Tarja Halonen

Born 24.12.1943 in Helsinki
Married, one adult child

Curriculum Vitae

Political Career

Tarja Halonen was the 11th President of the Republic of Finland 2000-2012 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 four 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 ministerial 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.

International Duties

During her presidency, Tarja Halonen served as co-chair of World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization, appointed by International Labour Organization ILO, from 2002 to 2004. From March 2009 until September 2014, she served as the Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders. In August 2010, Tarja Halonen was appointed co-chair of the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Global Sustainability. She was the co-chair of the High Level Task Force for ICPD 2012–16.

After presidential term Tarja Halonen has continued her work as a member of many organizations and networks in Finland and abroad. She has particularly close contacts with the UN and she also works with the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.


Tarja Halonen has paid close attention to the issues of human rights, democracy, civil society and gender equality. Issues concerning social justice and the promotion of equality have also been central themes throughout her political career.

The TH Global Sustainability Foundation was established in 2012 to promote the work of President Halonen in the field of Sustainable Development. The Foundation published in 2014 a report called “Challenges to Global Sustainability”, which sums up the key substance of a seminar held in December 2013 titled “Challenges to Sustainable Development: Global Approaches and Practical Work in the Baltic Sea Region”.

Tarja Halonen is married to doctor Pentti Arajärvi. She is interested in theatre and she has held several honorary positions in this sphere. Her other interests include the history of arts, and painting and drawing are among her hobbies. She has also been closely involved in rhythmic competition gymnastics and exercises regularly.