Gro Brundtland

Born:April 20, 1939 (age 83)
Career:Director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), 1998-2003
Prime minister of Norway, 1981, 1986-1989 and 1990-1996
Party:Norwegian Labor Party
Education:University of Oslo
Harvard University

For more than 20 years, Gro Harlem Brundtland held public office in Norway, ten of which were served as prime minister. She was the first woman to hold the office of prime minister of Norway and also the youngest person to do so.

Brundtland was born in Oslo, Norway, on April 20, 1939. At the age of 7, she enrolled as a member of the Norwegian Labour Movement in its children's section and has been a member ever since, leading the Labour Party to election victory three times. When Brundtland was ten years old, her family moved to the United States, where her father had been awarded a Rockefeller scholarship.

A medical doctor and Master of Public Health (MPH), Brundtland worked ten years as a physician and scientist in the Norwegian public health system. In 1965, with the Ministry of Health, Brundtland worked on children's health issues including breastfeeding, cancer prevention and other diseases. She worked in the children's department of the National Hospital and Oslo City Hospital and became director of health services for Oslo's schoolchildren. During this time, she was also representing Norway in international conferences and raising her own family.

Throughout the 1970s, Brundtland acquired international recognition in environmental circles and a political reputation at home. In 1974, she was offered the job of minister of the environment. In 1981, at the age of 41, she was appointed prime minister for the first time.

In 1983, the United Nations Secretary General invited her to establish and chair the World Commission on Environment and Development. The Commission, which is best known for developing the broad political concept of sustainable development, published its report, "Our Common Future," in April 1987. The Commission's recommendations led to the Earth Summit - the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

Brundtland served two additional terms as Norway's prime minister, from 1986 to 1989 and again from 1990 to 1996. She stepped down as prime minister in October 1996.  In January 1998, the Executive Board of the WHO nominated her as director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO). The World Health Assembly elected her for the position on May 13, 1998. She took office in July of the same year, serving until July 2003.