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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 April, 2003, 11:42 GMT 12:42 UK
Finnish female duo in top jobs
Anneli Jaeaetteenmaeki
Jaeaetteenmaeki heads a three-party coalition
Finland's first female prime minister has been voted into office by the country's parliament.

Anneli Jaeaetteenmaeki will head a coalition of her own Centre Party, the Social Democrats and the Swedish People's Party.

Her appointment means Finland becomes the only country in Europe to have women as both prime minister and president.

Ms Jaeaetteenmaeki also said she wants half her cabinet ministers to be women.

Finnish men can be proud that they have courageously sided with equality
President Tarja Halonen
Ms Jaeaetteenmaeki led her opposition Centre Party to a narrow election victory in March.

The party took 55 seats, just two more than the Social Democrats.

The three parties have an absolute majority in parliament - holding 116 of the 200 seats.

In the cabinet, the Centre Party and Social Democrats will each hold eight cabinet posts, and the People's Party two.

Their coalition deal was sealed on Monday.

President Tarja Halonen with Anneli Jaeaetteenmaeki
The president is now joined by a female prime minister
President Tarja Halonen, elected two years ago, welcomed Ms Jaeaetteenmaeki's selection.

"Finnish men can be proud that they have courageously sided with equality," she said.

"I believe this will be good for Finland's reputation, both for Finnish women and Finnish men."

The appointment of Ms Jaeaetteenmaeki cements Finland's reputation as a country which nurtures women's political contributions.

In 1906 it became the first country in Europe to give women the vote. Women have previous held senior posts including defence minister, national bank governor, speaker of parliament

The new parliament has 75 female members - 37.5% of the total.


SEE ALSO:
Opposition wins Finnish poll
17 Mar 03  |  Europe
Country profile: Finland
26 Sep 02  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Finland
06 Mar 03  |  Country profiles


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