Press Release

Finnish Songwriter Mikko Kuustonen to be Named UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador

01 October 1998

NEW YORK โ€“ Finnish singer and songwriter Mikko Kuustonen has agreed to become the first person from his country to be named Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). He will be appointed formally and later introduced at a press briefing on 7 October at United Nations Headquarters, New York.

The musician accepted, in August, a UNFPA invitation to become its Goodwill Ambassador and spokesman in Finland for the Face to Face advocacy campaign of the Fund, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), Vaestoliitto (the Family Federation of Finland) and 18 other European non-governmental organizations.

The three-year campaign aims to build support for increased funding for reproductive health services for women and to publicize the plight of millions of women denied basic human rights, including family planning and other heath services. Each minute, a woman dies of causes related to pregnancy. Face to Face will also sensitize the public on the need for women's empowerment and an end to practices such as gender discrimination and female genital mutilation.

Mr. Kuustonen's first mission as Goodwill Ambassador will be the late 1998 production of a television series called 10 Women: Face to Face. The 15-minute series will narrate the ordeals of 10 women in Africa, Asia and Latin America. They tell stories of personal triumph over conditions that would be shocking to most inhabitants of the developed world. From female genital mutilation and child prostitution to lack of family planning counselling and pregnancy-related health care services, each of the women had to overcome adversity and injustice that 179 States vowed to correct or ban at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo.

Mikko Kuustonen has developed a worldwide reputation in more than 20 years in the music business. One of his bands was the rhythm and blues-inspired Q. Stone. The group recorded three albums in English, which raised international interest in Mr. Kuustonen's music. He has also released seven albums in his native tongue. One of those went platinum while three went gold.

Much of the inspiration for Mr. Kuustonen's music comes from his involvement in developing countries, where he has travelled extensively, writing articles on his trips in Finnish newspapers and magazines. He has also produced a documentary for Finnish television called, Bom Dia Mozambique. At this stage in his career, the Ambassador is almost as well-known for his passionate advocacy as for his music.

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