Danish Zonta role model Jytte Hilden turns 80 on September 12, 2022

Foto: Sara_Skytte

Former Minister of Culture, Minister of Research and Head of Culture Jytte Hilden, Member of the Zonta Club Copenhagen I, turns 80 on September 12, 2022.






Personally she has this short summary: ”Pedagogics and politics became my destiny, I love the Periodic Table, the Danish Constitution and the Moraine landscape of Odsherred. In 1953 my parents bought a small house in Odsherred, and we have stayed in the plantation since then. So this is also where I shall celebrate my 80th birthday together with my family.

My life has been long, with light, shadow, bumps on the road, black holes and star moments. I was born curious with a desire to change the world, and this lasts a lifetime.”

Not many people would declare their love of the Periodic Table for the elements, but Jytte Hilden loved her education as a chemical engineer and stayed with her subject for many years, first as a researcher and then as a high school teacher. Her enthusiasm for the subject inspired many of her students to also choose to study chemistry, and especially for the girls she was undoubtedly a role model. After many years as a very popular chemistry teacher at Nørre Gymnasium, Jytte became headmaster at Roskilde Katedralskole from 1983-93. At this point her political career in the Social Democratic Party had also picked up speed and this led to her becoming part of the Government as Minister of Culture 1993-96 and later as Minister of Research from 1996-98. In both offices she has left her marks – the most visible probably being the new big building for the Roayal Library in Copenhagen, named the “Black Diamond”. This new building gave the library a much better frame for its activities and contributed significantly to the new Waterfront of Copenhagen. She is also remembered for her efforts to improve the career opportunities for female researchers, both for the sake of the women involved and to ensure that Denmark can realize its full potential in the competitive international world of research.

From 1999-2004 Jytte Hilden was Head of Culture at the Royal Library, and afterwards she threw herself into a long and varied series of activities, including travels with her 6 grandchildren and writing or editing a series of books, including the ”99 pink elephants” about an impressive series of Danish women who broke the norms for what women could undertake.

She was early on active advocating for equal rights and opportunities for women in all areas, and this has lasted throughout her long and active life, first as a teacher, then as a top politician and in the last 20 years as an active member of the Zonta Club of Copenhagen I. She was active in developing Zonta Clubs in Lithuania and often housed Zonta committee meetings in her flat in Copenhagen, and she was the one who finally got the Club on Facebook. Still spending much time in her summer home in Odsherred, she also formed connections to the Zonta Club in Holbæk and has been active the Women’s Network in Odsherred.