Finland’s Sanna Marin has just become the world’s youngest prime minister at the age of 34.
Marin, who was named Minister of Transport and Communications earlier this year, was voted in by her Social Democratic party after a turbulent week in which Prime Minister Antti Rinne resigned over criticism from within his coalition government of the handling of a postal workers’ strike.
She will now lead a center-left coalition with four other parties, all headed by women, three of whom are under 35.
“She doesn’t come out of nowhere,” said Johanna Kantola, a professor of gender studies at Finland’s Tampere University. “And she is quite well-liked.”
When she was sworn into office on Tuesday, Marin became the world’s youngest sitting prime minister. New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern is 39, while Ukrainian premier Oleksiy Honcharuk is 35.
And, notably, she was raised in a “rainbow family”, living in a rented apartment with her mother and her mother’s female partner.
She told the Menaiset website (in Finnish) in 2015 that as a child she felt “invisible” because she was unable to talk openly about her family at school.
“That was something that couldn’t be discussed,” she told the publication, explaining openness about LGBTQ families in Finland is a very recent thing.
“The silence was the hardest,” she said. “The invisibility made me feel inferior. We were not recognized as a true family or equal with others.”
“Even when I was little, I was very candid and stubborn,” she said. “I wouldn’t have taken anything easily.”
Marin said her mother had always been supportive and made her believe she could do anything she wanted.
“My mother has always been very supportive and has made me believe that I can do exactly what I want,” she said.
Growing up in a working-class and rainbow family also made her see the importance of fighting for social justice.
“For me, people have always been equal,” she said. “It’s not a matter of opinion. That’s the foundation of everything.”