly, this study proposes the notion of anti-blackness to examine color-based discrimination in Egypt. By identifying anti-blackness as part of a multilayered socio-cultural process, this research engages with the historical, social, and cultural factors that led to its development. This research also explores the implications of anti-blackness on black people living in Egypt. A sample of media is analyzed using the critical discourse analysis (CDC) method to observe the portrayal of black people in Egyptian media. This study concludes that the historical development of social stigma and cultural stereotypes around blackness has led to anti-blackness in Egyptian society.”


Specialization: Gender Studies

Mirror, mirror on the wall, why am I not the fairest of them all? – an Afrocentric approach to the lack of representation of Afro-Finnish women within the Finnish beauty standard

“In this master’s thesis, I critically examine the beauty standard present in Finland and how it excludes Afro-Finnish women. This thesis is completed partially as a written text and the analysis aspect comes in form of a three-part podcast series.

The research aims to shed light on the exclusion of Afro-Finnish women, understand why beauty in Finland means inhabiting whiteness and how detrimental it becomes for people who do not inhabit Eurocentric features. With the help of Afrocentricity and intersectionality as the main theories these aspects will be analyzed. Additionally, concepts such as colorism, capitalism and the politics of hair will be discussed. Furthermore, the notion of the self as a critical opponent regarding embracing one’s beauty will be discussed, and how aspects such as social media, beauty trends and beauty industries can both aid and damage the self. Moreover, I want to emphasize healing practices, along with Afrocentric perspective being useful for AfroFinnish women’s self-loving journey. The material for the thesis is a combination of discussions in form of interviews paired with academic and non-academic articles. The material was then analyzed with the help of textual analysis. To critically examine the beauty standard in Finland, is done with the intent to strive for dismantling oppressive tools and to give recognition for a wider notion of feeling beautiful.”