First girl on the planet elected president evaluates gender equality
- November 23, 2022
- No Comment
At 92, Vigdis Finnbogadottir continues to champion gender equality in Icelandic and world politics
Even at the age of 92, Vigdis Finnbogadottira first woman to be elected president of a country andn 1980s, in Iceland, it is still an active policy and continues to fight for the women’s rights🇧🇷
Finnbogadottir recently made an appearance at the Global Forum in Reykjavik, capital of Iceland – which discusses the female leadership around the world – and was celebrated by the current Prime Minister of the country, Katrin Jakobsdottir, and other high-ranking women in politics. The former president, in an interview, discussed topics such as women in leadership positions, women’s rights and the situation in Afghanistan.
When Finnbogadottir was elected to her country’s highest political office, she not only became the first woman in the world to be elected president, but it also ended up being the woman who stayed in that position the longest. She was the country’s president for 16 years, between 1980 and 1996, and many Icelandic women and girls have grown up with her as a role model, encouraging others to become involved in the country’s political life.
“I was eight when she [Vigdis Finnbogadottir] was elected,” said Helga Vala Helgadottir, an Icelandic politician and member of the country’s parliament. “She and other women have made us proud and strong as we grew up with this view that women can do the same things as men.”
Finnbogadottir was divorced and single mother when she became president, suffering, at the time, a lot of resistance, to which she responded shrewdly. She is also a breast cancer survivor and, after being asked how she was going to run the country with only one breast, she replied: “It was never my intention to breastfeed the nation.”
Iceland’s current prime minister said she built her career in politics by remembering one of the most famous quotes from the first female president: “The world is tough, but I am even tougher.”
John Shelley Collection/Avalon/Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth on an official visit to Iceland in 1990 with former President Vigdis Finnbogadottir
Finnbogadottir denounced the rights of women in Afghanistan during the forum discussion. Last March, the Taliban authority decided to ban the education of girls from the country after the sixth grade. The decision was, she said, a response to fear. “This clearly shows the insecurity of men in not granting rights to women out of fear of them”. She added that Afghan women should know that “the world has ambition for them”, but that she believes change in the country must come from within.
Paving the way for gender equality
Iceland is currently the most gender equal countryaccording to World Economic Forum🇧🇷 Despite not having a fully egalitarian parliament, the country does better than other nations in areas such as pay equity and labor market participation🇧🇷 Since Finnbogadottir stepped down as president, no other women have been elected to the position in the countrybut were elected two women as prime ministers – including current Katrin Jakobsdottir.
Bernard Annebicque/Sygma/Getty Images
Former President of Iceland Vigdis Finnbogadottir
“I don’t say we need to put ourselves on the map because we’re already on it,” said Finnbogadottir. “I am very proud of my country for standing up for equality.”
According to the latest gender inequality indices released by the Global Forum, the perception of women’s and men’s aptitude for leadership has fallen to levels below those measured when the report was launched in G7 countries in 2018.
The index also indicated that Iceland is the nation that believes most in the ambition of women for leadership, with a rate of 91%. According to the World Economic Forum, Finnbogadottir’s pioneering and long presence as a political figure contributed to narrowing social inequality in the country and increasing gender equality.
“I was representing both men and women,” said the former president. “Men sometimes forget that they are half woman. Half of their genes come from women.”
Many countries around the world have yet to elect a woman to the presidency – including the United States and France – but the first woman in the world to be chosen for the position believes that the women need to keep fighting🇧🇷 “Believe that you are doing the right thing,” he says. “Please believe that you are not inferior to a man, because that is only in the head – not in the body, but in the head and thoughts.”