Our Empathy Ambassador Venla Vaattovaara illustrated a hundred women she admired for a hundred days. “I believe that the more empathy you spread around you, the more empathy you get back in return.” Vaattovaara has also illustrated our empathy superheroes – find out which hero you are in our empathy test!
Venla Vaattovaara, why is it important to talk about empathy?
Often kindness isn’t appreciated enough. Instead there’s talk about someone being too kind or too empathetic. It would be important to define the meaning of empathy in public discussion because the word is often misunderstood. Empathy isn’t about submitting, or weakness, but it’s the power of humanness. Empathy is the only way to cope together.
How do you bring more empathy to the world?
With my Muijavaara Instagram account, I want to expand the representation of people, and diversify the images of heroes that we have around the world. My goal is to tell their stories, and I would like to continue this work and to further strengthen the voice of the people whom I illustrate. I believe that the more empathy you spread around you, the more empathy you get back in return.
What kind of empathetic moments have moved you?
I spent a couple of weeks in Lapland with my grandmother at the beginning of the year after my grandfather had passed. I was deeply moved by the village’s communal spirit and its tight knitted-ness. Although small communities may often be claustrophobic, there is so much power in them at times of loss. Everyone knew my grandfather, and for example if I went to the shop, many came to offer their condolences and to share their memories of my grandfather. Sharing my grief with them was exactly what I needed and it gave me so much strength.
As the world is more and more automated and run by machines, the one thing that only humans can do is be humane
Why should Finland be an empathetic society?
As the world is more and more automated and run by machines, the one thing that only humans can do is be humane. I wish that Finland could lead the way in this. We could be the country known for its humanity and willingness to tackle climate change.
Who is your empathy role model?
I look up to a lot of people, and I’ve made admiring and uplifting other women a trademark for myself. After all, Muijavaara is actually fan-art! But I have to say Tarja Halonen, because she is so wise and kind hearted. We’ve been talking with my friends about celebrities and whose death would move us on a personal level and I said Tarja Halonen, and just the thought of it immediately made me want to cry.