Micheline Calmy-Rey was born in Sion in Canton Valais on 8 July 1945. In 1968, she graduated from the Institut universitaire de Hautes Etudes Internationales in Geneva. Married and with two children, she ran a small book distribution company for the next 20 years.
Micheline Calmy-Rey joined the Geneva Socialist party in 1979 and was its president for two periods. She was a deputy in the Geneva Grand Council. In 1998, she became a member of the Geneva government and took over the finance department.
Micheline Calmy-Rey was elected to the Federal Council on 4 December 2002. From 1 January 2003 to 31 December 2011, she was head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. Micheline Calmy-Rey was president of the Swiss Confederation in 2007 and in 2011.