Friday, January 22, 2010

Sirimavo Bandaranaike (1916-2000)
Prime minister of Sri Lanka three times: from 21 Jul 1960 to 27 Mar 1965, from 29 May 1970 to 23 Jul 1977 and from 14 Nov 1994 to 10 Aug 2000. First woman prime minister in world history and probably the oldest female political leader in active by the time of her demise. Widow of Solomon Bandaranaike, prime minister in 1956 and assassinated in office in 1959. She received her third government mandate from her own daughter, Chandrika Kumaratunga, who was to be sworn in as president by then. This was the first time in history that a woman succeeded another woman by elections.

Indira Gandhi (1917-1984)
Prime minister of India twice, from 19 Jan 1966 to 24 Mar 1977 and from 14 Jan 1980 to her assassination on 31 Oct 1984. Second generation of the Nehru-Gandhi saga, her father Jawaharlal Nehru ruled India from the independence in 1947 to his death in 1964. Her younger son and political heir, Sanjay, had passed away in plane crash in 1980, so elder Rajiv assumed the leadership of the Congress Party and, automathically, the premiership. In 1991 Rajiv, two years after leaving the Government, suffered the same fate than his mother and was assassinated as well. Currently the widow of Rajiv and daughter-in-law of Indira, Sonia Gandhi, leads the party and the opposition to the nationalist Government.

Golda Meir (1898-1978)
Prime minister of Israel from 17 Mar 1969 to 3 Jun 1974 and third women in the world to reach that post behind Sri Lanka's Sirimavo Bandaranaike (1960) and India's Indira Gandhi (1966).

Elisabeth Domitien (1926-2005)
Prime minister of the Central African Republic from 3 Jan 1975 to 7 Apr 1976, as first holder of the just created post of premier upon decision of dictator Jean-Bedel Bokassa. She came up to local politics in early 70s, by 1972 she was given the vicepresidency of the only legal party, the Movement for the Social Evolution of Black Africa (MESAN), and from 1975 ruled as vicepresident of the Republic. In Apr 1976, following some statements of Bokassa favouring the monarchy for the CAR, Domitien publicly spoke out against such a project, so Bokassa fired her on the spot. After Bokassa's ousting in 1979, Domitien was briefly imprisioned and in 1980 was put on trial. Impeded to remain active in politcs, she retained a high profile at home and abroad as an influential businesswoman. Next to nobody knows, but she was Africa's first woman prime minister and the first black woman ruler of an independent State. Nevertheless, it must be said that Empress Zauditu ruled on Ethiopia from 1917 to 1930 and 'Mantsebo Amelia 'Matsaba Sempe was Queen-Regent of Lesotho from 1941 to 1960, albeit under colonial rule. Another Queen-Regent of Lesotho, 'MaMohato Tabitha 'Masentle Lerotholi, served for first time briefly in 1970, four years after the independence.

Margaret Thatcher (1925-)
Prime minister of the United Kingdom from 4 May 1979 to 28 Nov 1990. First woman elected ruler in Europe. 

Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo (1930-2004)
Prime minister of Portugal from 1 Aug 1979 to 3 Jan 1980.

Mary Eugenia Charles (1919-2005)
Prime minister of Dominica from 21 Jul 1980 to 14 Jun 1995. Second black woman ruler in the world behind Central Africa's Elisabeth Domitien, first Caribbean (and American) female premier and third American female ruler.

Gro Harlem Brundtland (1939-)
Prime minister of Norway three times: from 4 Feb to 14 Oct 1981, from 9 May 1986 to 16 Oct 1989 and from 3 Nov 1990 to 25 Oct 1996. She currently serves as as chief of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Milka Planinc (1924-)
Federal prime minister of former Socialist Yugoslavia from 16 May 1982 to 15 May 1986. The only (and probably the last) woman premier of a communist country in history.

Benazir Bhutto (1953-2007)
Prime Minister of Pakistan twice, from 2 Dec 1988 to 6 Aug 1990, and again from 19 Oct 1993 to 5 Nov 1996. The first woman prime minister of a muslim country, she was daughter of former ruler Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (president in 1971-1973 and prime minister in 1972-1977), who was overthrown in 1977 and executed by the military regime of general Zia ul-Haq in 1979. Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in Rawalpindi on 27 Dec 2007.

Kazimiera Danutë Prunskienë (1943-)
Prime minister of Lithuania from 17 Mar 1990 to 10 Jan 1991.

Khaleda Zia (1945-)
Prime minister of Bangladesh from 20 Mar 1991 to 30 Mar 1996 and again from 10 Oct 2001 to 29 Oct 2006. She is the widow of the late dictator Ziaur Rahman, assassinated in 1981.

Edith Cresson (1934-)
Prime minister of France from 15 May 1991 to 2 Apr 1992.

Hanna Suchocka (1946-)
Prime minister of Poland from 8 Jul 1992 to 26 Oct 1993.

Kim Campbell (1947-)
Prime minister of Canada from 25 Jun to 5 Nov 1993. First woman ruler in North America.

Tansu Çiller (1946-)
Prime minister of Turkey from 25 Jun 1993 to 7 Mar 1996. She belongs to the reduced but notable group of women rulers in muslim countries, along with Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto, Bangladesh' Hasina Wajed and Khaleda Zia, and Indonesia's Megawati Sukarnoputri.

Sylvie Kinigi (1952?-)
Prime minister of Burundi from 10 Jul 1993 to 11 Feb 1994. Kinigi's brief tenure lasted in a very critical period in Burundi's contemporary history. When the just democratically elected president Melchior Ndadaye, an ethnic hutu, and other senior cabinet members were killed on 21 Oct 1993 by tutsi military plotters, Kinigi, a moderate member of the tutsi-based National Party for Unity and Progress (UPRONA), could preserve her life by sheltering in the French embassy at Bujumbura. During six chaotic days her performance was decisive to terminate the crisis and restore the order: her Government assumed collectively the presidential functions, she successfully called for the international powers to support her and additionally gained the loyalty of most of the Army officers, which distanced itself from the rebel Junta. In fact, Kinigi continued acting as president until the takeover of president Cyprien Ntaryamira on 5 Feb 1994.

Agathe Uwilingiyimana (1953-1994)
Prime minister of Rwanda from 18 Jul 1993 to her death on 7 Apr 1994. After heading during almost a year a precarious but promising coalition cabinet -the presidential and hutu-based National Revolutionary Movement (MRN), the tutsi guerrilla rebels' Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR) and her moderate and multiethnic Rwandan Democratic Movement (MDR)-, the hutu radicals began a massive killing of tutsi people and moderate hutus, taking as excuse the obscure assassination of president Juvenal Habyarimana, on 6 Apr Mrs. Uwilingiyimana was one of the first personalities eliminated by the armed militias. No other world woman ruler had lost her life during a rebellion at the moment, but India's Indira Gandhi also died in violent circumstances ten years before.

Chandrika Kumaratunga (1945-)
Prime minister of Sri Lanka from 19 Aug to Nov 1994. See more at the Presidents' page.

Reneta Indzhova (1953-)
Interim prime minister of Bulgaria from 16 Oct 1994 to 25 Jan 1995.

Claudette Werleigh (1944-)
Prime minister of Haiti from 7 Nov 1995 to 27 Feb 1996.

Sheikh Hasina Wajed (1947-)
Prime minister of Bangladesh twice, from 23 Jun 1996 to 15 Jul 2001 and again since 6 Jan 2009.

Janet Jagan (1920-2009)
Prime minister of Guyana from 17 Mar 1997 to December 19, 1997. See more at the Presidents' page.

Jenny Shipley (1952-)
Prime minister of New Zealand from 8 Dec 1997 to 10 Dec 1999. Shipley was not only the first woman ruler in New Zealand (aside from former governor-general Catherine Tizard, with token duties), but in an independent state of South Pacific/Oceania as well.

Irena Degutienë (1949-)
Acting prime minister of Lithuania twice, from 4 to 18 May 1999 and from 27 Oct to 3 Nov 1999. Second Lithuanian premier behind Kazimiera Prunskiene in early 90s.

Nyam-Osoriyn Tuyaa (1958-)
Acting prime minister of Mongolia from 22 to 30 Jul 1999,

Helen Elizabeth Clark (1950-)
On 10 Dec 1999 Helen Clark became the second consecutive woman prime minister of New Zealand, succeeding Jenny Shipley. She left office on 19 Nov 2008.

Mame Madior Boye (1940-)
Prime minister of Senegal from 3 Mar 2001 to 4 Nov 2002.

Chang Sang (1939-)
Acting and ephemeral prime minister of South Korea in 2002: from 11 Jul, by appointment of president Kim Dae Jung, to 31 Jul, when the Parliament rejected her.

Maria das Neves Ceita Baptista de Sousa
Prime minister of São Tomé and Príncipe from 7 Oct 2002 to 16 Jul 2003, when was deposed, together with president Fradique de Menezes, in a military coup.

Anneli Tuulikki Jäätteenmäki (1955-)
Prime minister of Finland from 17 Apr to 24 Jun 2003. The country's first -and ephemeral- woman premier.

Beatriz Merino Lucero (1948-)
Prime minister of Peru from 28 Jun to 15 Dec 2003.

Luísa Dias Diogo (1958-)
Prime minister of Mozambique from 17 Feb 2004.

Radmila Sekerinska (1972-)
Acting prime minister of Macedonia twice in 2004, from 12 May to 12 Jun and from 18 Nov to 17 Dec.

Yuliya Tymoshenko (1960-)
Prime minister of Ukraine twice, from 24 Jan to 8 Sep 2005 and again since 18 Dec 2007.

Maria do Carmo Silveira
Prime minister of São Tomé and Príncipe from 8 Jun 2005 to 21 Apr 2006.

Angela Merkel (1954-)
Federal Chancellor of Germany from 22 Nov 2005.

Portia Simpson-Miller (1945-)
Prime Minister of Jamaica from 30 Mar 2006 to 11 Sep 2007.

Han Myung Sook (1944-)
Prime minister of South Korea from 19 Apr 2006 to 7 Mar 2007.

Zinaida Greceanii (1956-)
Prime minister of Moldova from 31 Mar 2008 to 14 Sep 2009.

Michèle Pierre-Louis (1947-)
Prime minister of Haiti from 5 Sep 2008 to 11 Nov 2009.

Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir (1942-)
Prime minister of Iceland since 1 Feb 2009.

Jadranka Kosor (1953-)
Prime minister of Croatia since 6 Jul 2009.

Cécile Manorohanta
Prime minister of Madagascar from 18 to 20 Dec 2009.

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