- Elected women leaders around the World who made a massive impact with their ideology and governance.
- The highest position of executive power rested in these world leaders who each had a charisma of their own.
- These leaders, even after attaining office, typically faced challenges their male counterparts did not.
Kamala Harris, the first female vice-president of United States is a recipient of woman power for the first time in the country’s 200-plus-year history . Farida Jalalzai, a political scientist at Virginia Tech who studies the role of gender in the political arena says, “Nowhere in our history, we’ve been able to manage to have a woman president. That says something.”
Women have led the Government in more than 70 nations in the World in the past. Some of them have left a long-lasting legacy. They have etched their names forever in History’s Elected Women leaders.
Indira Gandhi – was first appointed Prime Minister of India in 1966. For the next 11-12 years she led the Congress Party. India won the 1971 war with Pakistan under her leadership; saw the creation of Bangladesh and declaration of Emergency in 1975. She was defeated in 1977 elections. She triumphantly returned to power in 1980. In 1984, she was assassinated by her own bodyguards, thus ending a remarkable political career. She remained a strong-willed, ambitious, independent leader, a symbol for women’s political rights around the world.To quote Mrs Gandhi “on the whole, even in the past, women have not felt suppressed. They have been. But a person who wanted to could usually break through, though, not always. … I’ve never had that feeling because nobody ever stopped me from doing anything.”
Margaret Thatcher was the first female prime minister of United Kingdom, who served from 1979 until 1990. She remains the longest-serving British prime minister of the 20th century. Nicknamed the “Iron Lady” Thatcher was eventually pressured by her own Conservative party to resign. Hugo Young in his biography of Thatcher wrote “What is certainly not disputable is the reluctance of this controlled and controlling woman to treat women, politically, as any different from men. She was against this on principle, apparently seeing nothing in her own rise to power which might prompt her to single women out for special attention … women as a separate category of voters were not of special interest.”
Sirimavo Bandaranaike, World’s first female Prime minister of Sri Lanka served three terms: 160-1965, 1970-1977,1994-2000. Under her leadership, Sri Lanka remained non-aligned vis-à-vis global Cold War power blocs and pushed forward Sri Lanka’s interests in global forums. She spearheaded the Indian Ocean Peace Zone Proposal at the UN.
There was much curiosity about how the woman premier was interacting with her male ministers in a male-dominated society. Once She was quoted on this: “I was often asked the question how I functioned with an all-male Cabinet. I must say that I had no problems. They all co-operated and gave me all the support necessary. Well, I appointed my Cabinet of Ministers.”
Golda Meir was best known as the fourth Prime Minister of Israel and the first woman to hold the title. In 1921, Golda immigrated to Palestine. In 1924 she joined Histadrut Trade Union and served as a delegate to the World Zionist Organization. Golda Meir emerged as powerful spokesperson for the Zionist movement and fought hard against the policy.
In 1948, Israel declared its independence and Golda Meir was one of the signers of Israel’s declaration. In that same year she was elected to Israeli parliament. She gained economic and military aid from U.S. President Richard Nixon, which helped her open peace talks with the United Arab Republic in hopes of ending hostilities.
Vigdis Finnbogadottir won election to become first female leader (President) of Iceland and Europe in 1980. She stepped down in 1996, after four terms in office. She is an icon in the Icelandic society and stands for political empowerment of women in the world. She received many awards. The Land Reclamation Award, Socrates Award, Jakob Lettersted’s Award and UN food and agricultural Organization Ceres medal. She received Honorary Doctorates from 18 universities.
Angela Merkel became the first woman Chancellor of Germany in 2005. She is frequently called most powerful woman in the world and de facto leader of the European Union. She stands for a strong European Union. In 2015, she declared that Germany would process asylum for Syrian refugees. Angela had good relations with George W. Bush and Barack Obama but not so much with Donald Trump.She out rightly criticized Britain’s decision to leave the EU. Forbes considers Angela Merkel as the most powerful woman in the world.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2005 beat quite a few male candidates in Liberia’s first presidential election since Liberia’s long civil war. She became Africa’s first democratically elected female head of state; winning support from nearly 80 percent of women voters
Benazir Bhutto took over as chairperson of the PPP in 1982. She served two times as P.M in the 1990s that ended early amid charges of corruption, Bhutto spent several years in exile in London. She returned to participate in Pakistan general elections in 2008 but was killed during an attack at a PPP rally in the late 2007. “I didn’t choose this life,” Bhutto said. “It chose me.” Bhutto was a potent symbol of Muslim women’s empowerment. She was the first democratically-elected woman to lead a Muslim nation.
Jacinda Ardern was sworn in for a second term as New Zealand Prime Minister, on 6 Nov 2020. She magnificently tackled COVID-19 and leveraged her success by winning with an unprecedented majority leading her party to its biggest win since World War II. Her rise was so meteoric that it earned a proper name: Jacindamania.