Honorary Distinctions

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Honorary Distinctions 2017-03-27T13:42:00+00:00

Honorary doctorates

Vigdís has been recognised for her work by the award of honorary doctorates and other titles from many universities and learned institutions around the world.

  • 1983: Honorary prize, Chancellerie des Universités de Paris, France
  • 1985: University of Grenoble, France
  • 1987: University of Bordeaux, France
  • 1988: Smith College, USA
  • 1989: Luther College, USA
  • 1989: University of Manitoba, Canada
  • 1990: University of Nottingham, England
  • 1990: University of Tampere, Finland
  • 1990: University of Gothenburg, Sweden
  • 1991: Gashuin University, Tokyo, Japan
  • 1993: University of Miami, USA
  • 1996: St Mary’s University, Halifax, Canada
  • 1996: University of Leeds, England
  • 1997: Memorial University, St John, Newfoundland, Canada
  • 1998: University of Guelph, Canada
  • 2000: University of Iceland, School of Engineering and Natural Sciences
  • 2001: Société de Géographie, France. Honorary member
  • 2003: Paul-Valéry University, Montpellier, France
  • 2005: University of Barcelona, Spain. Medal of Honour
  • 2006: Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland
  • 2010: University of Iceland, Faculty of Foreign Languages, Literature and Linguistics
  • 2016: Université Paris-Sorbonne et Université Pierre et Marie Curie


  • Vigdís Finnbogadóttir is patron or honorary committee chairman of a wide range of charitable institutions, including:
  • 1981 Brøste Optimist Prize
  • 1986 Icelandic Cancer Society (Krabbameinsfélag Íslands)
  • 1989 Save the Children (Samtökin Barnaheill). Vigdís was head of the founding committee when the charity was established in Iceland in 1989 and later became its official patron.
  • 2004 UNICEF Global Parents
  • 2003 Theatre Museum of Iceland (Leikminjasafn Íslands)
  • 2005 Nordic Sign Language Network through the Nordic Council
  • 2007 Mental Health Day, 10 October
  • 2009 The “Future Vision for Iceland” project at the Ministry of Ideas (Hugmyndaráðuneytið)

Honorary memberships of societies and associations

  • Women’s Rights Association of Iceland (Kvenréttindafélag Íslands) (1997)
  • Reykjavík Theatre Company (Leikfélag Reykjavíkur) (1994)
  • Icelandic Association of Actors (Félag íslenskra leikara) (1996)
  • Association of French Teachers in Iceland (Félag frönskukennara á Íslandi)
  • Association of Foreign Language Teachers in Iceland (Samtök tungumálakennara á Íslandi) (2010)
  • Iceland Tourist Guide Association (Félag leiðsögumanna)
  • Icelandic Forestry Association (Skógræktarfélag Íslands) (1984)
  • Icelandic Cancer Society (Krabbameinsfélag Íslands) (1986)
  • Icelandic Association of Nurses (Félag íslenskra hjúkrunarfræðinga) (1994)
  • Icelandic Association of Chartered Engineers (Verkfræðingafélag Íslands) (1992)
  • Icelandic Search and Rescue Association (Slysavarnafélag Íslands)
  • Société de Géographie, Paris, France
  • Zonta International
  • Icelandic National League (Þjóðræknisfélagið), North America
  • Fondation Chirac, Paris, France
  • Iceland-Japan Society (Íslensk-japanska félagið) (2008)
  • Politica – Association of Politics Students in Iceland (2004)
  • Bernskan, the Icelandic division of OMEP, the World Organisation for Early Childhood Education (1999)
  • Danish-Icelandic Chamber of Commerce (Dansk-íslenska viðskiptaráðið) (2003)
  • French-Icelandic Chamber of Commerce (Fransk-íslenska viðskiptatráðið) (2012)

Other awards and marks of recognition:

  • 1986 Elected to the honorary board of the Iceland Cancer Society
  • 1990 Women’s International Center, Living Legacy Award
  • 1994 Socrates Prize, Sweden, for contributions to the furtherance of the language and culture of a small nation
  • 1996 Soil Conservation Service of Iceland Prize (Landgræðsla Íslands)
  • 1996 Socrates Prize, Sweden, for encouraging young Scandinavians to take an interest in the languages and cultures of their fellow Nordic nations
  • 1997 Special recognition from the Íslensk málnefnd (Icelandic Language Council) for services to the Icelandic language during her presidency
  • 1997 Prize of the Clara Lachmann Foundation and Jakob Letterstedt Society, Sweden, for services to promoting the Scandinavian cultural heritage in the wider world
  • 1997 Ceres medal of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation for work on behalf of minority group rights and support for FAO policy on feeding the world
  • 1998 Selma Lagerlöf Mårbacka prize, Sweden, for contributions to environmental affairs
  • 2002 Named Communicator of the Year by the charitable organisation International Training in Communication.
  • 2004 Special recognition and thanks from FKA: the Association of Women Business Leaders in Iceland
  • 2007 Elected honorary member of the Olave Baden-Powell Society for support for girl guides and scouts
  • 2008 Honorary award from the Ladies First International club
  • 2010 Jónas Hallgrímsson Award, Iceland, for contributions to the Icelandic language
  • 2011 Jón Sigurðsson Award, Iceland
  • 2011 Alliance Française Medal, France
  • 2012 Karen Blixen Prize, Danish Academy
  • 2013 Sigríður of Brattholt Award for Nature Conservation
  • 2013 Nordic Language Prize, Norway
  • 2014 WIP Award for Lifetime Achievements in Female Political Empowerment, awarded by the Women in Parliaments Global Forum
  • 2014 “Golden Lamp” of Blindrafélagið Íslands, the Icelandic Organisation of the Visually Impaired

Sólheimar Ecovillage

Vigdís has long been a keen benefactor of the Sólheimar ecovillage project by the river Ölfusá in Grímsnes in southern Iceland, donating to it, for example, the money left over from her presidential election fund in 1980. In 2008 a new service centre at Sólheimar was named Vigdísarhús in her honour. Vigdís attended the inauguration ceremony and declared the building open, and Dr Sigurbjörn Einarsson, bishop of Iceland, delivered a speech and blessed the project. The centre is one of the two main buildings at the Sólheimar site.

Ladies First International

Vigdís was presented with the prize of the Ladies First International association in Paris in December 2008. This was the first time the prize had been awarded, its aim being to recognise women of exceptional talent who have acted as beacons of hope and role models for younger generations. In the citation Vigdís Finnbogadóttir is said to have worked unstintingly with a wide range of international bodies to foster progress in cultural affairs and the sciences. Ladies First International was set up with the purpose of encouraging women to take increased participation in national life, politics and business. Its members number around 300 influential women from about forty countries.

H. C. Andersen Ambassador for literacy

In 2005, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Danish national writer H. C. Andersen, around 200 personalities from fifty countries were nominated as Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors. Iceland was represented in this list by Vigdís and the novelist Einar Már Guðmundsson. Princess Benedikte of Denmark came to Iceland to invest the nominees on behalf of the H. C. Andersen Foundation that aims at combating illiteracy in all parts of the world. The functions of the ambassadors consisted, among other things, in taking part in various events in connection with the anniversary.