Happy birthday to Jóhanna
Sigurðardóttir, who was born on this day in 1942 and who became the very first
lesbian head of government in 2009 when she was elected as the Prime Minister
After serving out a single term as Prime Minister of Iceland,
announced that she would not seek re-election and retired from politics once her term was out in 2013 (x).
Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir was born on
October 3, 1942 in Reykjavík, Iceland. She was born into a middle class family
and grew up to study at a state-run vocational high school called the
Commercial College of Iceland. After graduating in 1960, she became a flight
attendant with the airline Loftleiðir. Over the years, she became heavily
interested in the trade union movement and eventually became a member of the
Board of the Icelandic Cabin Crew Association, the Board of Svölurnar, and the Board of the Commercial
Workers’ Union. It was her work in the labor movement that lead to her start in
politics, and in 1978, Jóhanna was elected to parliament as a member of the
Social Democratic Party.
In addition to serving in the parliament,
Jóhanna was also elected vice-chairman of the Social Democratic Party in 1984
and served as Minister of Social Affairs in 1987. In 2009, Iceland’s financial
crisis resulted in the formation of a new government and due to Jóhanna’s high
popularity with the people and her strong ties with the Social Democratic
Alliance and the Left-Green Movement, she was voted in as the new government’s Prime Minister. This move changed the course of history, as Iceland became the first nation to ever have an openly lesbian head of government. She remained
Prime Minister until 2013 and today is remembered for having lead the nation
out of its financial crisis and for also having outlawing strip clubs across the nation, which resulted in many hailing Iceland as “the most feminist country
in the world.”
Jóhanna and her wife Jónína photographed with their seventh grandchild (x).
Jóhanna was married to a man named
Steinar Jóhannesson in 1970 and the two had two sons before divorcing in 1987.
After the divorce, she came out as a lesbian and entered into a civil union
with her wife Jónína Leósdóttir, who is a well-known writer. Jóhanna and Jónína
became one of the first same gender couples to be legally wed in Iceland after it was
legalized in the nation in 2010.