Tarja Halonen was Finland’s first female president 2000-2012. She acceded office on 1 March 2000, and was re-elected in 2006. Halonen has paid close attention to the issues of human rights, democracy, civil society and gender equality. Issues concerning social justice and the promotion of equality have also been central themes throughout her political career.
Tarja Halonen started as a lawyer in the Central Organization of Finnish Trade Unions in 1970. Her political career began in 1974 when she was appointed parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister. She was elected to the Parliament for the first time in 1979, and after that she was re-elected four times, until she assumed the office of the President of Finland.
She has served in three cabinets and her ministerial appointments have been: Minister at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in 1987–90, Minister of Justice in 1990–91, and Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1995–2000. She was also Minister responsible for Nordic co-operation in 1989–91.
After presidential term Tarja Halonen has continued her work as a member of many organizations and networks in Finland and abroad. She has particularly close contacts with the UN. In 2006, she was mentioned by various commentators as a potential candidate for the UN´s Secretary-General selection, but she denied an interest at that time, stating that she wanted to finish her term as president before thinking about other career options. This year she was appointed to membership of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Advisory board on mediation.
Tarja Halonen is also a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an international network of current and former women presidents and prime ministers whose mission is to mobilize the highest-level women leaders globally for collective action on issues of critical importance to women and equitable development.
President Tarja Halonen