60 Countries and Counting…

What was the first country to elect a female head of government? How many countries currently have a female leader?

While Hillary Clinton’s nomination this week as the first female presidential nominee of a major US political party is a historic moment for our country it is important to remember all the women who have been first to lead their own countries.   There have always been female rulers, going all the way back to 2500 BCE in ancient Mesopotamia, Ku-baa is thought to be the first named female ruler. But the 20th and 21st centuries have seen lots of firsts for women as leaders of national governments, especially for those in elected positions. According to a Pew Research study, over the past five decades more than 60 countries have had a female leader. Of course, there is still work to be done, out of the ten most populous nations only have had a female leader

Currently, there are fourteen women who serve as heads of state and seven women who are heads of their nation’s government, including Theresa May of the UK who became her country’s second female Prime Minister earlier this month. Also, there are two reigning female monarchs Queen Elizabeth II of The United Kingdom and Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.

The following is the list of countries who have had a female leader.

  • Sri Lanka – 1960 – Sirimavo Bandaranaike
  • India – 1966 – Indira Gandhi
  • Isreal – 1969 – Golda Meir
  • Argentina – 1974 –  Isabel Martinez de Peron
  • The Central African Republic – 1975 – Elisabeth Domitien
  • The United Kingdom – 1979 – Margaret Thatcher
  • Portugal – 1979 – Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo
  • Bolivia – 1979 – Lidia Guelier
  • Dominica – 1980 – Eugenia Charles
  • Iceland – 1980 – Vigdís Finnbogadóttir
  • Norway – 1981 – Gro Harlem
  • Malta – 1982 – Agatha Barbara
  • Philippines – 1986 – Corazon Aquino
  • Pakistan – 1988 – Benazir Bhutto
  • Haiti – 1990 – Ertha Pascal-Trouillot
  • Lithuania – 1990 – Kazimira Prunskienė
  • Nicaragua – 1990 – Violeta Barrios de Chamarro
  • Ireland – 1990 – Mary Robinson
  • Bangladesh – 1991 – Khaleda Zia
  • France – 1991 – Edith Cresson
  • Poland – 1992 – Hanna Suchocka
  • Turkey – 1993 – Tansu Çiller
  • Canada – 1993 – Kim Campbell 
  • Burundi – 1993 -Sylvie Kinigi
  • Rwanda – 1993 – Agathe Uwilingiyimana
  • Bulgaria – 1994 – Reneta Indzhova
  • New Zealand – 1997 – Jenny Shipley
  • Guyana – 1997 – Janet Jagan
  • Switzerland – 1999 – Ruth Dreifuss
  • Panama – 1999 – Mireya Elisa Moscoso
  • Latvia – 1999 – Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, was re-elected in 2003
  • Finland – 2000 – Tarja Halonen
  • Senegal – 2001 -Mame Madior Boye
  • Indonesia – 2001 -Megawati Sukarnoputri
  • Sao Tome – 2002 – Maria das Neves
  • Serbia – 2002 – Nataša Mićić
  • Peru – 2003 – Beatriz Merino
  • Ukraine – 2005 – Yulia Tymoshenko
  • Germany – 2005 -Angela Merkel
  • Liberia – 2006 – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
  • Jamaica – 2006 – Portia Simpson Miller
  • Chile – 2006 – Michelle Bachelet
  • South Korea – 2006 – Han Myung-sook
  • Moldova – 2008 -Zinaida Greceanii
  • Croatia – 2009 – Jadranka Kosor
  • Lithuania – 2009 – Dalia Grybauskaite
  • Costa Rica -2010 – Laura Chinchilla
  • Trinidad and Tobago – 2010 – Kamla Persad-Bissessa
  • Australia – 2010 – Julia Gillard
  • Slovakia – 2010 – Iveta Radičová
  • Brazil – 2010 – Dilma Rousseff
  • Kosovo – 2011 – Atifete Jahjaga
  • Thailand – 2011 – Yingluck Shinawatra
  • Denmark – 2011 – Helle Thorning-Schmidt
  • Malawi – 2012 – Joyce Banda
  • Slovenia – 2013 – Alenka Bratušek
  • Namibia – 2015 -Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila

Melissa Jones

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