Naistenkartano was established in 1922.

Naistenkartano is an organization established first in 1922 to take preventive action towards women’s mental health and addiction issues. During its 100 years of existence, the organization first started as women’s abstinence movement but has today shifted its perspective towards a more holistic understanding of women’s well-being. Our main form of activity are the NOVAT peer support groups designed specifically for women’s needs. We welcome all expressions of female identity in our group activities. The organization strives to support women by giving them tools to be empowered and strengthening their feeling of being in control of their own everyday lives.

Central topics for Naistenkartano:

  • peer support groups for women
  • self-help and emphasis on strengths and resources
  • empowerment of women
  • women’s advocacy work

For a modern Finnish woman, there are numerous roles to maintain and expectations regarding those roles to live up to. Men and women still face different challenges in their lives in modern-day Finland. Therefore, there is a need for gender-specific services for women where they can share and think about their lives, social relationships, and personal growth in a safe and gender-conscious environment. Challenges in mental health might follow from feelings of stress, loneliness, anger, bitterness or guilt in daily life.

What kind of services do we offer?

  • NOVAT peer support groups for women, both online nation-wide and face to face primarily in Helsinki and Tampere areas
  • Anonymous online support one to one
  • Webinars, lectures and workshops on topics related to women’s well-being open for all
  • Support, education and consulting other professionals in the field of social well-being on questions regarding women’s well-being
  • Coordinating a nation-wide network of professionals in the field of women-specific social work

What are our mission and service promise?

Our mission: Women feel free to be themselves. They question roles and expectations that are being set for them from the outside. Their mental well-being improves and they feel more in control of their own everyday lives.

Service promise: Participants in peer support group activities feel more in control of their lives and feel that they are not alone. They feel free to be themselves. Their personal relationship with their inner selves and self-awareness and acceptance improves.

The NOVAT Programme

NOVAT is based on the self-help programme originally created by American sociologist J. Kirkpatrick. Naistenkartano has made some adaptions to the programme, so the programme fits the cultural context of Finland. The name NOVAT is an abbreviation for “Naiset Ovat” which refers to women’s right to define themselves in Finnish. NOVAT groups follow a structure provided by the NOVAT handbook that explores various topics regarding women’s well-being in a structured manner. There is a very clear structure and theme for each meeting, provided by the NOVAT handbook. These topics include, for example, the relationship with oneself, social relationships, self-acceptance and boundaries.

There is a self-help element to most of our groups, which means that us employees are there to guide and facilitate the group in the beginning, the first couple of weeks, after which the groups start meeting independently. If there are any issues in the groups, the group coordinators are always available for help and support. The coordinators attend 1-2 meetings during the group process and also when the group has their last meeting.

There are four different main variations of NOVAT groups, which all vary in their length and manner of operating:

  • Long NOVAT (“pitkä-NOVAT”) has 32 meetings, and lasts around 8 months
  • Short NOVAT (“Lyhyt-NOVAT”) lasts for 12 weeks
  • Mini NOVAT lasts for five weeks, is free of charge, and guided and facilitated by staff all the way through. There is also a written version or this group (online based), which can be attended anonymously.
  • We also organize thematic NOVAT groups, such as “baby NOVAT” for new mothers and “art NOVAT” in which NOVAT themes are explored through various creative methods, such as movement or painting

These groups meet either face to face or online via video platform. Groups in Helsinki meet in Kalliolan Setlementtitalo and in Tampere at our regional office space.

Participants of NOVAT programme

Reasons why women join our groups (based on questionnaires women fill out before the meetings start):

  • stress
  • difficult feelings like shame, guilt
  • loneliness
  • a chance to improve self-awareness
  • relationship challenges, such as people-pleasing, prioritising other people’s needs over their own
  • addictive behaviours
  • depression
  • just feeling a bit “off” and not knowing why
  • wish to know oneself better and get rid of harmful patterns of thinking
  • a chance to discuss things with other women.

Who joins our groups?

All women over the age of 18 who are willing to participate in peer support groups are welcome. Women attending NOVAT groups come from different backgrounds, age groups and from different parts of Finland. Despite that, they always tend to find things that they have in common, even if there are many things that are also different.

What do women get out of it?

  • a sense of not being alone
  • growing self-awareness
  • more acceptance and self-compassion towards themselves
  • finding new resources and strengths within themselves
  • feeling more in control of their lives.

Read more about NOVAT in English here

Contact information

If you have questions or wish to know more about Naistenkartano in English, please contact us at: info(a)

Naistenkartano, main office
Kalliola settlement house
Sturenkatu 11
00510 Helsinki

Naistenkartano, Tampere regional branch
Itsenäisyydenkatu 12-14 L 9 C,
33500 Tampere