‘I don’t feel like a role model’ – Finland’s new 34-year-old leader

Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin during an interview with Reuters after a European leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium December 13, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUSSELS/HELSINKI (Reuters) – She may be the world’s youngest-serving head of government, but Finland’s newly appointed prime minister does not feel like a role model, 34-year-old Sanna Marin told Reuters on Friday.

Marin became the Nordic country’s prime minister on Tuesday, and two days later found herself rubbing shoulders at a European Union summit with leaders of 27 countries, including the powerful figures of Emmanuel Macron of France and Angela Merkel of Germany.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen beamed and embraced Marin warmly as they met at the Brussels summit.

The appointment of a youthful women to lead her country has been seized on by media around the globe, many of them seeing in her a “role model” for others living in societies where politics have long been dominated by older men.

“I don’t feel like a role model,” she said in an interview. “I might be for some people, but we are all just human beings: The issues matter, not the people behind the issues we are all working on. I think everyone matters.”

Marin, who started out on her political career when she was in her mid-20s, said she was spurred by climate change and a feeling “that the older generation weren’t paying enough attention” to it.

She said there is no trick to her success – just hard work.

Marin, whose Cabinet of 19 ministers will include 13 women, said she would work closely with European allies.

“We are stronger together,” she said. “Neither one of us can find the solutions alone so I think that we have a platform, we have to use it.”

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