|Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland (1939-)
Director General, World Health Organization (July 1998 - present)
Life Before Politics
Brundtland was born in Oslo, Norway on April 20,1939. Politics and medicine were fixtures of her life from the earliest days of her childhood. Brundtland's father was a medical doctor who specialized in rehabilitation medicine. When Brundtland was 10 years old, her family moved to the United States after her father received a Rockefeller scholarship to study. She was influenced by her father and became fixated on one day starting her own career in medicine. When her father accepted a position in Egypt as a United Nations expert on rehabilitation several years later, his family went with him, and Brundtland had her first experience with the UN System.1
After her family returned to Norway, Brundtland remained dedicated to pursuing medicine. Her father, who was also a prominent member of the nation's Labour Party, was appointed Defense Minister of the Norwegian cabinet. Brundtland's father had already convinced his daughter join the Party's children's organization: young Gro had been a member of the Labour Party since age 7. Political debate, she recalls, was always present in her home, and was always fascinating to her. 'There were always political and intellectual challenges," she says. At dinner time, she often questioned her father about the political issues he faced in cabinet. "I was always asking, 'Why are things so? Why can't we do more?" In addition, Brundtland's parents encouraged their daughter to believe that women can achieve the same things in the world as men.2
Education and Medical Career:
Brundtland received a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Oslo in 1963. In 1965 she received a Master of Public Health degree from Harvard University in Massachusetts. From 1968 until 1974, she worked for Oslo's Department of Social Services as the Assistant Medical Director of the Oslo Board of Health. There, her career focused on children's health issues.1
Brundtland is married to Arne Olav Brundtland, a prominent member of Norway's Conservative party, the opposition to Brundtland's Labour Party. Also an expert on international relations he said in a 1989 interview with Time, "My field is analysis of international relations. Her field is doing international relations. That makes for very good morning seminars." The Brundtlands have four children and eight grandchildren.2
First 100 Days as Director-General of WHO
"There is a very close connection between being a doctor and a politician. The doctor tries to prevent illness, then tries to treat it if it comes. It's exactly the same as what you try to do as a politician, but with regard to society."
Brundtland has only been Director General of the WHO for a few months. But she is already putting her combined medical and political skills to work at her new job.
Brundtland's first act as Director-General was to completely alter the structure of the WHO. The organization now consists of programs in nine separate "clusters." Each cluster is headed by an Executive Director. Following in the tradition she established in Norway, a majority of the Executive Directors -- five of the nine ministers -- are women.
Brundtland's agenda for the organization includes:
Women in Norway4
Brundtland on Womens' Rights
* This citation currently incomplete. It will be updated as soon as it is practically possible to do so.
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|Flag graphic byAntonio Martins, courtesy of FOTW: Flags Of The World website <http://fotw.digibel.be/flags/> 6/29/99
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Map courtesy of theUniversity of Texas' Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection <http://www.lib.utexas.edu/Libs/PCL/Map_collection/Map_collection.html> 6/29/99
Statistical Information provided by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs "Minifacts about Norway" page <http://odin.dep.no/ud/publ/1998/statistikk/en/> sections 10 and 15. 7/13/99 (This page is hosted by the "Official Documentation and Information from Norway" [ODIN] server at <http://odin.dep.no/>)
Gender Equity Information provided by Neft, Naomi and Levine, Ann D. Where Women Stand: An International Report on the Status of Women in 140 Countries 1997-1998. NewYork: Random House, 1997.
Development infromation provided by the United Nations Human Development Report 1998 <http://www.undp.org/hdro/98.htm> 6/29/99
HDI = Human Development Index; GDI = Gender-related Development Index; Click on an index name in the table to view the full chart for that index
Biographical profile ©1999 Hillary Cavanscki. Compilation of country information by Michael Cohen '01. Site as a whole is ©1999 Dessima Williams and CIMTech at Brandeis University. All rights reserved. Further copywright and contact information available at the site index.