Bruntland, Gro Harlem (1939—)

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Bruntland, Gro Harlem (1939—)

Norwegian politician and first woman prime minister of Norway. Name variations: Bruddland, Brundtland. Born in Oslo, Norway, in 1939; attended university in Oslo and Harvard University; married Arne Olav, 1960; children: four.

A physician with a particular interest in public health, Gro Harlem Bruntland gained her reputation as a sharp and savvy political mind while serving in various local health-care organizations, including the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, the Oslo City Health Department,

and the Oslo School Health Services. In 1974, she was appointed Minister of Environmental Affairs and in 1975 became vice chair of the Labor Party. After leaving government service in 1979, Bruntland ran for president of the Labor Party, winning overwhelming support from local constituencies. In 1980, upon the resignation of Odvar Nordli, she took over as head of the minority government.

Bruntland became the first woman prime minister of Norway in 1981 but served for only an eight-month period. Upon her reelection in 1986, she appointed a number of women to Cabinet posts and facilitated the election of more women to governmental positions. Bruntland also worked on a plan to ease Norway's economic decline and, as chair of the United Nations Commission of the Environment, has led discussions on corporate responsibility for environmental health. One of Norway's most influential politicians abroad, Gro Bruntland surprised her nation when she resigned in 1996.