HerStory 2021: Vigdís Finnbogadóttir

Vigdís Finnbogadóttir (1930-), our first HerStory recipient of 2021, was a born leader. She was the first democratically-elected female head of state in the world, and remains, to this day, the longest-serving female head of state (she was President of Iceland for 19 years). 

Finnbogadóttir was born into wealth and privilege, and thus had a young life full of education and opportunity. She was a public figure before going into politics, teaching French and Icelandic culture on the state television station in the late 1970s. When she decided to run for president in 1980, her status as both a woman AND a divorced single mother weren’t enough to detract from her charisma, personality, and talent, and she was elected over 3 men.  

In no small part because of Finnbogadóttir’s work and standing in the world, Iceland is now considered by most to be the world leader in gender equality. In recent years, Iceland has passed laws to ensure gender balance on boards and to secure paid paternity leave. Almost half of all political candidates in any given election are women, and universal early childhood education is a nationwide priority. In 2013, a law was passed that required companies to ensure that a minimum of 40% of their boards are women. All of these laws and policies are created to make the world more equitable, and offer more women, from all backgrounds, the opportunities to achieve success. 

In Iceland, there is a concept called “fyrirmynd“. It’s kind of like a role model, but more: the term encapsulates the concept of being an example to others to live one’s life with authenticity and strive to do what’s right and good, not only for one’s own self, but for one’s community as well. Our Lava colorway is inspired by the beautiful lava fields one can explore in Iceland, and by our first HerStory recipient Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, the Mother of Iceland. Her cool head and fire within as she broke through that glass ceiling and paved the way for so much goodness, all while typifying that fyrirmynd.