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Tuesday, January 31, 2023
HomePoliticsRemembering Marita Petersen: Faroe had first female Prime Minister 30 years ago

Remembering Marita Petersen: Faroe had first female Prime Minister 30 years ago

Exactly 30 years ago, the Faroe Islands got its first female Prime Minister—Marita Petersen. Widely recognized as the island nation’s foremost female political leader still today, the late Mrs. Petersen took office on this day in 1993, succeeding Atli P. Dam as both Prime Minister and leader of Javnaðarflokkurin (Social Democrats).

Mrs. Petersen also became the first female Chair of the Løgting (Faroese Parliament) as well as the first female leader of Javnaðarflokkurin.

Trained as a teacher, Mrs. Petersen worked as such for a number of years and prior to becoming politically active served from 1980 to 1984 as Chair of Føroya Lærarafelag (Teachers’ Union of the Faroes).

Although three decades have passed since 1993, when an economic and financial crisis was sweeping the country, the Faroes have so far not had another female Prime Minister; and even until December 2022, no other woman held the position of Chair of the Løgting; Bjørt Samuelsen from Tjóðveldi (Republicans) now holds that position.

Mrs. Petersen remained in the Prime Minister’s office until 1994, when she became Chair of the Løgting, a position she held until 1995. She ran for parliament thrice and was elected every time, in 1988, 1990, 1994. She also ran thrice for the Folketing (Danish Parliament)—in 1988, 1994, 1998—however without becoming a member there.

By coincidence, the Folketing has recently decided to honor 30 outstanding female political leaders of the past 100 years by commissioning a painting with their portraits to be put on prominent display at the premises of the Folketing. According to news reports, the painting will include a portrait of Mrs. Petersen.

Apart from being the Faroe Islands’ first female Prime Minister, Mrs. Petersen was in fact also the first female Prime Minister in the entire Kingdom of Denmark (Denmark, Faroes, Greenland). The first female Prime Minister of Denmark itself was Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who took office in 2011, whereas Greenland got its first female Prime Minister two years later—Aleqa Hammond, who remained in office until 2014.

Mrs. Petersen was born on October 21st, 1940, in the town of Vágur on the island Suðuroy. She passed away from illness at the age of 60, on August 26th, 2001.

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