Alþingishúsið, Reykjavík’s Parliament House, may not exactly be a must-see for tourists but as the city is compact enough to for people to see everything it has to offer, any visitors would likely come around to its vicinity sooner or later. It’s a lively area with everything one might expect in a city, from restaurants to bars to museums to monuments.
Often overlooked, though, is the bronze statue of Ingibjörg H. Bjarnason standing proud right outside the Alþingishúsið building, with a benevolent smile on her face. Bjarnason was a member of the Althing—the parliament of Iceland—from 1922 to 1927, and the first woman to become one at that, roughly two years after Icelandic women gained the right to vote.
Born in 1867, a young Ingibjörg H. Bjarnason aspired to be a gymnast and was the first Icelander in history to study gymnastics in Denmark. She returned to her country at the age of 26 and started teaching gymnastics at a children’s school in Reykjavík, later becoming a teacher and then principal at the Women’s College.
From 1894 onwards, Bjarnason worked as an active suffragist and eventually became the leader of the Women’s Slate, a precursor to the feminist Women’s List political party, following the success of the women’s suffrage movement. Being a representative of the Conservative Party, she received a reasonable amount of criticism from fellow feminists, but she continued to lead the women’s liberation movement after retiring from politics nonetheless and her legacies have been immortalized by the Althing.