|Order:||4th President of Iceland|
|Term Start:||1 August 1980|
|Term End:||1 August 1996|
|Successor:||Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson|
|Birth Date:||15 April 1930 Reykjavík, Iceland|
|Alma Mater:||University of Paris|
University of Grenoble
University of Copenhagen
University of Iceland
|Profession:||teacher, theater director, cultural figure|
Vigdís Finnbogadóttir () (born 15 April 1930) was the fourth president of Iceland, serving from 1980 to 1996. She was the world's first elected female president (not including prime ministers, who are heads of government, women who held the position of chairman, or non-elected leaders). She was Iceland's first and so far only female president and head of state. Currently, she is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, and a Member of the Club of Madrid.
Vigdís Finnbogadóttir was born in Reykjavík on April 15, 1930. Her father was a civil engineer, as well as a professor at the University of Iceland. Her mother was a nurse and the chairperson of the Icelandic Nurses Association. After passing her matriculation exam in 1949, Vigdís studied French and French literature at the University of Grenoble and the Sorbonne in Paris from 1949-1953, history of theater at the University of Copenhagen, and acquired a BA in French and English, as well as PGCE, at the University of Iceland.
She participated in the 1960s and 1970s in numerous rallies held to protest the U.S. military presence in Iceland (and in particular at Keflavík). Every year hundreds, sometimes thousands, walked the 50 km road to Keflavík and chanted "Ísland úr NATO, herinn burt" (literally: Iceland out of NATO, the military away).
Vigdís Finnbogadóttir worked with the Reykjavík Theatre Company 1954-1957 and again 1961-64. During the summers she also worked as a tour guide. Vigdís taught French at Menntaskólinn í Reykjavík 1962-1967 and at Menntaskólinn við Hamrahlíð 1967-1972. She also taught for a while at University of Iceland, as well as holding French courses on RÚV, the Icelandic state television.
She was the Artistic Director of the Reykjavík Theatre Company (Leikfélag Reykjavíkur), later the City Theatre 1972-1980. From 1976 to 1980 she was a member of the Advisory Committee on Cultural Affairs in the Nordic countries
In 1996 she became founding chair of the Council of Women World Leaders at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Two years later she was appointed president of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology.
In 1980 she was the first woman in the world to be elected the head of state in a democratic election, despite being a divorced single mother (she adopted a daughter in 1972), Vigdis was drafted as a candidate for the presidency of Iceland; she was narrowly elected, with 33.6 percent of the national vote, over three male opponents. (Under Icelandic naming conventions, she is referred to by her given name rather than by her patronymic—the patronymic is not a family name.) She was subsequently reelected three times, uncontested in 1984 and 1992, but with about 95% of the votes cast in 1988. She retired in 1996. Although the Icelandic presidency is largely a ceremonial position, she took an active role in promoting the country as a cultural ambassador and enjoyed great popularity.
She has received honorary degrees from the following Universities:
In Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising, her name appears differently as one of the main characters. This person's name is Vigdis Agustdottir.