Youngest female president in the history of the Movement
“A humanitarian tornado”, “queen of humanity”; Hanna Line Jakobsen has been called many names. In 2014, at age 33, she could also call herself the youngest female President of the Movement when she was elected President of the Danish Red Cross at the General Assembly. She succeeded two other female presidents, former Governor of the Danish Central Bank, Bodil Nyboe Andersen, and previous CEO of Scandinavian Airlines Denmark, Susanne Larsen.
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When she was elected President, Hanna Line already had a lengthy Red Cross CV. She became a Red Cross volunteer as a teenager, was later elected chair of the Danish Red Cross Youth, and in 2009 she was elected as a member of the Danish Red Cross Board.

“I appreciate that the former President of the Danish Red Cross gave me the courage to share my vision and ambitions”

– Hanna Line Jakobsen:, Denmark

Hanna Line never had a Red Cross career plan, but was captured by the vision of Henry Dunant, the relationships with other volunteers and the visible and tangible difference they could make in the lives of less privileged people. And her talent didn’t go unnoticed: “Then Danish Red Cross President, Bodil Nyboe Andersen, encouraged me to run for the Danish Red Cross board. To this day I appreciate that she - a very senior and experienced leader - reached out and gave me the courage to run and share my vision and ambitions openly.”

From the beginning, she was motivated by forming relationships and working with dedicated people to find new and sustainable humanitarian and social solutions: “I am a strong believer and practitioner of value-based leadership. I think it has merits in itself, but I am also convinced that it leads to better results.” While Hanna Line chaired the Danish Red Cross Youth and the Danish Red Cross the turnover and number of volunteers grew significantly.

She introduced the term “temporary voluntary people” in the Danish Red Cross to signify that we can all end up in a situation where we need help from others, and similarly that we all have something to contribute, and that everyone should be met with positive expectations and dignity. She put focus on the transition from being helped by the Red Cross to becoming a Red Cross volunteer.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice from women with more experience”

– Hanna Line Jakobsen, Denmark

Hanna Line ended her Red Cross Presidency in 2017 to take up a leadership position with UNICEF Denmark and has since moved on to become Head of the social and humanitarian area in the Novo Nordisk Fund, which is among the largest private foundations in the world. However, she is a “Red Cross’er” for life, and a true inspiration for young women everywhere who want to make a difference through their actions and leadership.

When asked about her advice to other women with leadership ambitions she says: “Madeleine Albright has been quoted for saying that ‘there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women’. I agree, but luckily my experience is that we women have a lot to offer each other. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice from women with more experience. Learn from men and move into the spotlight instead of staying in the shadow. But also stay true to the comparative leadership advantage of most women, namely our holistic approach and focus on collective results. We don’t succeed alone, but together. Tutte sorelle!”

Hanna Line Jakobsen

Denmark, 1999

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Across all regions, between 45-57 per cent of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are women.

– IFRC Everyone Counts Report, 2019

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