Election Day Special: Female Heads of State

Today is Election Day here in the United States which got me thinking about the fact that we are one of the few Western nations that has never had a female head of state.  In our 200+ years as a nation, we have had two women run for Vice President, three female Secretaries of State, and one female Speaker of the House.  Yet we still haven’t managed to have a female at the top of the ticket, although we’ve come close.  Here is just salute to some of the female Heads of State in recent history (check out this link on Wikipedia for the complete list of current and former Female Heads of State). Some of these women were the first female heads of state in their countries.  Some came from political dynasties but all fought hard-won elections to become the head of State in their countries.  What surprised me was how many Latin American countries have female Presidents.  Yes, those macho countries have female Presidents!  Here’s hoping that we in the US won’t have to wait to long for a female President.  Here's to 2016!

Golda Meir:  Prime Minister of Israel from 1969 to 1974.  Israel's first and the world's third woman to hold such an office.  Former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion used to call Meir "the best man in the government"; she was often portrayed as the "strong-willed, straight-talking, grey-bunned grandmother of the Jewish people".

 Margaret Thatcher:  Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1979 to 1990.  She is the longest-serving Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of the 20th century and the only woman ever to have held the post.  A Soviet journalist nicknamed her the "Iron Lady", which became associated with her uncompromising politics and leadership style. As Prime Minister, she implemented Conservative policies that have come to be known as Thatcherism.

Indira Gandhi – Prime Minister of India from 1966 to 1977. Third Prime Minister of India for three consecutive terms (1966–77) and a fourth term (1980–84). Gandhi was the second female head of government in the world after Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka, and she remains as the world's second longest serving female Prime Minister as of 2012. She was the first woman to become prime minister in India.

Mary Robinson – President of Ireland from 1990 to 1997. Robinson served as the seventh and first female President of Ireland.  She first rose to prominence as an academic, barrister, campaigner and member of the Irish Senate (1969–1989). She was the first elected president in the office's history not to have had the support of Fianna Fáil.

Corazon Aquino – President of the Philippines from 1986-1992. Aquino was the 11th President of the Philippines, the first woman to hold that office, and the first female president in Asia. She led the 1986 People Power Revolution, which toppled Ferdinand Marcos and restored democracy in the Philippines. She was named "Woman of the Year" in 1986 by Time magazine.

Benazir Bhutto:  Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1988-1990, and from 1996 to 1999.  She was the eldest daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a former prime minister of Pakistan and the founder of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), which she led.  In 1982, at age 29, Benazir Bhutto became the chairwoman of PPP – a center-left, democratic socialist political party, making her the first woman in Pakistan to head a major political party. In 1988, she became the first woman elected to lead a Muslim state and was also Pakistan's first (and thus far, only) female prime minister


Unknown said…
Aside from what you've stated that these women fought hard to be in their respective postions, some of them fought harder still to keep those positions. Like Gandhi, Aquino, and Bhutto, they had to put down civil insurrections and military coup-de-tats left and right, and they made it through armed only with their steely dispositions and strength of will. Margaret Thatcher and others had to fight for their reputations even after their respective terms, and their enemies never relented. Lesser men would've shied away or be caught up in the chaos, but not these women. They should be our paragons for calm conscienciousness despite great adversity, and our models for future women leaders.

Christian Pearson @ LWVofSouthWestNassau.org

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