With the appointment yesterday of a female prime minister, Finland became the first European country to have women heading both the prime ministry and presidency. President Tarja Halonen lauded Anneli Jaatteenmaki’s selection saying, “Finnish men can be proud that they have courageously sided with equality… I believe this will be good for Finland’s reputation, both for Finnish women and Finnish men,” reported the BBC. Last month, Jaatteenmaki’s Center Party edged out the Social Democrats and the Swedish People’s Party among others, emerging as the dominant political party in Parliament, according to the Associated Press. Jaatteenmaki has said half her cabinet (The Center Party, Social Democrats, and the Swedish People’s Party will hold eight, eight, and two cabinet seats, respectively) will be women, according to the BBC.
In 1906, Finland was the first European country to give women voting rights. Currently, women comprise nearly 40 percent of its 200-member Parliament.