H.E. Tarja Halonen is the former President of the Republic of Finland. Prior to her presidency, she served as Cabinet Minister and Member of Parliament.
Prior to her presidency, President Halonen was a trade union lawyer and worked with the Central Organization of Finnish Trade Unions from 1970 to 1979; she also served as a Member of Parliament for 21 years. President Halonen has also served as Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister of Justice and Minister at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. Over the years she also served as Chair of the Parliamentary Grand Committee, Vice-Chair of the Parliamentary Law Committee, Chair of the Parliamentary Social Affairs Committee and was a longstanding member of the Helsinki City Council.
President Halonen is known for her political commitment to human rights, gender equality and social justice and her knowledge of trade unions. She was also a strong advocate early on in her career for sexual rights and sexuality education. To these ends, she serves and has served in various capacities. She was Co-Chair of the Millennium Summit, the ILO’s World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization, Co-Chair of the United Nations High-level Panel on Global Sustainability, Co-Chair of the Panel of Eminent Persons of UNCTAD (the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) and Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders.
She is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights. 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. She became member of the Leadership Council of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network in 2014 and a member of the board of Thomas Reuters Founders Share Company in 2016. In 2016, she was also appointed alternate co-chair to the High-Level Advisory Group for Every Woman Every Child, the UN Secretary General’s initiative to promote the health of women, children and adolescents.
She has been a longstanding member of the Board of Trustees of the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights and the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health. In Finland, President Halonen was Chair and member of the Board of Directors of the International Solidarity Foundation. She is currently serving as the Chair of the board of trustees of WWF Finland and the Finnish National Gallery.
President Halonen holds 17 honorary degrees from universities, including from her alma mater Helsinki University, where she earned a Master of Laws.