Tarja Halonen was elected the 11th President of Finland from 2000 to 2012. She is Finland's first female head of state.
Tarja Halonen was born in Helsinki in 1943. She graduated from the University of Helsinki in 1968 and has a Master of Law degree. President Halonen became the first female lawyer with the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions in 1970-74, continuing in this position during her political career as a Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister.
Tarja Halonen joined the Social Democratic Party in 1971. Her political career began in 1974 when she was appointed parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister, a post she held until 1975. She was elected to Parliament in 1979 and held her seat in five consecutive elections until she assumed the office of the President of Finland. Tarja Halonen has served in three cabinets: Minister at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health from 1987 to 1990, Minister of Justice from 1990 to 1991, and Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1995 to 2000. She also served as the Minister responsible for Nordic co-operation from 1989 to 1991.
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 from 1991 to 1995 and later in the Ministerial Committee. She was also a Member of the Committee of Wise Persons of the Council of Europe from 1998 to 1999.
During her presidency Tarja Halonen served as the co-chair of World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalisation, appointed by International Labour Organization ILO (2002-2004). From 2009 to 2014 she served as the Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders. In 2010, Halonen was appointed cochair of the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Global Sustainability. In 2017 she was appointed to membership of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Advisory board on mediation and is currently the co-chair of the High Level Task Force for International Conference on Population and Development.
Tarja Halonen speaks Finnish, Swedish, and English, and is studying Estonian.