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New Prime Minister Of Finland Begins Her Term


The new prime minister of Finland began her term today. At age 34, she is now the youngest sitting prime minister in the world, and that got commentator and Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! panelist Maeve Higgins thinking.

MAEVE HIGGINS, BYLINE: No, I do not own a 3-year-old, so I haven't yet seen "Frozen 2," but I've been following a different story from another icy country far away, where a different young woman steps into her power to try and save the world from an eternal winter. That's today in Finland. Sanna Marin was sworn in as prime minister, making her the world's youngest. She is just 7 years old. Oh, sorry, no. She's 34. But still, isn't it extraordinary? And as far as I know, she doesn't even have cryokinetic powers, and she doesn't have an inexplicably cheerful snowman who's going to help her rule the land. I'd say she probably does have trolls, though.

But from my point of view, living in America, where we have never had a woman in the highest office and our current president is the oldest one we've ever elected, well, it seems impossible that we would ever get this chance. And Miss Marin's position in her society, it really does seem magical. She's now at the helm of Finland's coalition government, which is made up of five parties, four of which are led by women. And three of those women are under the age of 35.

Now, Miss Marin herself says that age is not important, and she's right. You know, I always say that, too. I'm 38 years old, and I'm constantly telling my 22-year-old boyfriend, age is not important. Now, don't look at my passport. Sanna Marin is not keen to talk about her age and her gender. She'd prefer to be identified by her actions - you know, just by her work. She's a Social Democrat. She's a left-leaning liberal, a former transport minister who wants to protect social welfare and to prevent further global climate chaos. Wow. That's what I think. I just think, my girl crush.

I also think, hang on. We do have young women raising their voices right here in America and stepping into their power, too. And people are listening. And these women, they're not princesses. They're not cartoons. They're very human. I'm talking about women like 30-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from the Bronx and 45-year-old London Breed. She's San Francisco's first black woman mayor. And 12-year-old Mari Copeny is still actually a child, but she's been fighting for clean water in Flint for almost four years now.

So I watch them work, and I know that the power of young women is more than a fairy tale. It's already reality, and it's about time. What's happening in Finland is not magic. To make it real here, all you have to do is believe in it.

SHAPIRO: That's commentator Maeve Higgins. You can hear her as a panelist on NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.