Entity looks at female heads of state.

As America’s 2016 election draws near, Hilary has earned enough votes to make her the first female candidate for presidency. And if she wins, she will be America’s first female president. But, while America is barely on the cusp of electing a female president, other countries around the world currently have female heads of state. Let’s see who these ladies are!

Queen Elizabeth II

As the head of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Queen Elizabeth has been on the throne since 1952. She is currently the longest reigning monarch in Britain’s history. She has been married to Phillip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh, since 1947. Her one son Prince Charles is heir to the throne. She is also Prince William’s and Price Harry’s grandmother. Throughout her reign, she has adapted to changing times.

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark

She is the first Danish queen to ascend to throne by birth, following a change in the Danish constitution in 1953. Margrethe II has been queen since 1972. She married in 1967 to Henri Marie Jean Andrea, Count of Laborde deMonpezat. In 1968, she gave birth to Frederik André Henrik Christian, and her second child, Joachim Holger Waldemar Christian, was born the following year in 1969. Before she served as queen, she performed voluntary services with the Women’s Flying Corps from 1958-1970.

Governor General Hon. Dr. Dame C. Pearlette Louisy

In 1997 Dame Calliopa Pearlette Louisy became the first woman to hold the title of Governor-General of St. Lucia. She studied at the University of the West Indies in Barbados, got her MA at the Université Laval in Quebec City, Canada, and then received her PhD at University of Bristol in 1992.  She also helped develop the education system of St. Lucia. Before getting appointed in September 1997, she was a principle at Sir Arthur Lewis Community College.

Angela Merkel

Merkel entered politics after the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall. But, before she began politics, she studied physics at the University of Leipzig.  In 1989, she joined the Christina Democratic Union Party. She was elected as the first female chancellor of Germany in 2005. She has also earned the nickname “Mutti” or “Mother” from her people. In 2015, she was TIME Person of the Year.

 Executive President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

Early in Johnson-Sirleaf’s political career in Liberia, she served as President William Tolbert’s Assistant Minister of Finance. When Sergeant Samuel Doe overthrew Tolbert in 1980, Johnson-Sirleaf went into exile. She returned briefly to Liberia in 1985, although she was sentenced to 10 years in prison for speaking out against Doe. However, she only served a partial sentence before moving to Washington DC. She came back to Liberia for a third time in 1997. In 2006, she was inaugurated. Johnson-Sirleaf is known as the “Iron Lady,” and was the world’s first Black female president and Africa’s first female Head of State.

Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

Before her position as the chairperson of Commission of the African Union, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma served as the Minister of Health under President Nelson Mandela in 1994. In 1999, she became Minister of Foreign Affairs. She helped achieve peace and stability in Burundi and in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Her appointment as Minister of Home Affairs in 2009 allowed for a clean audit to be reached in 2011.  By 2012, she was elected as chairperson and became the first woman to hold the position.

PresidentPark Geun-hye

As the daughter of former President Park Chung-hee, Park Guen-hye got started in politics at an early age. When her mother died in 1974, Guen-hye acted as First Lady of South Korea at just 22 years old. She became Vice Chairperson of the Grand National Party in 1998. Six years later, in 2004, she was elected as the chairperson of the party. She then became South Korea’s first female president in 2012.

Željka Cvijanović

Cvijanović currently acts the Prime Minister of the Government of Republic of Srpska, an autonomous entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the beginning of her political career, Cvijanović was an expert member of the Committee of European Integration and Regional Cooperation of the National Assembly of Republic of Srpska. Before politics, she was an English language and literature professor.

Governor-General DameCécile La Grenade

Before becoming Governor-General of Grenada, La Grenade was trained as a food scientist in the United States. She got her Bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of West Indies and her Master’s and Doctorate degree in food science from the University of Maryland at College Park. She was appointed Governor-General the same week the first female Governor of Granada, Dame Hilda Bynoe died.

Erna Solberg

Erna Solberg is the current Prime Minister of Norway. Before becoming a politician, she studied at the University of Bergen. She first became a member of Norway’s parliament in 1989. She also served as a minister of local government and regional government from 2001-2005. As part of the conservative party, she won the 2013 parliamentary elections and was put into office.

Executive President Michelle Bachelet 

Michelle Bachlet is Chile’s first female president. She was first elected into office in 2006 and then re-elected in 2014. Her father was a general in the Chilean Air Force. After going against Augusto Pinochet, he was tortured and died in custody. Bachlet, who was in medical school at the University of Chile at the time, was arrested with her mother and sent to prison where they were both tortured.  After being exiled 1975, they moved to Australia and then East Germany. In 1979, Bachlet returned to Chile and completed her degree. She first got into politics as an adviser to Chile’s Minister of Health in 1994 after working in medical clinics. After working, she joined the Coalition of Parties for Democracy or CPD. In 2002, she became the first woman to lead the defense ministry, and in 2005, the CPD chose her as their presidential candidate. Bachelet left office in 2010 and instead became the head of UN Women. She took office again in 2014.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed

Wajed has served as a prime minister for Bangladesh twice, from 1996-2001 and from 2009 to present. Her father was Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the main orchestrator of Bangladesh’s separation from Pakistan in 1971. She got started in politics in the late 1960s when she served as her father’s, political liaison during his imprisonment. She was briefly detained in 1971. In 1975, Wajeds father, mother, and three brothers were assassinated. As a result, Wajed spent six years in exile. During those six years, she was elected as head of the Awami League, the political organization her father had started in Bangladesh. In 1991, she ran in Bangladesh’s first free general election, but lost to the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). However, after the BNP got accused of voter fraud and after the public boycotted the parliament, the BNP winner gave up her office and another election occurred. Wajed was then elected prime minister in June 1996.

President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca

Marie-Louise Coliero Preca was the ninth president of the Republic of Malta in 2014.  She was the first president of Malta’s parliament to receive unanimous parliamentary support for her nomination. Before becoming president, she was active in politics for 40 years. In fact, she started in politics at 16. She was also elected as General Secretary of the Party for the Labour Party from 1982-1991. This is the highest position held by any woman in any Maltese political party.

Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling

Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling was put into office in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas in 2014.  She previously served as Deputy to the Governor General in 2012. Her late husband was the first Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Sir Lyden Pindining. She was also the 10th Governor General. From 1976 to 1991, she was the chairperson of the Fundraising Committee of The Bahamas’ Red Cross Society. Today, she still helps the Red Cross.

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović

Grabar-Kitarović became the youngest (46 years old) and first female president of Croatia in 2015. Before becoming President, she served as the Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. In 1992, she joined the Croatian Democratic Union. Years later, she was elected to the Croatian Parliament in 2003.

 

Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila has been Prime Minister of Namibia since March 2015. Before that, she was a Master of Finance for 12 years. She got her start in legislation as the General of National Planning Comission from 1995-2003. Intially, she was an econimist at the Office of the President in 1995.

 

PresidentAmeenah Gurib-Fakim

Gurib-Fakim is not only the first woman president of Mauritius, but she is also a chemist and a gardener. She has been the managing director of the Centre International de Développement Pharmaceutique Research and Innovation as well as the Professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Mauritius. She has also authored and co-edited 28 books and multiple book chapters. She was sworn into office in 2015.

President Bidhya Devi Bhandari

Bhandari is Nepal’s first female president and the country’s second president to ever be elected in 2015. Before her presidency, she was served as defence minister from 2009-2011. She is also currently the vice-chair of the ruling Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist). According to the BBC, “As president, she has promised to champion minority and women’s rights in Nepal.”

Prime Minister Beata Szydło

Szydło was elected in 2015 as prime minster after the Law and Justice Party won the majority in the October 2015 election. She entered politics in 1998 at the age of 35 by becoming mayor of Brzeszcze, which she held until 2005. Soon after, she joined the Law and Justice Party. She was elected as the party’s president in 2010. She gained prominence after managing a successful presidential campaign for Andrzej Duda who was elected in May. She was then given the party’s nomination for prime minister.

Premier Katrin Sjögren

Since November 2015, Sjögren has been the prime minister of Åland, an external Finnish territory. Before she was elected to the parliament in 2003, Sjögren was a nurse. Since 2003 she has been a member of  the party known as Liberals for Åland.  She was also Minister of Social Affairs and the Environment in Regional Government from 2007-2011.

President Hilda Heine

Dr. Heine became president of the Marshall Island on January 2016. She is the first woman elected to the position.  Before being elected, she was one of three women in parliament and was also the Education Minister. She was the only candidate on the ballot during the 2016 election. In addition, she was the first citizen of the Marshall Islands to get a Doctorate degree.

State Councilor Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi is currently the state councilor of Myanmar. After speaking out against the dictator U Ne Win and starting nonviolent movements toward gaining democracy and human rights, she was arrested in 1989 and was placed under house arrest. She spent 15 out of 21 years in custody. In 1991, she received a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to overthrow Win.  She was released from house arrest in 2010 and then became a member of parliament for the National League for Democracy party until 2015. That same year, the party won 80% of the votes, allowing them to choose the next president. In 2016 Suu Kyi was chosen to be State Counselor, a position held above the president because it allows her to direct the country’s affairs.

PresidentTsai Ing-wen

Tsai Ing-wen made history on March 20, 2016 when she became Taiwan’s first woman president. She initially ran in 2012, but lost with 45.6 percent of the vote. Ing-wen was chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party (DDP). She started politics when the previous president, Lee Teng-hui, chose a law professor to lead the group of legal experts who were researching and proving that Taiwan was not part of the People’s Republic of China. In 2004, she joined the DDP and was temporarily vice-premier under President Chen Shui-bian. She cleaned up the party’s image in 2008 after Shui-bian’s corruption scandals discredited it.

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