Finland's Foreign Ministry on Monday recognized Chizuko Ueno, a sociologist known as a pioneer in feminism and gender research, for career achievement in advancing gender equality in Japan.

As a leading country in gender equality, the recognition of Ueno is part of Finland's broader campaign this year "to bring questions of equality to the fore of the international conversation," the ministry said in a release.

Finland's first female president, Tarja Halonen, presented the recognition to Ueno at a ceremony at the Finnish Embassy in Tokyo.

In her acceptance speech delivered in English, Ueno said that despite Japan ranking third in global gross domestic product, its gender equality ranking is getting lower.

"This does not mean Japanese women did not struggle for gender equality. To the contrary, we did try hard to promote women's status but we still have a long way to go," she said.

Ueno also serves as chief director of the Women's Action Network, a nonprofit organization that seeks to support women by providing resources and connections for feminist action.

In April, her congratulatory address at the entrance ceremony of the University of Tokyo attracted widespread attention as she highlighted gender discrimination still existing within the university as well as the broader Japanese society.