As part of our Worldette Heroine series we feature another inspirational woman and female leader who has impacted our world. This time we look at the world’s first openly gay head of government and a woman who uses her influence to fight for women’s equality, Johanna Siguroardóttir.
For a small European country, Iceland has had a few political breakthroughs, and it all started with their Prime Minister, Johanna Siguroardóttir.
Johanna Siguroardóttir was born in Reykjavik in 1942 and has been Iceland’s Prime Minister since February 2009. She is the world’s first openly lesbian head of government, and the first female Prime Minister of Iceland. When she took office, Iceland became the first country to change its government as the direct result of the global financial crisis. In the year 2009, she was listed as one of the World’s Most Powerful Women, according to Forbes magazine.
She first worked as a flight attendant and then as an office worker for what is today Icelandair. She then started to get very active in the trade union movement which brought her, in turn, to get into politics. She has served as Iceland’s Minister of Social Affairs and Social Security for two terms in four separate Cabinets from 1987 to 1994 and then again from 2007 to 2009.
Siguroardóttir is credited for the opening and widening of policies to help with housing projects for the poor people in Iceland, and also improved the social welfare system. She wants to push for debt relief for those who are most vulnerable. She has also been a member of the Althing, Iceland’s parliament, for the Reykjavik constituencies since 1978, and was reelected for eight consecutive times.
Siguroardóttir married a banker, Provaldur Steinar Jóhannesson in 1970, with whom she had two sons and now has six grandchildren. After their divorce in 1987, she established a civil partnership in 2002 with Jónína Leósdóttir, an author, playwright and journalist, and also a divorced mother.
Then in 2010, when same-sex marriage was legalized, Siguroardóttir and Leósdóttir exchanged their civil union into a marriage. Her relationship is rasies few eyebrows back home in Iceland, as it was one of the first countries, back in 1996, to approve of civil partnerships for gay and lesbian couples.
She is nicknamed “Saint Johanna” because of her work for the rights of the handicapped, the elderly and the disadvantaged. Just two years ago her government banned strip clubs and paying for nudity in restaurants. Siguroardóttir was quoted as saying, “The Nordic countries are leading the way on women’s equality, recognizing women as equal citizens rather than commodities for sale.”
Are there any other leading women you’d like us to feature as part of our Worldette Heroine series?. Let us know in the comments below.
Let us know in the comments below.