Scandinavia's first woman prime minister, Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, a physician, is a renowned champion of women's rights, environmental issues and public health. Since 1998 she has been the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Born in 1939, Brundtland entered the Norwegian government in 1974 at the age of 35 as environment minister and became the Prime Minister when she was all of 41, a record in Norway. She grew immensely popular; so much so that at her peak cartoonists would just draw her shoes and ankles and show the other politicians standing around her feet.
Her decline in Norwegian politics began in 1992 when she quit as Labour Party leader following her son's suicide. In 1994 , Norwegians voted against a referendum on joining the European Union, which she had vociferously campaigned for.
Her participation in the UNO ran concurrently to her political career. She earned international recognition in 1980s as chairwoman of the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development. In 1987, she produced "Brundtland report", which led to the first Earth Summit in 1992.
At the UN conference on population in Cairo in 1994, she aroused the ire of Muslims and Catholics by calling for abortion to be decriminalised. Brundtland is married to Arne Olav Brundtland, who is in Norway's Conservative party, the opposition to Brundtland's Labour Party.