» The international Vigdís prize gets awarded for the first time
17.06.2020 - Honorary and Goodwill Ambassadors

The international Vigdís prize gets awarded for the first time

On 27 May 2020 the first ever Vigdís Prize was awarded to a Faroese linguist. This international prestigious prize is named after Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, former president of Iceland and a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Languages

On the occasion of Vigdís Finnbogadóttir’s 90th birthday and 40th anniversary since her historical election as the President of Iceland, Icelandic Government, the University of Iceland and the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute have decided to award the Vigdís Prize for achievement in the field of languages and culture, awarded annually to an individual who has done groundbreaking work in the field of culture and languages.

About this new award, Lilja Dôgg Alfredsdôttir, Iceland’s Minister of Education, Science and Culture, stressed that “Our aim is to honour and highlight Vigdís’ extraordinary contributions to languages and culture, which as everyone in Iceland knows are her particular passion”.

This year, the first ever prize was awarded to Faroese linguist, teacher and publisher Johnhard Mikkelsen, in recognition of his contribution to strengthening and developing the Faroese language in the Faroe islands and abroad. According to him, “Finnbogadóttir has like no other leader turned the spotlight on small language groups. These languages may only be spoken by a few people but, as Finnbogadóttir does not tire to point out, they still encompass a whole world.” He added that “language holds the potential for understanding one another, tearing down unnecessary walls that divide people”. 

Vigdís Finnbogadóttir became the world’s first woman elected by direct universal suffrage to head a state in 1980. Since 1999, she has been a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Languages and in 2017 she inaugurated the Vigdís International Centre for multilingualism and Intercultural Understanding, under the auspices of UNESCO.

Watch the video of the award here

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