President Tarja Halonen was the 11th President of the Republic of Finland and the country's first female head of state. She acceded office on 1 of March 2000, and was re-elected in 2006.
President Halonen graduated from the University of Helsinki in 1968 with a Master of Laws degree. Her career started in the national Union of Finnish Students, where she worked as the Social Affairs Secretary in 1969-70. She then worked as a lawyer in the Central Organization of Finnish Trade Unions in 1970 and held this position throughout her political career.
Having joined the Social Democratic party in 1971, President Halonen was appointed parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister in 1974. She was elected to the Parliament for the first time in 1979, and then re-elected four times before assuming the office of the Presidency. In Parliament, she served as Chair of the Social Affairs Committee in 1984-1987, Deputy-Chair of the Legal Affairs Committee in 1991-1995 and Chair of the Grand Committee in 1995. She has also served five terms in the Helsinki City Council.
She has served in three cabinets and her appointments include: Minister at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in 1987-1990, Minister of Justice in 1990-1991, and Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1995-2000, during which time, Finland held its first EU Presidency in 1999. She was also Minister responsible for Nordic co-operation from 1989 to 1991.
President Halonen has played an active role at the Council of Europe, first as Deputy-Chair of the Finnish Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly from 1991 to 1995, and later in the Ministerial Committee. During her presidency, she has served as co-chair of World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalisation, appointed by International Labour Organization ILO, from 2002 to 2004. Since March 2009, she has served as the Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders.
Over the years, President Halonen paid close attention to issues of human rights, democracy and civil society. Issues concerning social justice and promotion of equality have been central themes throughout her career.
Please click here to view President Halonen's video message at the Panel's Report Launch in Addis Ababa on 30 January 2012.
President Halonen received the Sustainable Development Leadership Award at DSDS 2012. To view the webcast of the DSDS inaugural session and President Halonen's award acceptance speech, please click here: [High Resolution Video] [Low Resolution Video]