Mrs Eeva Ahtisaari

Curriculum vitae

  Mrs Eeva Ahtisaari was born in Varkaus, eastern Finland, on June 18 1936.

Eeva Ahtisaari matriculated from the Girls' Lyceum, Kuopio, after which she started her studies in history at the University of Helsinki. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1962.

In 1961-62 and 1964-66 Eeva Ahtisaari was employed by two university summer schools, first in Kuopio and then in Lapland. During the1960s she also worked in three different Finnish schools as a locum secondary school teacher of history.In the intervening period (1962-64) she worked as a trainee for the Helsinki University Library.

She married Martti Ahtisaari in 1968 and gave birth to their son, Marko, in 1969. Eeva Ahtisaari was employed by the City of Espoo at the end of the 1960s, where she was curator of an open-air museum. She also arranged and planned exhibitions in the Glims homestead museum. In this work Mrs Ahtisaari emphasized the importance of preserving old architecture and restoring old buildings in the local community at a time when rapid and dramatic changes were being demanded by modern planners and builders. In 1972 she was awarded a scholarship which enabled her to study museums and museum education in the United Kingdom.

Eeva Ahtisaari's work in Espoo came to an end in 1973, when her husband was appointed ambassador of Finland to the United Republic of Tanzania. Later in the 1970s Mr Ahtisaari served as United Nations Comissioner for Namibia (1977-81). In 1987 Secretary General Javier Perez de Cueillar appointed Mr Ahtisaari under-secretary general for administration and management. He retained his function as special representative of the Secretary General in Windhoek, Namibia and went on to lead the UN Operation (UNTAG) in Namibia in 1989-90.

During the years in Namibia Mrs Ahtisaari became deeply involved in local women's political and social issues. She played a central role in improving relations between conflicting women's groups in Namibia and her activities were of great importance when the women's organisations were reshaped in independent Namibia. Eeva Ahtisaari was awarded Honorary Citizenship of Namibia for her contribution to the independence process. She has given many speeches in Namibia and later in Finland on issues such as social welfare, the role of the family and women's history.

At the end of the 1980s Mrs Ahtisaari resumed her studies at the University of Helsinki, obtaining a Master of Arts degree in history in 1989. These studies were of great importance to her and at the same time her interest in women's studies also increased. Her master's thesis dealt with one of the first Finnish female politicians at the turn of the century, Hilda Käkikoski, who was a feminist of her time and a member of the first elected parliament in 1907.

Mrs Ahtisaari became interested in oral history at the beginning of the 1990s. From 1990 to 1993 she was one of the historians involved in an extensive project financed by the Finnish Parliament. The main aim of the project is to collect and present the experiences of former members of parliament in Finland.

As the wife of the President of Finland Mrs Ahtisaari is today still firmly engaged in academic issues and women studies. With her background as a historian, matters such as cultural heritage, family welfare and women's changing position in society are of great importance to her. Chamber music, and literature form an important part of Mrs Ahtisaari's life, both in private and in public.

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