Kaja Kallas: Estonia’s first female prime minister
Kaja Kallas was born in 1977 in Tallinn and comes from a prominent family. As a child, she lived politics closely, being the daughter of Kristi and Siim Kallas, a famous Estonian politician who was Vice President and Commissioner for Administration, Audit and Anti-Fraud at the European Commission and later Commissioner for Transport. Besides, he served as President of the Bank of Estonia, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Finance and even became Prime Minister of his country between 2002-2003. In the mid-1990s, Siim Kallas was one of the founders of the Reform Party. Siim Kallas became active in Estonia’s independence movement in 1987 and was one of the Reform Party’s founders.
Kaja Kallas has a law degree from the University of Tartu and a master’s degree in business administration from the Estonian Business School. Before entering frontline politics, she worked as a lawyer.
She speaks Estonian, English, Finnish, French and Russian.
Active in local politics
In 2011, Kallas became a member of the Reform Party and, in the same year, was elected to the Estonian parliament, where she chaired the Economic Affairs Committee until 2014. She also published a blog and became well known for an occasional criticism of her own party, at the time led by Andrus Ansip.
Her stint at the EU
In 2014, she was elected to the European Parliament, where she worked on the EU’s digital single market strategy, energy and consumer policies, and relations with Ukraine.
In 2019, Politico magazine picked her as one of the 40 members of the European Parliament “who mattered in 2014-2019” – the last term of the European Union’s legislative body. “A competition lawyer, Kallas shone brightly in her time as an MEP, developing a high profile on the tech brawls that came to dominate the Parliament’s agenda,” Politico said.
The first female prime minister
Kaja Kallas, the Reform Party leader, has become Estonia’s first female prime minister; Estonia is thus currently the only country where both the president and the prime minister are women.
Kaja Kallas was nominated to form the government by the Estonian president, Kersti Kaljulaid, on 14 January 2021 – after the previous governing coalition, led by the Centre Party, collapsed.
Assuming office, Kaja Kallas, 43, said: “The first thing we are going to deal with is the health crisis,” alluding to the coronavirus pandemic. “Our goal is to keep Estonia as open as possible so that people can go to work, children to school and economic activities to continue,” she added.
The calibre of Kallas gives women of the world the hope that nothing is off-limits provided that the dreams remain alive.