When she was sworn into Finland’s office on December 10 after the leader of her Social Democratic Party stepped down, 34-year-old Sanna Marin became the world’s youngest prime minister.
But before she blazed the political trail for young women worldwide, Marin worked as a cashier.
“My first job was a summer job at a packing company in a bakery in Tampere. I was 15 years old,” Marin wrote on her blog in 2016.
“In high school, I distributed magazines for a while to get pocket money. After graduation, I spent the intervening years working at the cashier's shop.”
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Marin even revealed that, at times, she found herself without a job entirely.
“At times I was unemployed for basic security,” she wrote.
Marin said she worked in sales while she studied, and didn’t take out a student loan because she “did not trust” she would be able to repay it.
“The situation would certainly have been different if my family's income had been higher.”
Her role as a cashier and a saleswoman attracted criticism from Estonia’s leader of far-right party Ekre, Mart Helme, who called Marin a “sales girl” and questioned her leadership authority on his party’s radio talk-show.
Marin, who said her childhood “did not include material abundance,” addressed the comments on Twitter shortly after.
“I’m extremely proud of Finland,” she said. “Here a poor family’s child can educate themselves and achieve their goals in life. A cashier can become even a prime minister.”
Finland leads the way in female political representation
Marin, who was the transport minister before her rise to the top, leads Finland’s governing coalition of five parties - all of which have female leaders.
What’s more, four of the five party leaders are under 35.
Marin, who secured the position as party leader after a narrow vote, told reporters it wasn’t being female that got her there.
“I have never thought about my age or gender, I think of the reasons I got into politics and those things for which we have won the trust of the electorate,” Marin said in response to questions about her political experience.
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