Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir: Prime Minister, Iceland, 2009-2013
Johanna Siguðardóttir is the former Prime Minister of Iceland. A MP since 1978, she was previously Iceland's Minister of Social Affairs and Social Security from 1987–1994 and 2007–2009. She has been a member of the Althing (Iceland's parliament) for Reykjavík constituencies since 1978, winning re-election on eight successive occasions. She became Iceland's first female Prime Minister and the world's first openly lesbian head of government on February 1, 2009. Siguðardóttir is a social democrat and until her retirement in 2012, she was Iceland's longest-serving member of Parliament. She enjoyed early success in her parliamentary career, serving as Deputy Speaker of the Althing in 1979 and from 1983 to 1984. She was elected Vice-Chairman of the Social Democratic Party in 1984, a post she held until 1993. She served as Minister of Social Affairs in four separate Cabinets from 1987 to 1994, when she left the Social Democratic Party to form a new party, National Awakening; the two parties remerged in 2000 to form the present Social Democratic Alliance. From 1994 to 2003, she was an active member of the opposition in the Althing, serving on numerous parliamentary committees. After the 2003 elections, in which she stood in the Reykjavík South constituency (after the split of the old Reykjavík constituency), she was re-elected Deputy Speaker of the Althing. The 2007 elections, in which she stood in the Reykjavík North constituency, saw the return of the Social Democratic Alliance to government in coalition with the Independence Party, and Siguðardóttir was named Minister of Social Affairs and Social Security. Siguðardóttir was proposed as Prime Minister for the new government, among other things because of her popularity among the general public; an opinion poll by Capacent Gallup in December 2008 found 73% approval of her actions as a minister, more than any other member of the Cabinet. She was also the only minister to have improved her approval ratings over 2008. Siguðardóttir is known as the party leader that increased women’s equality and paved the way for Nordic countries to take the lead in recognizing women as equal citizens.