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Here are the Women Who Run the World Right Now

Here are the Women Who Run the World Right Now

Pop Quiz: how many female heads of state are currently holding office?

The answer is 20. They serve around the globe in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. So let’s name names and learn a fun fact or two about the women who help run the world.

Female leadership in Africa has existed for some time. Lately women have been seen as a solution to the brash decisions of male leaders, which can result in years of war. Indeed, many of these women were elected thanks to their levelheaded responses to conflict:

  • President and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Edith Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia was elected after helping bring an end to the devastating civil war that tore the country in two.
  • Dr. Joyce Banda of Malawi was elected at a contentious time of instability, and has helped transition the country back to calm.
  • Catherine Samba-Panza of the Central African Republic is the newest female president in the world. Elected to lead the CAR out of civil war, she was one of the only candidates that refused to take bribes during elections.
  • Prime Minister Aminata Touré of Senegal has worked to pursue several corruption cases against high ranking officials while working on woman’s rights initiatives.

In the Latin American and the Caribbean, there are five female heads of state. While not all agree on issues such as abortion or separation of church and state, there is a very common thread of development running through their platforms.

  • President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina follows in the footsteps of Eva Peron, one of her noted influences, increasing protectionism and attention to state-owned enterprises.
  • President Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica, while adamantly Catholic, has signed laws for civil unions between same-sex couples and stated she would not oppose gay marriage if the people called for it.
  • Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar of Trinidad and Tobago, sometimes called Aunty Kamla, is heralded as being ‘Trini to da bone.’
  • President Dilma Roussef of Brazil, who was once jailed and tortured for her political leanings, now enjoys high popularity ratings thanks to her tax reductions.
  • Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller of Jamaica is the first governmental figure in her country to fully endorse civil rights for LGBT Jamaicans.

In Asia, where women are all too often thought of as subservient, three female heads of have taken the lead. Their faiths and ideas range tremendously, but they’ve shown themselves to be as competent, and corrupt, as many other world leaders.

  • Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra of Thailand came in on a platform of trade, although she is now facing corruption charges.
  • Bangladesh’s Sheikh Hasina Wajed has faced assassination attempts in her four decades of political service. She is now in her third term as Prime Minister.
  • South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye has put the issues sexual and domestic violence on the national agenda.

In Greater Europe, eight women have made it into the highest office. As many of these countries enjoy equitable rights and high levels of education among women, it’s interesting to imagine what the world would look like if such rights and education were extended to women and girls throughout the globe.

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel, well known and respected for her work on trade and finance.
  • President Dalia Grybauskaite of Lithuania has staunchly supported human rights, threatening to boycott Sochi.
  • President Atifete Jahjaga of Kosovo strengthened women’s issues, giving legal protections to those raped during war.
  • Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt of Denmark has rolled back anti-immigration laws and instituted tax reform.
  • Slovenia’s Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek has worked to ensure religious freedom.
  • President Sibel Siber of North Cyprus has been working to bring agreement about in her divided nation.
  • Prime Minister Erna Solberg hosted the Millennium Development Goals forum at Davos, with a focus on education and empowerment of girls worldwide.
  • And perhaps with the best title of all, Captain Regent Anna Maria Muccioli is the 15th woman to hold head of state in the small nation of San Marino. They are the world leader of electing women to their highest office.

For as many countries as there are on Earth (196 to be exact), having 20 female leaders is an incredibly low percentage. However, speaking historically, these women are making a monumental shift towards a new era. And for the girls being raised in these female-led countries, it sends a very clear message that regardless of gender, the highest ranking political office in the nation belongs to everyone.


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8:17AM PST on Feb 26, 2014

Thanks for sharing!

3:08AM PST on Feb 26, 2014

same message, but i am correcting a spelling mistake!
Good article highlighting strong women, but isn't a little sad that out of hundreds of leaders/ countries there are only 20 women doing it?

3:06AM PST on Feb 26, 2014

Good article highlighting strong women, but isn't a little sad that out of hundreds of leaders/ countries theer are only 20 women doing it?

12:49AM PST on Feb 26, 2014

"Small countries like New Zealand with very small scattered populations may have had more open-minded humanistic men" Australia achieved the same results back in the 1970's women working with men to change the quote all this history and hostilities between men and women that is just "war"'s all about educating people.both men and women that helps the move towards a more equal system..I have had no problem in the "Corporate" world and out earned/out titled my older male counterparts..they respected me as a person who was qualified for the job. Haven't really been following what has been happening in Spain..but most of the regression happening around the world in Women's Reproductive Rights..stems back to Religion..which is actually a different topic.. "She´s weak and like her predecessor, Evita, this is making her ill". Now you are Judge and Jury in your perception of how a "woman" should must be really powerful, successful, rich and strong to suggest that they are "weaker" than you. That's why it takes so long for change..we have to battle the women first..

2:58PM PST on Feb 25, 2014

I'd put Janet Yellen and Christine LeGarde on this list - they run the most powerful financial organizations - everyone knows that whoever holds the purse strings holds the power.

8:45AM PST on Feb 25, 2014

I love it, thanks for writing :D

12:23AM PST on Feb 25, 2014

thank you!

2:47PM PST on Feb 24, 2014


12:53PM PST on Feb 24, 2014

Ros, you still don´t seem to want to understand that thousands of years of personal and political enslavement has caused women to be timid and afraid, and with good reason. Women´s group tried to get political freedom back in the 1860´s but were laughed to scorn at their applications for rights. The same thing happened to the Suffragettes 40 years later with the Suffragettes, but they didn´t give up. They battled on, were arrested, criminally force-fed when they went on hunger strikes in jail to protest their arrestation, and also scorned and humiliated in every way by supposedly civilized politicians and their own male family members and husbands.
Women didn´t just snap their fingers and had the doors of freedom fly open. Small countries like New Zealand with very small scattered populations may have had more open-minded humanistic men, because for agrarian work, men needed every hand´s assistance, including women´s, to prosper.Whatever, very few know of their egalitarian attitudes toward women.
Except in ancient Egypt, all countries in written history were patriarchies, where women had some emotional power, but very little legal or physical presence. Outside of certain queens and heroines, most women were like indentured servants or worse. Women had long forgotten their matriarchal civilizations because men had wiped the memory from their brains. Thousands of years without legal rights will do that. Even a few hundred would do it

12:23PM PST on Feb 24, 2014

The world is changing, slowly, but in the right direction. Today, 20 countries out of 196, but by the time our daughters grow up, I hope the numbers look much better.

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