Skip to content

Sari Essayah Meprobamate


Master of Science degree in business administration, University of Vaasa (Finland) (1995)


Member of the Youth and Temperance Committee, Lapinlahti (Finland) (1988-1990); Part-time teacher, Northern Savo Higher Education College, Iisalmi (Finland) (1990, 1997); Town Councillor, Lapinlahti, and member of the Inspection and Culture Committee (1996-2000); Auditor, SVH PricewaterhouseCoopers Oy, Kuopio (Finland) (1997-2000); Business Controller, TeliaSonera Finland Oyj/Auria Oy/Turun Puhelin Oy, Turku (Finland) (2000-2007); Member of the Finnish Parliament (2003-2007 and 2009-); Chair of the Christian Democratic Group in the Finnish Parliament (2004-2007); Member of the Council on Ethics, Finnish National Lottery Veikkaus (2004-2008); Member of the Body of Delegates, Kaleva insurance company (2005-); Party Secretary, the Finnish Christian Democrats (2007-2009); Member of the Supervisory Board, Kemijoki Oy (Hydropower Company (2015-), Member of the Supervisory Board, Finnish State Railways (VR) (2008-2009); Councillor of the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities (2008-2012); Member of the Body of Delegates, Turku Cooperative Society (2008-2012); Town Councillor, Paimio (Finland) (2008-2012) and member of the Paimio Municipal Executive (2009); Councillor of the Regional Council of Southwest Finland (2009); Member of the European Parliament, EPP-group (2009-2014); Chairperson of the Finnish Christian Democratic Party (2015-)

Sports practised

Race walking

Sports career

World Championships, 10 km: 19th, Rome (Italy) (1987); 3rd Tokyo (Japan) (1991); 1st, Stuttgart (Germany) (1993); 4th, Gothenburg (Sweden), (1995); Universiade: 5,000m, 3rd, Duisburg (Germany) (1989); 10km, 1st, Sheffield (Great Britain) (1991); European Championships, 10 km: 5th, Split (Croatia) (1990), 1st, Helsinki (Finland) (1994); World Race Walking Cup, 10 km: 16th, San Jose (United States of America) (1991); 2nd, Monterrey (Mexico) (1993); 12th, Beijing (People’s Republic of China) (1995); Olympic Games, 10km: 4th, Barcelona (Spain) (1992); 16th, Atlanta (United States of America) (1996)

Sports administration

Board member, Finnish Athletics Association (1997-1999); Member, IAAF Race Walking Committee (1998-2015); Member, Economic and Marketing Committee and Race Walking Committee, Finnish Athletics Association (1998-2009); Member of the Ethics Committee, Finnish Association for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities (2004-); Chair, sports development aid NGO Liike (2007-2009); Board member, Athletics Support Foundation (2007-); Member of the Ethics Committee, Finnish Athletics Association (2014-)

Awards and distinctions

Finnish Sportswoman of the Year (1993 and 1994); Alumnus of the year 2004, University of Vaasa; Member of the Honorary Board, Helsinki World Championships Games (2005); Honorary Medal of the Finnish Sport Culture (2009)

IOC History

Member of the following Commissions: Sustainability and Legacy (2016-), Digital and Technology (2017-), Olympic Solidarity (2017-)

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.