Council of Women World Leaders Announce Incoming Chair, President Tarja Halonen of Finland

March 4, 2009

For Immediate Release
Contact: Alina Lavinia Dumitrasc
Council of Women World Leaders
Tel. 202-736-2920 

Council of Women World Leaders Announce Incoming Chair, President Tarja Halonen of Finland

Washington, DC, March 4, 2009 –– The Council of Women World Leaders at the Aspen Institute announced that at the upcoming International Colloquium on Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security on March 7-8, 2009, in Monrovia, Liberia, Finnish President Tarja Halonen will become the new Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders. The transition of power from the Honorable Mary T. Robinson, President of Ireland (1990-1997), and current Council Chair, will formally take place in Monrovia.

“I am happy and honored to accept the nomination as Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders. I truly believe in the Council’s mission of advancing gender equality and promoting women in leadership positions and look forward to continuing the tradition of excellence set by President Robinson over the past five years,” commented Halonen on her new role.

President Mary Robinson served as Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders for the past five years and under her leadership, recruited eight new members including President Michelle Bachelet of Chile, President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, Prime Minister Luisa Dias Diogo of Mozambique, Prime Minister Emily Saïdy de Jongh-Elhage of the Netherlands Antilles, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko of Ukraine.

Under Robinson, the Council grew exponentially, moving its headquarters from Harvard University Kennedy School of Government to the Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C. in 2004. President Robinson catalyzed the birth of the Madeleine K. Albright Women’s Voices at the Aspen Institute Series. Since its inception, this series of high-level events has hosted over twenty programs featuring high-profile speakers such as European Commission Vice President Margot Wallstrom and Mrs. Cherie Blair.

“As Council Chair since 2003, I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with the dedicated and committed Council staff, as well as with the founders, President Vigdis Finnbogadóttir and Laura Liswood. I have witnessed the Council’s growth and transition from the Kennedy School of Government to the Aspen Institute, and could not be more proud of our mission and accomplishments as a team,” notes Robinson on her years as Chair.

Incoming Chair Halonen will provide the vision for Council activities including the continuance of the Madeleine K. Albright Women’s Voices at the Aspen Institute Series, the recruitment and development of partnerships with other organizations, the growth of the international fellowship program, and the expansion of the Council’s ministerial networks. President Halonen will represent the Council at international events where appropriate.

President Halonen was inaugurated in 2000 as President of the Republic of Finland. She has had extensive experience in high-level public positions including chair of the Finnish National Organization for Sexual Equality, member of the Helsinki City Council from 1977 to 1996, and Parliament member of the SDP. Before her appointment as foreign affairs minister from 1995 to 2000, she served as minister of social affairs and health from 1987 to 1990, minister for the Nordic cooperation from 1989 to 1991, and minister of justice from 1990 to 1991.

President Robinson is currently the President of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, and served as the United Nation High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997 to 2002 and as President of Ireland from 1990 to 1997. In addition to these public roles, Robinson is dedicated to furthering the goals and missions of social justice organizations such as Oxfam and the Fund for Global Human Rights.

The International Colloquium is being co-convened by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Finnish President Halonen in Monrovia on March 7-8, 2009, to coincide with the announcement of Halonen as Chair. The Colloquium’s mission is to empower women to be more effective leaders by linking with their peers from around the world and sharing and implementing best practices on economic empowerment, influencing climate change, and sustainable development.

For more information, please visit or contact Alina Dumitrasc at

The Council of Women World Leaders is a network of current and former women presidents and prime ministers established in 1996 by Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, President of Iceland (1980-1996), and Laura Liswood, the Council’s Secretary General. The Council’s mission is to mobilize the highest-level women leaders globally for collective action on issues of critical importance to women.

The Aspen Institute mission is twofold: to foster values-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues. The Aspen Institute does this primarily in four ways: seminars, young-leader fellowships around the globe, policy programs and public conferences and events. The Institute is based in Washington, DC, Aspen, Colorado, and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and has an international network of partners.

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