Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, the fourth President of the Republic of Iceland, was the first woman in the world to be elected democratically as Head of State. She studied literature and theatre in Paris and in Copenhagen. Prior to becoming President she was the Artistic Director of the Reykjavík Theatre Company (Leikfélag Reykjavíkur), later the City Theatre (1972-1980).
Being an advocate for human rights, she is an honorary member of the Women’s Rights Association in Iceland, one of the founders of the Save the Children Association in Iceland, and the first Chair of UNESCO’s World Commission on Ethics in Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST), 1997-2001.
Mrs. Finnbogadóttir has been an ardent advocate for multilingualism and the safeguarding of languages and linguistic diversity. In 1998 she was nominated UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Languages. In 2001, the University of Iceland established a research institute for foreign languages in her name, the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute of Foreign Languages. In 2008, she was nominated World Theatre Ambassador by the International Theatre Institute.
Mrs. Finnbogadóttir was awarded honorary doctorates from at least 15 universities in the world.