Biography of President of Finland Tarja Halonen
Tarja Halonen is the 11th President of the Republic of Finland and the country's
first female Head of State. She acceded to office on 1 March 2000, and was re-elected
Ms Halonen was born in Helsinki on 24 December 1943. She graduated from
the University of Helsinki in 1968 with a Master of Laws degree. From 1970 and
throughout her political career (which began in 1974) she worked as a lawyer for
the Central Organization of Finnish Trade Unions.
Tarja Halonen joined the Social Democratic party in 1971, and in 1974 was
appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister. She was elected to
Parliament in 1979, and subsequently re-elected four times. In Parliament she
served as Chair of the Social Affairs Committee (1984-1987), Deputy-Chair of the
Legal Affairs Committee (1991-1995) and Chair of the Grand Committee (1995). In
parallel, Ms Halonen served five terms on the Helsinki City Council (1977-1996).
Tarja Halonen served as Minister of Social Affairs and Health (1987-1990),
Minister of Justice (1990-1991), Minister of Foreign Affairs (1995-2000) and
Minister responsible for Nordic cooperation (1989-1991). During her time as
Foreign Minister, Finland held for the first time the Presidency of the European
Union from July to December 1999.
Tarja Halonen has also played an active role at the Council of Europe, first as
Deputy-Chair of the Finnish Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly (1991-1995)
and later in the Ministerial Committee. She was also a member of the Council of
Europeâ€™s Committee of Wise Persons (1998-1999).
She has served as co-Chair of the
World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization (2002-2004) following
her appointment by the International Labour Organization (ILO). She has chaired
the Council of Women World Leaders since March 2009. And in August 2010, she was
appointed co-Chair of the UN Secretary-Generalâ€™s High-Level Panel on Global
Tarja Halonen has built her political career on promoting human rights, social
justice and equality. Under her presidency, Finland became the first country in
the world to make broadband access a legal right.