Tarja Halonen was elected as the President of Finland in 2000, and is the nation’s first female head of state. Her political achievements in supporting gender equality, equal treatment and Nordic cooperation, are also core academic and research areas at the Faculty of Arts. Tarja Halonen has also been the chairperson of a national organization for LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) people. In the early 1980s, she was chairperson of SETA, the main LGBT rights organization in Finland. As a politician, she has pursued issues of equality between women and men. With this strong background, it was logical that she has recently taken over the prestigious chair of the International Council of Women World Leaders.
Furthermore, during her presidency, Tarja Halonen has been active in promoting the advancement of the Swedish language in Finland. She frequently emphasizes the close kinship between the two countries, which is particularly evident in the commemoration of the year 1809, the joint Finnish-Swedish government project marking the bicentennial of the division of Finland and Sweden.
“It is very joyful that Tarja Halonen has been named an honorary doctor at Umeå University, and especially during this noteworthy year,” says Britta Lundgren, Dean of the Faculty of Arts.
Tarja Halonen was born in Helsinki, Finland in 1943. She graduated from the University of Helsinki in 1968 with a master’s degree in law and began her political career in 1974. She was elected to the Parliament in 1979, where she among other things was chairperson of the Social Affairs Committee in 1984 ¬ 1987, and the Grand Committee in 1995. Halonen has been 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. She was also Minister responsible for Nordic co-operation in 1989 – 1991. During her presidency Tarja Halonen has served as co-chair of World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalisation, appointed by International Labour Organization, ILO, from 2002 to 2004.