Iceland's First Female President

Magazine Iceland's First Female President

Madame President, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir

(pronounced Vig-dees Fin-boe-guh-doe-tier)

In the spring of 1930, in the city of Reykjavik, a baby girl was born who would give Iceland yet another unique claim. Her name was Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, and she would grow to be the world's first free and fairly elected woman to lead a democratic nation.

The daughter of a nurse and a civil engineer, Vigdís had an ideal upbringing. She was given a well-rounded education and studied at multiple universities throughout Europe, gaining degrees in French and drama. The early part of her career was spent as the director of the Reykjavík Theatre Company (Leikfélag Reykjavíkur), teaching French and hosting cultural programming on Icelandic State Television. She was married in 1954 for nine years after which she adopted her daughter Astriður.

On a sunny day in October 1975, the women of Iceland united and staged a protest that would change the direction of the small country forever.  The strike, now referred to as Women’s Day Off, inspired the nation to turn the corner on women’s rights.  Finnbogadóttir herself, attributes this monumental event to her election. Soon after, with the encouragement of her supporters, Finnbogadóttir ran for and narrowly won the presidential race, becoming not only Iceland's, but the world's first democratically elected female president. The election of a 50 year old, divorced, single working mother and her subsequent,  unprecedented 16 year incumbency, has given an entire generation of Icelanders the gift of gender blindness.

During her four terms as president, Vigdís chose to focus on the preservation of Icelandic culture and heritage and continuing her fight for equality and human rights. Now into her late 80’s, she is still a beloved icon and prominent figure strongly involved in philanthropic pursuits.

Iceland has long since been a leader in the world in terms of acceptance and tolerance. From Icelandair Hotels, offering comfortable hotel accommodations across the country, and now offering a new hotel in the south Iceland village of Vik. We hope you have enjoyed this short glimpse into the colorful history of Iceland!

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