Figures on the current presence of women in politics around the world present a clear picture of the gender gap. As the Global Gender Gap report testifies, women reach decisive roles, such as heads of state and party leaders, less frequently than men.
While pink quotas have facilitated women’s entry into politics, their climb to success is still tortuous, but not impossible. In fact, women political leaders around the world are achieving encouraging numbers and results, inspiring young women who dream of a career of social engagement.
Since the late 1960s, as many as 80 women have become presidents and premiers, considering the whole world.
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Women premier and head of state currently in power worldwide
Let’s find out who are the women leaders who are putting a new face on international politics.
From French prime minister Élisabeth Borne, to Italian Giorgia Meloni, recently elected in October 2022 as first female premier of Italy, to Finland’s Sanna Marin, who at 37 years old is the youngest PM in the world, there are indeed many women currently holding the role of head of state or government in Europe.
Among the the female leaders in European institutions, Ursula von der Leyen is President of the European Commission, and Roberta Metsola is the President of the European Parliament.
Also in Estonia, a woman is at the very top: Kaja Kallas, premier since January 2021. In Denmark, Mette Frederiksen has been the premier since 2019. While Georgia elected its first female head of state, Salome Zurabishvili, in 2018.
As for Iceland, Katrìn Jakobsdòttir has been the prime minister since 2017. In Lithuania, Ingrida Imonyt has been premier since December 2020. Ana Brnabi has been prime minister of Serbia since 2017. Slovakia’s president since 2019 is Zuzana Caputova, the first woman to be elected head of state in Central and Eastern Europe.
As for monarchic governments, Denmark’s head of state is Queen Margrethe II since 1972. A mention to the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth II was head of state from 1952 to 2022, with an outstanding 70 years of service. The monarch is among the great personalities who died the past year.
As for the US, Kamala Harris is vice president of the United States of America.
In Central America, Paula-Mae Weekes is president of Trinidad and Tobago, in office since 2018. Lawyer Mia Amor Mottley has been the premier of Barbados since 2018.
In Nicaragua, ruled by her husband Daniel Ortega, the vice president is Rosario Murillo, a leading member of the Sandinista Front for National Liberation, the ruling party. No country in South America has female premiers.
In Bangladesh, the leadership of the government is in the hands of Sheikh Hasina Wazed, in office since 2009 and considered one of the world’s most powerful women.
Since 2015, Nepal’s president has been Bidhya Devi Bhandari, a Communist Party leader known for her battles for women’s rights.
In Singapore, since 2017 the president has been a woman, Halimah Yacob, the first to hold the post.
In Ethiopia, the head of state is Sahle-Work Zewde, who was elected in October 2018, the first woman president in the country. A longtime diplomat, until her election she served as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ representative to the African Union.
The first female premier of Togo, Victoire Tomegah Dogbè, was appointed in October 2020. She holds a degree in economics from Togo and gained extensive experience in cooperation, including at the United Nations.
Gabon currently has a female vice president, Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda, since January 9th 2023. Before that role, from 2020 to 2023, she served as prime minister.
In Africa, however, women’s political prominence also comes through representation in parliaments. Rwanda’s parliament ranks first in the world in the number of women, who comprise 56 percent of all MPs.
Very recent, from January 19th 2023, is the sudden resignation of Jacinda Ardern from the role of PM of New Zealand. Ardern was the 40th prime minister of the country.
Leader of the Labour Party since 2017, Arden is an environmentalist and fights against discrimination. Her name has become world famous for her exemplary handling of the Christchurch massacre crisis. Another crisis Arden successfully managed was the Covid-19 pandemic.