Estonia elects its first ever female prime minister, Kaja Kallas

Estonia elects its first female prime minister with both heads of state now historically women

Estonia

The Baltic nation of Estonia with less than 1.5 million people has become the first country in the world to have a female elected president and female elected Prime Minister. 

Kaja Kallas was sworn in on Monday afternoon as Prime Minister, making her the nation’s first woman in the role. Kallas’s centre-right party, The Reform Party, will form a new cabinet coalition with centre-left.

“We will again build our relations with our allies, our neighbours, and we will try to restore our name as a good country to invest in,” Kaja Kallas told Reuters in Tallinn, Estonia’s capital city on Tuesday, after taking her oath of office.

Kallas will head the government with 14 other ministers — half of them women. She has put several women in key positions, including Keit Pentus-Rosimannus as finance minister and the country’s ambassador to the Czech Republic, Eva-Maria Liimets, as foreign minister.

Signe Riisalo has been appointed the Minister of Social Protection, Maris Lauri is the Minister of Education and Research and Anneli Ott becomes the Minister of Public Administration. 

“The idea behind the composition of my government was to strike a balance between men and women and between experience and novelty,” Kallas said over the weekend. 

In 2016, Kersti Kaljulaid was elected by the country’s parliament making her the first woman to hold that position in the country. Her five-year term will end later this year, and she is yet to announced her future plans. 

On January 14, Kaljulaid nominated Kallas, 43, to lead a new coalition after former prime minister, Jüri Ratas, resigned due to his party’s suspected criminal involvement in a corruption case. 

A week after Kaljulaid’s nomination, the parliament confirmed Kallas and her cabinet’s nomination. The following day, January 26, the cabinet ministers took an oath of office before the parliament.

Kallas’ party won the general election in 2019, though the Centre Party went on to form a coalition with the far-right populist Estonian Conservative People’s Party and the centre-right Isamaa. Kallas joined the Reform Party in 2011 and was elected later that year to the Estonian parliament. In 2018, she became the party’s first female leader. 

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