Sari Miriam Essayah (born 21 February 1967 in Haukivuori) is a Finnish retired race walker and a politician, former Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and Member of Parliament since 2015. She is the president of the Finnish Christian Democrats party. Her father is from Morocco.
During her sports career, Essayah competed mainly in 5 000 and 10 000 metres. In the latter, she won the World Championship in 1993 and the European Championship in 1994. She made seven national records, all of which are still standing.
After retiring from sports she entered politics and represented the Christian Democrats in the Finnish parliament between 2003–2007 but failed to get reelected in the election of 2007. She served as the Christian Democrats' party secretary from 2007 to 2009. Essayah was elected to the European Parliament in 2009 but failed to be reelected in 2014 despite her 61 000 votes. This left the Finnish Christian Democrats without MEPs in the 2014 election.
Essayah was candidate in the Finnish presidential election, 2012. She came last with 2.47 percent of the votes.
In the 2015 Parliamentary elections, Essayah was elected to represent a newly formed constituency of Savonia and Karelia with over 11 000 votes. She was later chosen to be the vice speaker of the Christian Democrats' Parliamentary group. In August, she was chosen the new chair of her party after her predecessor, Päivi Räsänen, retired from the position after over ten years.
|1987||World Championships||Rome, Italy||19th||10 km||47:30|
|1989||Universiade||Duisburg, West Germany||3rd||5000 m||21:34|
|1990||European Championships||Split, Yugoslavia||5th||10 km||45:10|
|1991||World Race Walking Cup||San Jose, United States||16th||10 km||46:20|
|Universiade||Sheffield, England||1st||10 km||44:04|
|World Championships||Tokyo, Japan||3rd||10 km||43:13|
|1992||Olympic Games||Barcelona, Spain||4th||10 km||45:08|
|1993||World Race Walking Cup||Monterrey, Mexico||2nd||10 km||45:18|
|World Championships||Stuttgart, Germany||1st||10 km||42:59|
|1994||European Championships||Helsinki, Finland||1st||10 km||42:37|
|1995||World Race Walking Cup||Beijing, PR China||12th||10 km||44:21|
|World Championships||Gothenburg, Sweden||4th||10 km||42:20|
|1996||Olympic Games||Atlanta, United States||16th||10 km||45:02|
- ^Candidates, Yle site for EU elections 2014. May 26, 2014.
- ^ Yle site for Parliamentary elections 2015. April 24, 2015.
MP Sari Essayah
Sari Essayah is a member of the Finnish Parliament and the chairperson of the Finnish Christian Democratic Party.
Sari is married to Robert Knapp and they have two daughters born in 1998 and 2001. In her 20s, Sari Essayah was a worldclass athlete with both European and world championship titles in race walking to her name. Mrs Essayah gained a Master of Science degree in business administration from the University of Vaasa in 1995.
After ending her athletic career, Mrs Essayah joined Finland’s Christian Democratic Party in 1996 and was elected to the municipal council of Lapinlahti where she served until her family moved to Southwest Finland.
She was elected to the Finnish Parliament in 2003, serving as the chairman of the parliamentary group from 2004 to 2007. In 2007 she was appointed as the Christian Democratic Party’s secretary general.
In June 2009 Sari Essayah was elected to the European parliament where she joined the group of the European People’s Party. She was a member of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and a substitute member of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. Mrs Essayah was also a full member of the European Parliament’s delegation for relations with Israel and the delegation to the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly as well as a substitute member of the delegation for relations with the Maghreb countries and the Arab Maghreb Union.
Sari Essayah was one of the most active members of the European Parliament. All in all, she tabled numerous amendments to the Commission’s legislative proposals, ranking as the third most industrious MEP out of 766 in this regard. Mrs Essayah was highly respected in the European Parliament by experts, journalists and civil servants, who regarded her as one of the most active and competent Finnish MEPs. In the European Parliament, Sari Essayah consistently resisted initiatives to advance joint EU debt, Eurobonds, a joint Eurozone budget as well as increasing the EU’s overall budget. According to Ms Essayah, European cooperation should not entail the possibility for member states to live beyond their means at another’s expense, but rather, necessary structural reforms and responsible economic policies should be promoted and implemented.
The reports for which Ms Essayah was responsible as rapporteur and shadow rapporteur in the European Parliament have led to savings of tens of billions of euros for the EU economy each year and make life simpler for both entrepreneurs and consumers alike.
Mrs Essayah was one of the most active MEPs in advancing human rights causes worldwide. In particular, she has been active in promoting the freedom of thought, conscience and religion and has signed over 230 resolutions condemning human rights violations.
Outside politics, Sari Essayah has worked as a controller in the telecommunications sector and as an auditor. Sari Essayah also holds various positions of trust in different organisations. She is a member of the Finnish Athletics Association’s economics and marketing committee and race walking committee. She is also Finland’s delegate on the race walking committee of IAAF. Mrs Essayah is an active defender of the rights of persons with disabilities and is a member of the ethics committee of the Finnish Association for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities.