Announcing the prize in Brussels, Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila described Merkel as a defender of human dignity and human rights. Sipila praised Merkel's commitment to women and girls globally.
"Equality is a core value for Finland, which is celebrating 100 years of independence," Sipila said. He noted that Finland was the first nation in the world to grant women full political rights in 1906.
"Through this prize, we want to strengthen appreciation for gender equality in other countries around the world too," Sipila said. "Chancellor Merkel has become one of the world's most influential people and is an example to many women and girls," Sipila noted.
The Finnish prize committee said in an announcement that Merkel has brought gender equality to the agenda of world leaders at summit meetings. She has worked to improve the rights and opportunities of women especially in developing countries.
"In Germany, her aim is to achieve genuine equality in society between men and women, which means for instance making it easier to reconcile work and family life," the committee said.
The prize sum is 150,000 euros. The recipient will decide the cause it would be spent on. The cause chosen by Merkel will be announced in Tampere, central Finland at a high-level seminar on gender equality in early 2018.