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MEP Satu Hassi

Listen to Satu Hassi’s introduction here »

Born 1951, mother of two daughters, Licensiate of Technology, married

To work for a change, you have to gain credibility in the eyes of those who hold the power.
But how can  you prevent yourself from turning into one of them and losing your own original spirit? This is not an easy task.

The crucial test of my youth was to lead the 1969 pupils’ Workday collection for Mosambique Institute, which organised school and healthcare for the areas liberated from the Portuguese imperial power. Because of this, I, at the time 18 years old,  got into trouble with the local leading newspaper, Aamulehti. Same autumn I got elected for the Teiniliitto (Teen League) board for the year 1970 and the next year I was the vice-chair.

The first half of the the 1970s I participated in the leftist student movement. 1971-1972 I was a delegate of Helsinki University Student Union and I studied economics at the Faculty of Social Sciences. After that I decided to move to Otaniemi to study engineering. There I got quickly active in movement for the administration reform of the universities. We organised lecture boycott in the autumn 1972 and in the spring 1973. I also got elected as a delegate for Student Union of University of Technology. The same time I was a member of board of Socialist Student League. The big energy crisis in the 1973 convinced me to choose electronics and energy technology as my major.

In 1975 I moved to Tampere, where I graduated in 1979 and gave birth to two daughters in 1976 and 1979. I tried “honest work”, I started as the first woman engineer at Oy Tampella Ab Tamrock in 1979. In 1981 I fled to Tampere University of Technology to work as a substitute assistant. There I started to become familiar with alternative energy solutions.

During that time I was also active in womens’ organisations and Women for Peace movement. In August 1983 I walked together with a nordic womens’ group from New York to Washington to protest the new, the so called, euro missales.

In 1984 I published my first book, a collection of poems. The same autumn I was elected for the Tampere City Council from the green list. At that time I worked as a teacher in Tampere University of Technology. The latter half of 1980s I was a freelance writer.

The latter half of 1980s I was a freelance writer and green councillor in Tampere. At the council my biggest battle was Tampella agreement in 1989.  Tampella is an old factory area in Tampere, which was about to be demolished. We faced a crushing defeat, but the public supported us and later we won the case in court. Nowadays Tampella factory area has a pretty good city pla. This scenery was also captured in the old 20 marks’ note. That same autumn I was elected as a vice chair of the Green League. In 1990 we wrote the first party program with Pekka Sauri and Pauli Välimäki.

Spring 1991 I was elected to the parliament. I was the chair of Green Parliamentary Group the years 1991-1993 and again in 1997. The things with which I worked the most were economic and energy policy, foreign policy and gender issues. In 1997 I was elected to the leader of the Green Party. From1999 to 2002 I worked as Minister for Environment and Development Issues. Summer 1997 I was voted for the chair of the Green League. My term ended in 2001.

Between 1999 and 2002 I worked as a Minister of the Environment and Development Issues in the second Government of PM Paavo Lipponen. April 2002 the parliament gave its approval to build a new nuclear power reactor in Finland. This was an enormous disappointment for the greens. Green League Council and the parliamentary group considered the possibility to continue work in the government in May 2002 and after a thorough discussion we decided to leave the government.

Greens stayed in the opposition during the next, PM Jäätteenmäki’s government, although the party was one of the winners in 2003 elections. Before the European Parliament elections I was the chair of the parliamentary group.

I have been writing and speaking a lot about a feminist, or generally alternative, perspective on power.

When I joined the greens, I defined the green perspective like this: we defend values, which cannot be measured in monetary terms. Woman engineers and greens who work within the old power structures often face the same basic problem:  To work for a change, you have to gain credibility in the eyes of those who hold the power. But how can  you prevent yourself from turning into one of them and losing your own original spirit? This is not an easy task.

I consider my personal strengths to be versatility, persistence and courage to put myself on the line.

In 2009, I published a book called My Hair on a Hat Shelf which is based on my diaries between August 2000 and May 2002.