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She established the first training courses for tourist guides and the first theatre group in Iceland; member of the Advisory Committee on Cultural Affairs in Nordic countries, 1976-1980; Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, 1996 to present.
At her election in 1980 she was the first woman anywhere to be elected the head of state in a democratic election. She was re-elected unopposed in 1984 and 1992, and overwhelmingly won a contested election in 1988.
She is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.