FEMALE WORLD LEADERS CURRENTLY IN POWER

The following is a list of female presidents and prime ministers who are presently in power as of June 1, 2014.

All data comes care of Rulers.org, WorldStatesmen.org, or Regnal Chronologies.

CURRENT TOTAL: 21

We are currently living under a record-high number of simultanious female world leaders.

A previously unprecedented total of 22 served simultaneously during the spring of 2014.

# Country Pic Leader In office since: Notes
1 Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel Nov. 22, 2005 - elected
2 Liberia President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Jan. 16, 2006 - elected
3 Argentina President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner Dec. 10, 2007 - elected
4 Bangledesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed Jan. 6, 2009 - elected
5 Lithuania President Dalia Grybauskaite Jul. 12, 2009 - elected
6 Costa Rica President Laura Chinchilla May 8, 2010 - elected
7 Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar May 26, 2010 - elected
8 Brazil President Dilma Rousseff Jan. 1, 2011 - elected
9 Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga Apr. 7, 2011 - elected
10 Denmark Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt Oct. 3, 2011 - elected
11 Jamaica Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller Jan. 5, 2012 - elected
12 Malawi President Joyce Banda Apr. 7, 2012 - succeeded
13 South Korea President Park Geun-hye Feb. 25, 2013 - elected
14 Slovenia Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek Mar. 20, 2013 - elected
15 Cyprus (North) Prime Minister Sibel Siber Jun. 13, 2013 - appointed
16 Senegal Prime Minister Aminata Touré Sep. 3, 2013 - appointed
17 Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg Oct. 16, 2013 - elected
18LatviaPrime Minister Laimdota StraujumaJan. 22, 2014 -elected
19
Central African Republic President Catherine Samba-Panza Jan. 23, 2014 - appointed
20
ChilePresident Michelle BacheletMar. 11, 2014 -elected
21
MaltaPresident Marie-Louise Coleiro PrecaApr. 7, 2014 -elected

"Elected" refers to women leaders who were elected in democratic elections, including both direct election and parliamentary election.
"Succeeded" refers to leaders who automatically assumed their position following the resignation or impeachment of a predecessor, and were thus not specifically elected to their post.
"Appointed" refers to leaders who were appointed to office by a ruling party or executive, and were thus not specifically elected to their post.
"Coup" refers to a leader who staged a coup or revolution to take office through force.

Sometimes leaders who were originally appointed to office managed to win election. In such cases both dates are noted.

Queens or Vice-Regal Females in power

A few countries have reining female queens, or, if they are a member of the British Commonwealth, a female governor general representing Queen Elizabeth as Head of State. As they are merely symbolic rulers, they do not officially "count" as female world leaders in the same way politicians do.

# Country   Leader In office since:
1 United Kingdom Queen Elizabeth II Feb. 6, 1952 -
2 Denmark Queen Margethe II Jan. 14, 1972 -
4 Saint Lucia Governor-General Dame Pearlette Louisy Sep. 17, 1997 -
5 Antigua and Barbuda Governor-General Dame Louise Lake-Tack Jul. 17, 2007 -
6 Australia Governor-General Quentin Bryce Sep. 5, 2008 -

All countries with female presidents, past and present

A president is either the executive leader of a country, or a ceremonial figurehead chosen to "represent the nation" but not exercise any real political power.

Country   Leader Term Notes
Argentina (1st time) President Isabel Peron Jul. 1, 1974 - Mar. 24, 1976 succeeded, wife
Iceland President Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Aug. 1, 1980 - Jul. 31, 1996 elected
Malta (1st time) President Agatha Barbara Feb. 15, 1982 - Feb. 15, 1987 elected
Philippines (1st time) President Corazon Aquino Feb. 25, 1986 - Jun. 30, 1992 elected, wife*
Nicaragua President Violeta de Chamorro Apr. 25, 1990 - Jan. 10, 1997 elected
Ireland (1st time) President Mary Robinson Dec, 3, 1990 - Sep. 12, 1997 elected
Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunga Nov. 12, 1994 - Nov. 19, 2005 elected, daughter
Ireland (2nd time) President Mary McAleese Nov. 11, 1997 - Nov. 11, 2011 elected
Guyana President Janet Jagan Dec. 19, 1997 - Aug. 11, 1999 elected, wife
Switzerland (1st time) President Ruth Dreifuss Jan. 1, 1999 - Dec. 31, 1999 appointed
Latvia President Vaira Vike-Freiberga Jul. 8, 1999 - Jul. 8, 2007 elected
Panama President Mireya Moscoso Sep. 1, 1999 - Sep. 1, 2004 elected, wife
Finland President Tarja Halonen Mar. 1, 2000 - elected
Philippines (2nd time) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Jan. 20, 2001 - June 30, 2010 succeeded 2001, elected 2004, daughter
Indonesia President Megawati Sukarnoputri Jul. 23, 2001 - Oct. 20, 2004 succeeded, daughter
Serbia President Natasa Micic Dec. 30, 2002 - Jan. 27, 2004 appointed
Liberia President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Jan. 16, 2006 - elected
Chile President Michelle Bachelet Mar. 11, 2006 - Mar. 11, 2010 elected
Switzerland (2nd time) President Micheline Calmy-Rey Jan. 1, 2007 - Dec. 31, 2007 appointed
Bosnia & Herzegovina President Borjana Kristo Feb. 22, 2007 - Mar. 17, 2011 elected
India President Pratibha Patil Jul. 25, 2007 - Jul. 25, 2012 elected
Argentina (2nd time) President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner Dec. 10, 2007 - elected, wife
Lithuania President Dalia Grybauskaite Jul. 12, 2009 - elected
Switzerland (3rd time) President Doris Leuthard Jan. 1, 2010 - Dec. 31, 2011 appointed
Kyrgyzstan President Rosa Otunbayeva Apr. 7, 2010 - Dec. 1, 2011 coup
Costa Rica President Laura Chinchilla May 8, 2010 - elected
Brazil President Dilma Rousseff Jan. 1, 2011 - elected
Switzerland (4th time) President Micheline Calmy-Rey Jan. 1, 2011 - Dec. 31, 2011 appointed
Switzerland (5th time) President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf Jan. 1, 2012 - Dec. 31, 2013 appointed
South Korea President Park Geun-hye Feb. 25, 2013 - elected, daughter
Central African RepublicPresident Catherine Samba-PanzaJan. 23, 2014 -appointed
Chile (2nd time)President Michelle BacheletMar. 11, 2014 -elected
Malta (2nd time)President Marie-Louise Coleiro PrecaApr. 7, 2014 -elected

"Wife" indicates leaders whose husband was also president at one time.
"Daughter" indicates leaders whose father was also president at one time.

* though not a wife of a president, Ms. Aquino's political career was largely the result of her marriage to a very prominent senator, who was later assasinated. Her son, interestingly, would also later serve as president.

Less than a year in power (acting, interim leaders, etc)

The following female leaders all assumed office on some sort of interim basis and cannot be properly regarded as a "full" president. They often held the presidency while simultaniously holding some other office of government, usually speaker of parliament..

Country   Leader Term
Mongolia President Sükhbaataryn Yanjmaa Sep. 23, 1953 - Jul. 7, 1954
Bolivia President Lydia Gueiler Tejada Nov. 17, 1980 - Jul. 18, 1980
Guinea-Bissau President Carmen Pereira May 14, 1984 - May 16, 1984
Haiti President Ertha Pascal-Trouillot Mar. 13, 1990 - Jan. 7, 1991
East Germany President Sabine Bergmann-Pohl Apr. 5, 1990 - Oct. 2, 1990
Liberia President Ruth Perry Sep. 3, 1996 - Aug. 2, 1997
Ecuador President Rosalía Arteaga Serrano Feb. 9, 1997 - Feb. 11, 1997
Georgia (1st time) President Nino Burjanadz Nov. 23, 2003 - Jan. 25, 2004
Georgia (2nd time) President Nino Burjanadz Nov. 25, 2007 - Jan. 20, 2008
Israel President Dalia Itzik Jan. 25, 2007 - Jul. 15, 2007
South Africa President Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri Sep. 25, 2008
Gabon President Rose Francine Rogombé Jun. 10, 2009 - Oct. 16, 2009
Mauritius President Monique Ohsan-Bellepeau Mar. 31, 2012 - Jul. 21. 2012
Serbia President Slavica Djukic Dejanovic Apr. 4, 2012 - May 31, 2012

All countries with female prime ministers, past and present

A prime minister is, in most circumstances, the leader of the national parliament. How much power she exercises can vary greatly based on the country, and how strong the president (or in some cases, monarch) that sits above her is.

Country   Leader Term Notes
Sri Lanka (1st time) Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike Jul. 21, 1960 - Mar. 27, 1965 elected, wife
India (1st time) Prime Minister Indira Gandhi Jan. 19, 1966 - Mar. 24, 1977 elected, daughter
Israel Prime Minister Golda Meir Mar. 17, 1969 - Jun. 3, 1974 appointed 1969, elected 1971
Sri Lanka (2nd time) Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike May 29, 1970 - Jul. 23, 1977 "
Central African Republic Prime Minister Elisabeth Domitien Jan. 2, 1975 - Apr. 7, 1976 appointed*
United Kingdom Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher May 4, 1979 - Nov. 28, 1990 elected
India (2nd time) Prime Minister Indira Gandhi Jan. 14, 1980 - Oct. 31, 1984 "
Dominica Prime Minister Dame Eugenia Charles Jul. 21, 1980 - Jun. 14, 1995 elected
Norway (1st time) Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland Feb. 4, 1981 - Oct. 14, 1981 elected
Yugoslavia Prime Minister Milka Planinc May 16, 1982 - May 15, 1986 appointed*
Norway (2nd time) Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland May 9, 1986 - Oct. 16, 1989 "
Pakistan (1st time) Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto Dec. 2, 1988 - Aug. 6, 1990 elected, daughter
Norway (3rd time) Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland Nov. 3, 1990 - Oct. 25, 1996 "
Bangledesh (1st time) Prime Minister Khaleda Zia Mar. 20, 1991 - Mar. 30, 1996 elected, daughter
Poland Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka Jul. 8, 1992 - Oct. 26, 1993 appointed
Turkey Prime Minister Tansu Çiller Jun. 25, 1992 - Mar. 6, 1996 appointed
Pakistan (2nd time) Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto Oct. 19, 1993 - Nov. 5, 1996 "
Sri Lanka (3rd time) Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike Nov. 14, 1994 - Aug. 10, 2000 "
New Zealand (1st time) Prime Minister Jenny Shippley Dec. 8, 1997 - Dec. 10, 1999 appointed
New Zealand (2nd time) Prime Minister Helen Clark Dec. 10, 1999 - Nov. 19, 2008 elected
Senegal (1st time) Prime Minister Mame Madior Boye Mar. 2, 2001 - Nov. 4, 2002 appointed
Bangledesh (2nd time) Prime Minister Khaleda Zia Oct. 10, 2001 - Oct. 29. 2006 "
São Tomé and Príncipe Prime Minister Maria das Neves Oct. 7, 2002 - Sep. 18, 2004 appointed
Mozambique Prime Minister Luísa Diogo Feb. 17, 2004 - Jan. 16, 2010 appointed 2004, elected 2009
Ukraine (1st time) Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko Jan. 24, 2005 - Sep. 8, 2005 elected
Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel Nov. 22, 2005 - elected
Jamaica Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller Mar. 30, 2006 - Sep. 11, 2007 appointed
South Korea Prime Minister Han Myung Sook Ap. 19, 2006 - Mar. 7, 2007 appointed
Ukraine (2nd time) Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko Dec. 18, 2007 - Mar. 11, 2010 "
Haiti (2nd time) Prime Minister Michèle Pierre-Louis Sep. 5, 2008 - Nov. 11, 2009 appointed
Bangledesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed Jan. 6, 2009 - elected
Iceland Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir Feb. 1, 2009 - May 23, 2013 appointed 2009, elected 2009
Croatia Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor Jul. 6, 2009 - Dec. 2011 appointed
Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar May 26, 2010 - elected
Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard  Jun. 24, 2010 - Jun. 27, 2013 appointed 2010, elected 2010
Finland Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi Jun. 22, 2010 - Jun. 22, 2011 appointed
Slovakia Prime Minister Iveta Radicová  Jul. 8, 2010 - Apr. 4, 2012 elected
ThailandPrime Minister Yingluck ShinawatraAug. 8, 2011 - May 7, 2014
elected
Denmark Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt Oct. 3, 2011 - elected
Jamaica (2nd time) Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller Jan. 5, 2012 - elected
Slovenia Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek Mar. 20, 2013 - elected
Senegal (2nd time) Prime Minister Aminata Touré Sep. 3, 2013 - appointed
Norway (3rd time) Prime Minister Erna Solberg Oct. 16, 2013 - elected
LatviaPrime Minister Laimdota StraujumaJan. 22, 2014 -elected

* The infamous Milka Planinc served as head of government in Yugoslavia's Communist regime. Élisabeth Domitién served under the dictatorship of the insane "Emperor" Bokassa. They are the only two female prime ministers who ruled in non-democratic countries.

Less than a year in power (acting, interim leaders, etc)

Country   Leader Term
Portugal Prime Minister Maria de Lurdes Pintassilgo Aug. 1, 1979 - Jan. 3, 1980
Lithuania (1st time) Prime Minister Kazimiera Prunskien Mar. 17, 1990 - Jan. 10, 1991
France Prime Minister Edith Cresson May 15, 1991 - Apr. 2, 1992
Burundi Prime Minister Sylvie Kinigi Jul. 10, 1993 - Feb. 7, 1994
Canada Prime Minister Kim Campbell Jun. 25, 1993 - Nov. 4, 1993
Rwanda Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana Jul. 18, 1993 - Apr. 7, 1994
Bulgaria Prime Minister Reneta Indzhova Oct. 17, 1994 - Jan. 25, 1995
Sri Lanka Prime Minister Chandrika Kumaratunga Aug. 19, 1994 - Nov. 12, 1994
Haiti Prime Minister Claudette Werleigh Nov. 7, 1995 - Mar. 6, 1996
Guyana Prime Minister Janet Jagan Mar. 17, 1997 - Dec. 22, 1997
Lithuania (2nd time) Prime Minister Irena Degutiene May 4, 1999 - May 18, 1999
Lithuania (3rd time) Prime Minister Irena Degutiene Oct. 27, 1999 - Nov. 3, 1999
Mongolia Prime Minister Nyam-Osoryn Tuyaa Jul. 22, 1999 - Jul. 30, 1999
South Korea Prime Minister Chang Sang Jul. 11, 2002 - Jul. 31, 2002
Finland Prime Minister Anneli Jäätteenmäki Apr. 17, 2003 - Jun. 24, 2003
Peru (1st time) Prime Minister Beatriz Merino June 28, 2003 - Dec. 15, 2003
Macedonia (1st time) Prime Minister Radmila Sekerinska May 12, 2004 - Jun. 2, 2004
Macedonia (2nd time) Prime Minister Radmila Sekerinska Nov. 18, 2004 - Dec. 17, 2004
São Tomé and Príncipe Prime Minister Maria do Carmo Silveira Jun. 8, 2005 - Apr. 21, 2006
Moldova Prime Minister Zinaida Greceanîi Mar. 31, 2008 - Sep. 14, 2009
MadagascarPrime Minister Cécile Manorohanta
Dec. 18, 2009 - Dec. 20, 2009
Peru (2nd time) Prime Minister Rosario Fernández Mar. 19, 2011 - Jul. 28, 2011
Mali Prime Minister Cissé Mariam Kaïdama Sidibé Apr. 3, 2011 - March 22, 2012
Cyprus (North) Prime Minister Sibel Siber Jun. 13, 2013 - Sep. 2, 2013

All countries with female governor-generals

In a Commonwealth country, a governor general is a politician appointed by the prime minister to serve as "acting" head of state on behalf of the British monarch, the legal chief of state.

Canada (1st time) Governor-General Jeanne Sauvé May 14, 1984 - Jan. 29, 1990
Barbados Governor-General Dame Nita Barrow Jun. 6, 1990 - Dec. 19, 1995
New Zealand (1st time) Governor-General Dame Catherine Tizard Nov. 20, 1990 - Mar. 21, 1996
Saint Lucia Governor-General Dame Pearlette Louisy Sep. 17, 1997 -
Canada (2nd time) Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson Oct. 7, 1999 - Sep. 27, 2005
New Zealand (2nd time) Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright Apr. 4, 2001 - Aug. 23, 2006
Bahamas Governor-General Dame Ivy Dumont Nov. 13, 2001 - Nov. 25, 2005
Canada (3rd time) Governor-General Michaelle Jean Sep. 27, 2005 - Oct. 1, 2010
Antigua and Barbuda Governor-General Dame Louise Lake-Tack Jul. 17, 2007 -
Australia Governor-General Quentin Bryce Sep. 5, 2008 -

Historic female monarchs

Historically speaking, the principle of heritary monarchism has tended to supercede the principle of gender discrimantion, meaning even very sexually regressive socieites have allowed female monarchs to rule them from time to time, if that's how the monarchical birth lottery goes. Here are all the historic female monarchs of countries that still exist in some form today.

Denmark (1st time) Lady Margrethe I Aug. 10, 1387 - Jan. 23, 1396
Portugal (1st time) Queen Beatrix Oct. 22, 1383 - Apr. 6, 1385
Spain (1st time) Queen Isabella I of Castile
Dec. 11, 1474 - Nov. 26, 1504
Spain (2nd time) Queen Juana the Mad Nov. 26, 1504 - Apr. 12, 1555
England (1st time) Lady Jane Grey Jul. 6, 1553 - Jul. 19, 1553
England (2nd time) "Bloody" Mary Jul. 19, 1553 - Nov. 17, 1558
England (3rd time) Queen Elizabeth I Nov. 17, 1558 - Mar. 24, 1603
Sweden (1st time) Queen Christina Nov. 16, 1632 - Jun. 16, 1654
England (4th time) Queen Mary II Feb. 23, 1689 - Jan. 7, 1695
England (4th time) Queen Anne Mar. 19, 1702 - Aug. 12, 1714
Sweden (2nd time) Ulrica Eleonora Feb. 2, 1719 - Apr. 4, 1720
Russia (2nd time) Tsar Catherine I Feb. 8 1725 - May 17, 1727
Russia (3rd time) Tsar Anna Ivovna Feb. 13, 1730 - Oct. 28, 1740
Russia (4th time) Tsar Elizabeth Petrovna Dec. 6, 1741 - Jan. 5, 1762
Russia (5th time) Tsar Catherine II the Great Jul. 8, 1762 - Nov. 17, 1796
Portugal and Brazil (2nd time) Queen Maria
Feb. 24, 1777 - Mar. 20, 1816
Portgual (3rd time) Queen Maria II the Great Mar. 3, 1828 - Nov. 15, 1853
England (5th time) Queen Empress Victoria the Good Jun. 20, 1837 - Jan. 22, 1901
China Empress Dowager Cixi Feb. 25, 1875 - Mar. 4, 1889
Netherlands (1st time) Queen Regent Emma Dec. 8, 1890 - Aug. 31, 1898
Netherlands (2nd time) Queen Wilhelmina Aug. 31, 1898 - Sep. 4, 1948
Luxembourg (1st time) Grand Duchess Marie-Adélaïde Feb. 25, 1912 - Jan. 15, 1919
Luxembourg (2nd time) Grand Duchess Charlotte Jan. 15, 1919 - Nov. 12, 1964
Netherlands (3rd time) Queen Juliana Sep. 4, 1948 - Apr. 30, 1980
Netherlands (4th time) Queen Beatrix Apr. 30, 1980 - Apr. 30, 2013

Countries that have had more than one female leader (includes acting, interim leaders etc)

Switzerland (5) Five presidents*
Sri Lanka (3) One president, two prime ministers
Haiti (3) One president, two prime ministers
Finland (3) One president, two prime ministers
South Korea (3) Two prime ministers, one president
Lithuania (3) One president, two prime ministers
Argentina (2) Two presidents
Bangledesh (2) Two prime ministers
Central African Republic (2) One president, one prime minister
Guyana (2) One president, one prime minister*
Iceland (2) One president, one prime minister
India (2) One president, one prime minister
Ireland (2) Two presidents
Israel (2) One president, one prime minister
Liberia (2) Two presidents
Philippines (2) Two presidents
New Zealand (2) Two prime ministers
São Tomé and Príncipe (2) Two prime ministers
Sengal (2) Two prime ministers

*Switzerland has seen five female presidential terms, though two of those were held by the same woman. Guyana's double-status is debatable, since their female prime minister and female president were the same person.

Historic firsts

Sükhbaataryn Yanjmaa of Mongolia (1953-1954) World's first female (acting) president
Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka (1960-1965) World's first female prime minister
Isabel Peron of Argentina (1974-1976) World's first female (non-acting) president
Margaret Thatcher of the United Kingdom (1979-1990) World's first female prime minister who was elected without being either an incumbent or a relative of a male leader.
Vigdís Finnbogadóttir of Iceland (1980-1996) World's first female elected president, and first female world leader who did not have a father or husband who was also leader at one time.
Mary McAleese of Ireland (1997- 2011) First time that a female president directly succeed another female president.
Sri Lanka (1994-2000) First time that a nation possessed a female prime minister and a female president simultaneously. Sri Lanka in 1994 also marked the first time a female prime minister directly succeeded another female prime minister.
Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir of Iceland (2009-2013) World's first lesbian world leader, first female world leader to wed a same-sex partner while in office.

History's most important female world leaders

Prime Minister Golda Meir of Israel (1969-1974)

b. 1898 - d. 1978

Born in Russia but raised in the United States, Golda Meir was one of many young Jews who emigrated to the British colony of Palestine in the early 20th century. A leading Zionist and labor activist, she was one of the signatories of Israel's 1948 declaration of independence. In 1949 she was elected as a Labor Party delegate to the first Israeli parliament, and served in a number of cabinet positions under prime ministers David Ben-Gurion and Levi Eshkol, before succeeding to the office of prime minister herself, following Eshkol's 1969 death.

As prime minister, Meir's term was dominated by the so-called "Yom Kippur War" of 1973, in which Israel was unexpectedly invaded by Egypt and Syria. Though the war severely tested Meir's leadership, Israel was ultimately victorious, once again demonstrating the country's military strength in the face of hostile neighbors.

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India (1966-1977, 1980-1984)

b. 1917 - d. 1984

Though not related to the famed Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi, Indira was the son of India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru and was elected to lead his political party, the Indian National Congress in 1960, following his death. After serving in the cabinet of Prime Minister Bahadur Shastri, she in turn succeeded to the office of prime minister following his death in 1966.

Gandhi's two terms were tumultuous and eventful, and saw episodes such as a 1971 war with Pakistan over the disputed territory of Kashmir, the development of an Indian nuclear weapons program, and a so-called "Green Revolution" in farming that transformed the country's agriculture. Her tenure was not a positive time for civil liberties, however, and for much of her rule parliamentary democracy was all but suspended. She was assassinated in 1984.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of the United Kingdom (1979-1990)

b. 1925 - d. 2013

The son of a shopkeeper, Margaret Thatcher was elected to the British Parliament in 1959, and served in the cabinet of Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath from 1970 to 1974. In 1975 she was elected leader of the Conservatives, and was elected Britain's first female prime minister in 1979. Re-elected twice before resigning in 1990, she remains one of the longest-serving female world leaders of all time.

Fiercely ideological, Thatcher was best known for steering her political party and country sharply to the right through an aggressive agenda of tax cuts, privatizations, union-busting, and cuts to government spending. In 1982 she led her country in a brief, successful war against Argentina to liberate Britain's Falkland Islands from foreign invasion.

President Corazon Aquino of the Philippines (1986-1992)

b. 1933 - d. 2009

Corazon Aquino rose to prominence as the wife of Benigno Aquino, a leading opposition politician under the long dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. Following her husband's assassination in 1983, she assumed the leadership of the anti-Marcos opposition, eventually emerging as the leading opposition candidate in the 1986 presidential election, which she won, despite massive fraud from the Marcos campaign. Her inspirational story earned her the title of TIME magazine's 1986 "Person of the Year."

As president, Aquino led a highly reformist government that introduced a new, democratic constitution and removed the various political restrictions that had contributed to the repression of the Marcos years.

Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan (1988-1990, 1993-1996)

b. 1953 - d. 2007

Educated in England, Benazir Bhutto assumed the leadership of the Pakistan People's Party in 1979, following the execution of her father, former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. A leading opposition figure under the dictatorship of Gen. Zia-ul-Haq, she was elected prime minister of a coalition government in 1988 after his death.

Bhutto's two terms in office helped democratize Pakistan after years of dictatorship, but her government was also accused of widespread corruption. After losing office a second time in 1996, she spent much of her later life once again in opposition, this time to the new dictatorship of Gen. Pervez Musharraf. After a period of exile, she was assassinated in 2007, shortly after returning to the country. Her husband was then elected president in her place.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany (2005- )

b. 1954

Merkel grew up in East Germany and as a young woman she was a prominent figure in the opposition movement to the country's communist government. In 1991, following the reunification of east and west Germany, she was elected to the unified parliament under the conservative Christian Democratic Party and served as a cabinet minister under the government of Helmut Kohl. In 2000, she became head of the party and in 2005 was elected chancellor (prime minister).

Following the crippling worldwide economic recession of 2008, Merkel has emerged as one of the world's most powerful leaders, due to her tight command of the Europe Union's largest economy. Though her government has been financially generous towards some of Europe's more troubled nations, she has also pressed hard for austerity reforms to play a prominent role in any plan for long-term economic recovery, both at home and abroad.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia (2006 - )

b. 1938

An economist by profession, Sirleaf was educated in the United States before returning to Liberia to serve in the government of President William Tolbert, until his overthrow in 1980. Living mostly in exile, for the next 25 years she would make numerous attempts at a political comeback, but routinely faced jail terms and charges of treason for her activities. In 2005 she assumed the leadership of the united opposition to new dictator Charles Taylor and in 2006 was elected president following his exile.

Sirleaf's presidency has focused mostly on rebuilding Liberia's democratic institutions and fostering national reconciliation after decades of civil war and oppression, as well as helping modernize the country's economy. In 2011 she became the first-ever female world leader to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.

MAP SUMMARY:

map

Light pink- acting heads of government / state, Dark pink- full-term heads of state / government

World's 10 most populous nations and female leader status:

1 China No
2 India Yes
3 United States No
4 Indonesia Yes
5 Brazil Yes
6 Pakistan Yes
7 Bangladesh Yes
8 Nigeria No
9 Russia No
10 Japan No

See also my list of gay and lesbian world leaers.

email me: jjmccullough@gmail.com

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