It is evident that the number of couples and families in the world whose partners are from different countries has increased due to multiple factors. It is therefore important to ask how daily life is lived when different worldviews, cultures, languages, and religions are shared.
It is apparent that intercultural families are a natural flow in the process of the world becoming a global village and it is a good way to become interested in and understand other countries, societies and cultures. In this context I would like to take a look at intercultural families in Finland where I am a resident. Before trying to develop a response, we should review some figures and evidence.
As a result of increased international mobility, intercultural couples are also becoming more common. There are nearly 83.000 intercultural couples and families living in Finland in cohabitation or marriage, where one of the spouses was born in Finland and the other abroad (Finns contract more than 3,000 international marriages every year and one in five foreign-born people live with or marry a Finn). In addition, there are more than 10.000 intercultural families in Finland where both spouses were born abroad but in different countries (Statistics Finland 2020).
In addition, approximately 5.5% of all marriages in Finland are intercultural. A reality that cannot be ignored and that can enrich our social and everyday spaces. This, for a country of almost 5.5 million inhabitants, is a fact to be considered, both in order to generate efficient public policies and to ensure that future governments' developments contribute to the right direction and have a real sense of perspective.
Another fact is the significant number of births in intercultural families. The number of newborn babies in Finland's 10 largest municipalities with at least one parent born abroad was 3,446 in 2020. 68% of these newborn babies were born in the metropolitan area (Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa). This is mainly explained by the fact that a large part of the population resides in the central-southern part of the country, where economic, educational and job opportunities are mainly found.
According to Statistics Finland there are 152.563 people under the age of 30 that have at least one parent who was born abroad. 144.345 of them are Finnish citizen. There are various academic studies on multicultural identity in children and young people. For example, according to Erina Ogawa (Multicultural children: their cultural identities as communicated by their parents, 2007) multiculturalism and multilingualism are an important part of their identity and personal development. The number of Finnish citizens with dual nationality was last year 143.256. There was an increase of 5.6% compared to the previous year. In my opinion it is positive that the number of dual citizens has increased. Dual citizenship is not possible between all countries, and I imagine that it can be difficult to choose between two citizenships.
In conclusion it can be said that multiculturalism is part of everyday life for many families in Finland. As the number of intercultural families is increasing, it is important that their role in society is recognized. Children growing up in intercultural families must be supported so that they feel part of society. Instead of being ignored, multiculturalism should be seen as diversity that should be taken advantage of, rather than ignored or excluded. The Pandemic has made us realize that our close ones, family members and friends are the cornerstone in our lives. However, the socio-cultural changes of the last decades have transformed the institution what was traditionally called the family. These new family forms and intercultural families teach us new things and enrich our society.
Victor Garrido Estrada
Advocacy and communication intern
blogi - blog
Ajatuksia ja kokemuksia elämästä kahden kulttuurin keskellä.
Reflections and experiences from the life of intercultural families.
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