Former President of the Republic of Finland (2000 – 2012).
H.E. Ms. Tarja Halonen was the 11th President of the Republic of Finland and Finland's first female head of state. She acceded office on 1 March 2000, and was re-elected in 2006. She graduated from the University of Helsinki in 1968 and has a Master of Law degree.
Her professional career started in the national Union of Finnish Students, where she worked as the Social Affairs Secretary in 1969–70. She started as a lawyer in the Central Organization of Finnish Trade Unions in 1970 and held this position throughout her political career. 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. She was elected to the Parliament for the first time in 1979, and after that she was re-elected five times, until she assumed the office of the President of Finland. In the Parliament she served as Chair of the Social Affairs Committee in 1984–87, Deputy-Chair of the Legal Affairs Committee in 1991–95, and Chair of the Grand Committee in 1995. A central part of Tarja Halonen's political activity has been her five terms in the Helsinki City Council in 1977–96.
She has served in three cabinets and her appointments have been: Minister at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in 1987–90, Minister of Justice in 1990–91, and Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1995–2000. She was also Minister responsible for Nordic co-operation in 1989–91. During her time as Foreign Minister, Finland held for the first time the EU Presidency from July to December in 1999. 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 in 1998–99.
President Halonen has held and holds various national and international honorary positions. She was, among others, Co-Chair of ILO's World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization (2002-2004) and Co-Chair of the UN High-level Panel on Global Sustainability (2010-2012), Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders (2009-2014) and Co-Chair of the High-Level Task Force for ICPD (2012-2016). She is currently a Co-Chair of WHO and OHCHR High-Level Working Group on Human Rights and Health (2016-), an alternate Co-Chair of the Steering Committee for Every Woman Every Child and the Global Strategy for Women's, Children's and Adolecents' Health (2016-), member of the Board of Directors of the Thomson Reuters Founders Share Company (2016-), Member of the Leadership Council of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (2014-) and Member of the Board of Trustees of the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights (2009-). In 2013, she was designated as Drylands Ambassador of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification and in 2015 as UN Global Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction. President Halonen served as the Angelopoulos Global Public Leaders Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University during spring 2015.
President Halonen holds 17 honorary degrees from universities, including from her alma mater Helsinki University.
Tarja Halonen has paid close attention to issues of sustainable development, human rights, gender equality, social justice, democracy and civil society throughout her political career.