While women rulers have led great empires as hereditary monarchs since ancient times, the first appointed female head of state didn't take office until 1960, when Sirivamo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka became the world's first female elected Premier, serving as head of the government. In 1974, Isabel Peron was secretly sworn in as President of Argentina following the death of her husband, Argentinian strongman Juan Peron, becoming the first woman in history to hold the top position of power.
Since then, it's become more and more common for women to be elected as the leaders of their nations. Many of the most powerful countries on earth, including Germany, India, Brazil, South Korea, Israel, Chile, and the United Kingdom have elected or appointed women as their heads of state. These women presidents and prime ministers have had command of nuclear weapons, powerful economies, vast populations, and - most importantly - the respect of their people.
Here is the complete list of current presidents or heads of government who are women.
President of Zimbabwe since 2018Sahle-Work Zewde, a native of Ethiopia, currently serves as the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi. She was appointed to this position by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 11 March 2011 and is the first person to hold the post at the level of Under-Secretary-General. By judgment dated 31 July 2012, the United Nations Dispute Tribunal criticized Zewde, because "she continued to lead UNON management to wallow in its disobedience and impunity". Prior to her appointment with UNON, Zewde served as Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic. Previously, she also held a number of... more
Elected as Prime Minister of New Zealand in 2017.Jacinda Kate Laurell Ardern (; born 26 July 1980) is a New Zealand politician serving since 26 October 2017 as the 40th Prime Minister of New Zealand. She has also served as the Leader of the Labour Party since 1 August 2017. Ardern has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Mount Albert electorate since 8 March 2017; she was first elected to the House of Representatives as a list MP at the 2008 general election.After graduating from the University of Waikato in 2001, Ardern began her career working as a researcher in the office of Prime Minister Helen Clark. She later worked in the United Kingdom as a policy advisor to British Prime Minister Tony Blair. In 2008, she was elected... more
- Birthplace: Hamilton, New Zealand
Elected as Prime Minister of Iceland in 2017.Katrín Jakobsdóttir (pronounced [ˈkʰaːtrin ˈjaːkʰɔpstouhtɪr]; born 1 February 1976) is an Icelandic politician serving as the 28th and current Prime Minister of Iceland since 2017. She is the member of the Althing for the Reykjavík North constituency since 2007. She became deputy chairperson of the Left-Green Movement in 2003 and has been their chairperson since 2013. Katrín was Iceland's Minister of Education, Science and Culture and of Nordic Co-operation from 2 February 2009 to 23 May 2013. She is Iceland's second female prime minister after Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir. ... more
- Birthplace: Reykjavik, Iceland
- Nationality: Iceland
- Photo: Office of the President of the Republic of China / Wikimedia Commons / Government Website Open Information AnnouncementPresident of the Republic of China since 2016Tsai Ing-wen (Peh-oe-ji: Chhòa Eng-bûn, [t͡sʰua˧˩ ɪŋbun˨˦], born 31 August 1956) is a Taiwanese politician and professor who is serving as the President of the Republic of China, commonly known as Taiwan, since May 20, 2016. The first woman to be elected to the office, Tsai is the seventh president of the Republic of China under the 1947 Constitution and the second president from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP); part of Taiwan's Pan-Green Coalition. She is also the first president to be of both Hakka and aboriginal descent (a quarter Paiwan from her grandmother), the first unmarried president, the first to have never held an elected executive post before presidency and the first to... more
- Birthplace: Fangshan, Pingtung