The 61-year-old Norwegian is looking forward to spending
time with her second family, the Red Cross and Red Crescent
Movement. She is very committed to the programme on which
she was elected. One of her main aims is to strengthen National
Societies and the regional delegations.
“I would like to encourage the use of more local resources
for developing National Societies,” says the new President.
As an example she mentions her visit to West Africa where
she met the Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Red Cross
working as a delegate in Liberia. “I would like to encourage
things like that to happen in many more places,” she
Asked if it means anything that she is the first woman ever
to head the Federation, she answers:
“I guess my way of management is demo-cratic. It is
very important to me to get as many people as possible activated.”
She adds that she wants to use experiences from the whole
world in the leadership of the Federation. “I’ll
need to work very closely with the Vice-Presidents. To learn
from their experiences and bring that in is important”.
She also hopes to improve the cooperation between the ICRC
and the Federation.
“The new agreement is an important step towards a better
relationship between the two organizations and I already have
good relations with the ICRC President, Cornelio Sommaruga.
But there are still some communication problems about the
sharing of tasks in areas where war and peace overlap —
for instance, in the former Yugoslavia,” she says.
The Federation can expect to meet a good team leader. “Astrid
knows that she can’t do everything herself and is very
good at using the strengths of the people she works with.
At the same time, she is a person who demands your attention.
She can be tough and you can’t sleep at the back of
the classroom when you work with her,” says Sven Mollekleiv,
the Secretary General of the Norwegian Red Cross.
Heiberg will remain President of the Norwegian Red Cross,
but is planning to scale down her job at the university to
fulfil her two presidential positions.
Her busy life may mean that she cannot spend as much time
with her family and friends as many others, but when she does
it is, according to her 31-year-old daughter Lise, quality
time. “She is a very good listener and is very attentive
when she is there,” she says. “And you can count
on her. We have always known that if we really needed her,
she would come whatever she was doing.”