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President Tarja Halonen met with Valentina Matviyenko, the chair of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation, in Helsinki in December 2013. Matviyenko is considered as one of the highest-ranking female politicians in Russia. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Finland’s first female president, Tarja Halonen, who was elected in 2000 and served until 2012, spoke about women’s rights in a recent interview with Democracy Now!, an independent American radio news program. Halonen was asked about her thoughts on US President Donald Trump and the importance of women being in positions of power.

Halonen said that she has never met President Trump but has only heard of him through the media and his tweets. “But I always say that when my friends in U.S.A. say that Trump won, that, yeah, yeah, won, because you have a funny system, because Hillary Clinton got the most of the votes. In our country, she would win,” Halonen said. “I think so that when now the women have been empowered in many countries, and so it’s as though that women have been taken seriously now.”

When Halonen worked in the Foreign Ministry some 20 years ago she said that when they “got more and more women ambassadors” Halonen always said to the men, “Just don’t worry. Smart men will survive.”

According to Halonen, since then, the competition between the genders has become harder. “Because it’s more equal possibilities for boys and girls, men and women. And we have to continue in that way.”