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Ingibjörg H. Bjarnason - the first woman in parliament


Ingibjörg H. Bjarnason
(1867-1941)

Born in a small village to a merchant and his wife, Ingibjörg H. Bjarnason attended The Women's School in Reykjavík graduating in 1882. She then attended schools in Denmark and graduated in gymnastics, the first Icelander to do so. She travelled to Germany and Switzerland in order to gather knowledge about schools.

Ingibjörg H. Bjarnason taught gymnastics at the children's school in Reykjavík from 1893-1901. She became a teacher at The Women's School in Reykjavík in 1903, and in 1906 she became the principal, a post which she held until she died.

Ingibjörg H. Bjarnason became active in the women's movement as early as 1894. When Icelandic women gained suffrage in 1915, the women's organizations chose her to address parliament and give a speech at the celebration. She was also elected to lead the committee that the women's organizations elected to find ways to commemorate the suffrage. The women decided to gather money to build a national hospital — a dream that was realized in 1930.

Ingibjörg H. Bjarnason headed the Women's Slate in 1922 and took seat in parliament. There she engaged herself in work that benefitted women and children. She did not marry and had no children.

Members of parliament in 1924, photo courtesy of Alþingi.

Parliament in 1924

In 2015 a few of her belongings were donated to the Women's History Archives. They were found in a box at the school she was a head mistress of. It is the only personal material from her kept in Archives in Iceland. Details on her collection.

*Last edited on 21 June 2016