back to top

79 Countries That Have Already Had Their First Female Leader

Just sayin'.

Posted on

This list includes heads of government and heads of state, not including monarchs or governors appointed by monarchs. (Sorry, queens!) Where it says "acting", it usually means someone was the vice president or deputy prime minister who took over from a president or prime minister, sometimes for a short amount of time. Also, this list includes some ONLY PARTIALLY RECOGNISED countries and LEADERS YOU MAY CONSIDER BAD, but chill, that's not the point.

1. Pakistan

Benazir Bhutto was prime minister of Pakistan from 1988 to 1990, and again from 1993 to 1996.
DOUGLAS E. CURRAN/AFP / Getty Images

Benazir Bhutto was prime minister of Pakistan from 1988 to 1990, and again from 1993 to 1996.

2. Ceylon/Sri Lanka

Central Press / Hulton Archive / Getty Images
Daniel Berehulak / Getty Images

Sirimavo Bandaranaike was prime minister of Ceylon from 1960 to 1965, making her the first elected female head of government in the modern world, and served again from 1970 to 1977 (during which time the country was renamed Sri Lanka). Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga was prime minister of Sri Lanka in 1994, and then president from 1994 to 2005.

3. Jamaica

Portia Simpson-Miller was prime minister of Jamaica from 2006 to 2007, and again from 2012 to 2016.
Philippe Huguen / AFP / Getty Images

Portia Simpson-Miller was prime minister of Jamaica from 2006 to 2007, and again from 2012 to 2016.

Advertisement

4. Ireland

Patrick Riviere / Getty Images
Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images

Mary Robinson was president of Ireland from 1990 to 1997, and Mary McAleese was president from 1997 to 2011.

5. India

Tim Graham / Fox Photos / Getty Images
Chris Jackson / Getty Images

Indira Gandhi was prime minister of India from 1966 to 1977, and again from 1980 to 1984. Pratibha Patil was president from 2007 to 2012.

6. Bangladesh

Munir Uz Zaman / AFP / Getty Images
Carsten Koall / Getty Images

Khaleda Zia was prime minister of Bangladesh from 1991 to 1996 and 2001 to 2006, and Sheikh Hasina was prime minister from 1996 to 2001 and from 2009 onwards.

7. The Philippines

Mikami / AFP / Getty Images
Carlos Alvarez / Getty Images

Corazon Aquino was president of the Philippines from 1986 to 1992, and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was president from 2001 to 2010.

Advertisement

8. Ukraine

Yulia Tymoshenko was prime minister of Ukraine for most of 2005, and again from 2007 to 2010.
Viktor Drachev / AFP / Getty Images

Yulia Tymoshenko was prime minister of Ukraine for most of 2005, and again from 2007 to 2010.

9. Central African Republic

Elisabeth Domitien was prime minister of the Central African Republic from 1975 to 1976.
upload.wikimedia.org

Elisabeth Domitien was prime minister of the Central African Republic from 1975 to 1976.

10. Turkey

Tansu Ciller was prime minister of Turkey from 1993 to 1996.
Mannie Garcia / AFP / Getty Images

Tansu Ciller was prime minister of Turkey from 1993 to 1996.

11. Norway

Miguel Medina / AFP / Getty Images

Gro Harlem Brundtland was prime minister of Norway from 1986 to 1989 and again from 1990 to 1996, and Erna Solberg has been prime minister since 2013. (Also, Anne Enger Lahnstein was acting prime minister briefly in 1998.)

Advertisement

12. United Kingdom

Leonard Burt / Central Press / Getty Images
Jack Taylor / Getty Images

Margaret Thatcher was prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990, and Theresa May has been prime minister since July 2016. Also, Nicola Sturgeon has been first minister of Scotland since 2014, and Arlene Foster has been first minister of Northern Ireland since January 2016.

13. Senegal

Seyllou / AFP / Getty Images
Seyllou / AFP / Getty Images

Mame Madior Boye was prime minister of Senegal from 2001 to 2002, and Aminata Touré was prime minister from 2013 to 2014.

14. Iceland

Sean Gallup / Getty Images
en.wikipedia.org / Creative Commons

Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir was prime minister of Iceland from 2009 to 2013, and Vigdís Finnbogadóttir was president from 1980 to 1996 – also, Iceland has just elected a new prime minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir.

15. Lithuania

Petras Malukas / AFP / Getty Images
PETRAS MALUKAS / AFP / Getty Images
Jack Taylor / Getty Images

Kazimira Prunskiene was prime minister of Lithuania from 1990 to 1991, Irena Degutienė was acting prime minister twice, briefly, in 1999, and Dalia Grybauskaitė has been president since 2009.

Advertisement

16. Portugal

Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo was prime minister of Portugal from 1979 to 1980.
Keystone / Getty Images

Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo was prime minister of Portugal from 1979 to 1980.

17. France

Édith Cresson was prime minister of France from 1991 to 1992.
Lionel Bonaventure / AFP / Getty Images

Édith Cresson was prime minister of France from 1991 to 1992.

18. Israel

Evening Standard / Getty Images
ERIC FEFERBERG / AFP / Getty Images

Golda Meir was prime minister of Israel from 1969 to 1974, and Dalia Itzik was acting president in 2007.

19. Canada

Christopher Ruppel / Getty Images

Kim Campbell was prime minister of Canada for 132 days in 1993.

Advertisement

20. Mongolia

en.wikipedia.org / Creative Commons

Nyam-Osoryn Tuyaa was very briefly the acting prime minister of Mongolia in July 1999, and Sükhbaataryn Yanjmaa was acting chair of the Presidium of the State Great Khural from 1953 to 1954.

21. Dominica

Dame Eugenia Charles was prime minister of Dominica from 1980 to 1995.
en.wikipedia.org / Creative Commons

Dame Eugenia Charles was prime minister of Dominica from 1980 to 1995.

22. Haiti

Thony Belizaire / AFP / Getty Images, en.wikipedia.org / Creative Commons, uk.pinterest.com, Olivier Morin / AFP / Getty Images

Claudette Werleigh was prime minister of Haiti from 1995 to 1996, Florence Duperval Guillaume was acting prime minister from 2014 to 2015, Ertha Pascal-Trouillot was acting president from 1990 to 1991, and Michèle Pierre-Louis was prime minister from 2008 to 2009.

23. Poland

Janek Skarzynski / AFP / Getty Images
LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP / Getty Images
Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

Hanna Suchocka was prime minister of Poland from 1992 to 1993, Ewa Kopacz was prime minister from 2014 to 2015, and Beata Szydło has been prime minister since 2015.

Advertisement

24. Burundi

Sylvie Kinigi was prime minister of Burundi for 109 days in 1993, and was also acting president from 1993 to 1994.
wordpress.com

Sylvie Kinigi was prime minister of Burundi for 109 days in 1993, and was also acting president from 1993 to 1994.

25. Rwanda

Agathe Uwilingiyimana was prime minister of Rwanda from 1993 to 1994.
en.wikipedia.org / Creative Commons

Agathe Uwilingiyimana was prime minister of Rwanda from 1993 to 1994.

26. Bulgaria

Reneta Indzhova was acting prime minister of Bulgaria from 1994 to 1995.
monitor.bg

Reneta Indzhova was acting prime minister of Bulgaria from 1994 to 1995.

27. Guyana

Janet Jagan was prime minister of Guyana in 1997, then president from 1997 to 1999.
Harry Benson / Getty Images

Janet Jagan was prime minister of Guyana in 1997, then president from 1997 to 1999.

Advertisement

28. New Zealand

Phil Walter / Getty Images
Taylor Hill / Getty Images

Jenny Shipley was prime minister of New Zealand from 1997 to 1999, and Helen Clark was prime minister from 1999 to 2008.

29. São Tomé and Príncipe

Maria das Neves was prime minister of São Tomé and Príncipe from 2002 to 2004, and Maria do Carmo Silveira was prime minister from 2005 to 2006.

30. Finland

Kimmo Mantyla / AFP / Getty Images
ERIC PIERMONT/AFP / Getty Images
PEKKA SAKKI/AFP / Getty Images

Anneli Jäätteenmäki was prime minister of Finland in 2003, Mari Kiviniemi was prime minister from 2010 to 2011, and Tarja Halonen was president from 2000 to 2012.

31. Peru

Jaime Razuri / AFP / Getty Images
en.wikipedia.org / Creative Commons
en.wikipedia.org / Creative Commons

Beatriz Merino was prime minister of Peru in 2003, Rosario Fernández was prime minister in 2011, and Ana Jara was prime minister from 2014 to 2015.

Advertisement

32. Mozambique

Luisa Dias Diogo was prime minister of Mozambique from 2004 to 2010.
Alex Wong / Getty Images

Luisa Dias Diogo was prime minister of Mozambique from 2004 to 2010.

33. Macedonia

Radmila Sekerinska was acting prime minister twice in 2004.
Vasileios Filis / en.wikipedia.org / Creative Commons

Radmila Sekerinska was acting prime minister twice in 2004.

34. Germany

Angela Merkel has been chancellor of Germany since 2005. (Also, Sabine Bergmann-Pohl was president of the People's Chamber of East Germany in 1990.)
Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Angela Merkel has been chancellor of Germany since 2005. (Also, Sabine Bergmann-Pohl was president of the People's Chamber of East Germany in 1990.)

35. South Korea

Jung Yeon-je / AFP / Getty Images
Getty Images
Patrick Hamilton / G20 Australia via Getty Images

Han Myeong-Sook was prime minister of South Korea from 2006 to 2007, and Chang Sang was acting prime minister for 20 days in July 2002. Park Geun-hye has been president since 2013.

Advertisement

36. Moldova

Afp / AFP / Getty Images
VESA MOILANEN/AFP / Getty Images

Zinaida Greceanîi was prime minister of Moldova from 2008 to 2009, and Natalia Gherman was acting prime minister briefly in 2015.

37. Croatia

Jean-christophe Verhaegen / AFP / Getty Images
ELVIS BARUKCIC / AFP / Getty Images

Jadranka Kosor was prime minister of Croatia from 2009 to 2011, and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović has been president since 2015.

38. Madagascar

Cécile Manorohanta was acting prime minister of Madagascar very briefly in 2009.
latribune.cyber-diego.com

Cécile Manorohanta was acting prime minister of Madagascar very briefly in 2009.

39. Trinidad and Tobago

Kamla Persad-Bissessar was prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago from 2010 to 2015.
Andrew Burton / Getty Images

Kamla Persad-Bissessar was prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago from 2010 to 2015.

Advertisement

40. Australia

Julia Gillard was prime minister for Australia from 2010 to 2013.
Cameron Spencer / Getty Images

Julia Gillard was prime minister for Australia from 2010 to 2013.

41. Slovakia

Iveta Radičová was prime minister for Slovakia from 2010 to 2012.
Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Iveta Radičová was prime minister for Slovakia from 2010 to 2012.

42. Mali

Cissé Mariam Kaïdama Sidibé was prime minister of Mali from 2011 to 2012.
Daniel Berehulak / Getty Images

Cissé Mariam Kaïdama Sidibé was prime minister of Mali from 2011 to 2012.

43. Panama

Mireya Moscoso was president of Panama from 1999 to 2004.
Teresita Chavarria / AFP / Getty Images

Mireya Moscoso was president of Panama from 1999 to 2004.

Advertisement

44. Indonesia

Megawati Sukarnoputri was president of Indonesia from 2001 to 2004.
Choo Youn-kong / AFP / Getty Images

Megawati Sukarnoputri was president of Indonesia from 2001 to 2004.

45. Thailand

Yingluck Shinawatra was prime minister of Thailand from 2011 to 2014.
Lukas Coch-Pool / Getty Images

Yingluck Shinawatra was prime minister of Thailand from 2011 to 2014.

46. Slovenia

Alenka Bratusek was prime minister of Slovenia from 2013 to 2014.
Dean Mouhtaropoulos / Getty Images

Alenka Bratusek was prime minister of Slovenia from 2013 to 2014.

47. Kyrgyzstan

Roza Otunbayeva was president of Kyrgyzstan from 2010 to 2011.
Vyacheslav Oseledko / AFP / Getty Images

Roza Otunbayeva was president of Kyrgyzstan from 2010 to 2011.

Advertisement

48. Liberia

Ellen Johnson Sirlead has been president of Libera since 2006. Before her, Ruth Perry was the interim chairwoman for the Council of State of Liberia (making her the head of state) from 1996 to 1997.
bu.edu

Ellen Johnson Sirlead has been president of Libera since 2006. Before her, Ruth Perry was the interim chairwoman for the Council of State of Liberia (making her the head of state) from 1996 to 1997.

49. Denmark

Helle Thorning-Schmidt was prime minister of Denmark from 2011 to 2015.
Henning Bagger / AFP / Getty Images

Helle Thorning-Schmidt was prime minister of Denmark from 2011 to 2015.

50. Guinea-Bissau

Adiato Djaló Nandigna was acting prime minister of Guinea-Bissau in 2012, and Carmen Pereira was acting president very briefly in 1984.

51. The Bahamas

Cynthia Pratt, also known as "Mother", was acting prime minister of the Bahamas from May to June 2005. Before that, she was deputy PM for five years.
bahamas.gov.bs

Cynthia Pratt, also known as "Mother", was acting prime minister of the Bahamas from May to June 2005. Before that, she was deputy PM for five years.

Advertisement

52. Myanmar

Aung San Suu Kyi has been state counsellor (the de facto head of government) of Myanmar since April 2016.
Suzanne Plunkett / Wpa Pool / Getty Images

Aung San Suu Kyi has been state counsellor (the de facto head of government) of Myanmar since April 2016.

53. Latvia

Thierry Charlier / AFP / Getty Images
Leigh Vogel / Getty Images for Concordia Summit

Laimdota Straujuma was prime minister of Latvia from 2014 to 2016, and Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga was president from 1999 to 2007.

54. San Marino

Maria Lea Pedini-Angelini was captain regent (the head of state) of San Marino in 1981, at age 26. Gloriana Ranocchini was captain regent in 1984 and from 1989 to 1990, Edda Ceccoli from 1991 to 1992, Patrizia Busignani in 1993, Rosa Zafferani in 1999, Maria Domenica Michelotti in 2000, Valeria Ciavatta from 2003 to 2004, Fausta Morganti in 2005, Rosa Zafferani in 2008, Assunta Meloni from 2008 to 2009, Maria Luisa Berti in 2011, Denise Bronzetti from 2012 to 2013, Antonella Mularoni in 2013, Anna Maria Muccioli from 2013 to 2014, Valeria Ciavatta in 2014, and Lorella Stefanelli from 2015 to 2016.(Shout-out to San Marino.)
Twitter: @joumanagebara

Maria Lea Pedini-Angelini was captain regent (the head of state) of San Marino in 1981, at age 26. Gloriana Ranocchini was captain regent in 1984 and from 1989 to 1990, Edda Ceccoli from 1991 to 1992, Patrizia Busignani in 1993, Rosa Zafferani in 1999, Maria Domenica Michelotti in 2000, Valeria Ciavatta from 2003 to 2004, Fausta Morganti in 2005, Rosa Zafferani in 2008, Assunta Meloni from 2008 to 2009, Maria Luisa Berti in 2011, Denise Bronzetti from 2012 to 2013, Antonella Mularoni in 2013, Anna Maria Muccioli from 2013 to 2014, Valeria Ciavatta in 2014, and Lorella Stefanelli from 2015 to 2016.

(Shout-out to San Marino.)

55. Namibia

Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila has been prime minister of Namibia since 2015.
Hildegard Titus / AFP / Getty Images

Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila has been prime minister of Namibia since 2015.

Advertisement

56. Greece

Vassiliki Thanou was acting prime minister briefly in 2015.
Louisa Gouliamaki / AFP / Getty Images

Vassiliki Thanou was acting prime minister briefly in 2015.

57. China

Ching-ling Soong, also known as Madame Sun Yat-sen, was the acting co-chair of China (the head of state) from 1968 to 1972, and was named "honorary president" in 1981.
Pictorial Parade / Getty Images

Ching-ling Soong, also known as Madame Sun Yat-sen, was the acting co-chair of China (the head of state) from 1968 to 1972, and was named "honorary president" in 1981.

58. Argentina

en.wikipedia.org / Creative Commons
DANIEL GARCIA / AFP / Getty Images

Isabel Martínez de Perón was president of Argentina from 1974 to 1976 – and the first female president anywhere in the world. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was president of Argentina from 2007 to 2015.

59. Bolivia

Lidia Gueiler Tejada was acting president of Bolivia from 1979 to 1980.
en.wikipedia.org / Creative Commons

Lidia Gueiler Tejada was acting president of Bolivia from 1979 to 1980.

Advertisement

60. South Africa

Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri was acting president of South Africa for approximately 14 hours in 2008...which is still more time with a female head of state than certain countries have had.
en.wikipedia.org / Creative Commons

Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri was acting president of South Africa for approximately 14 hours in 2008...which is still more time with a female head of state than certain countries have had.

61. Malta

commons.wikimedia.org / Creative Commons
ARMEND NIMANI / AFP / Getty Images

Agatha Barbara was president of Malta from 1982 to 1987, and Marie Louise Coleiro Preca has been president since 2014.

62. Switzerland

commons.wikimedia.org / Creative Commons
TIM CLARY/AFP / Getty Images
en.wikipedia.org / Creative Commons

Elisabeth Kopp was the first female member of the Swiss Federal Council from 1984 to 1989, a seven-member council that serves as the country's joint head of state, which Ruth Dreifuss also served on from 1993 to 2002, Ruth Metzler-Arnold from 1999 to 2003, Micheline Calmy-Rey from 2003 to 2011, Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf from 2008 to 2015, Doris Leuthard since 2006, and Simonetta Sommaruga since 2010. Shout-out to Switzerland for being ~a little bit different~.

63. Nicaragua

Violeta Chamorro was president of Nicaragua from 1990 to 1997.
Paolo Bosio / AFP / Getty Images

Violeta Chamorro was president of Nicaragua from 1990 to 1997.

Advertisement

64. Ecuador

Rosalía Arteaga Serrano was the acting president of Ecuador for two days in 1997. (It still counts!)
en.wikipedia.org / Creative Commons

Rosalía Arteaga Serrano was the acting president of Ecuador for two days in 1997. (It still counts!)

65. Georgia

Nino Burjanadze was acting president of Georgia from 2003 to 2004, and again from 2007 to 2008.
ALEXANDER TARAN / AFP / Getty Images

Nino Burjanadze was acting president of Georgia from 2003 to 2004, and again from 2007 to 2008.

66. Austria

Dieter Nagl / AFP / Getty Images
DIETER NAGL / AFP / Getty Images

Barbara Prammer was co-acting president of Austria for two days in 2004, and Doris Bures has been co-acting president since July 2016.

67. Chile

Michelle Bachelet was president of Chile from 2006 to 2010, and has been the incumbent again since 2014.
Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Michelle Bachelet was president of Chile from 2006 to 2010, and has been the incumbent again since 2014.

Advertisement

68. Gabon

Rose Francine Rogombe was acting president of Gabon in 2009.
WILS YANICK MANIENGUI / AFP / Getty Images

Rose Francine Rogombe was acting president of Gabon in 2009.

69. Costa Rica

Laura Chinchilla was president of Costa Rica from 2010 to 2014.
Yuri Cortez / AFP / Getty Images

Laura Chinchilla was president of Costa Rica from 2010 to 2014.

70. Brazil

Dilma Rousseff was president of Brazil from 2011 to 2016.
Mario Tama / Getty Images

Dilma Rousseff was president of Brazil from 2011 to 2016.

71. Kosovo

Atifete Jahjaga was president of Kosovo from 2011 to 2016.
Jp Yim / Getty Images

Atifete Jahjaga was president of Kosovo from 2011 to 2016.

Advertisement

72. Mauritius

SIMON MAINA / AFP / Getty Images

Monique Ohsan Bellepeau was acting president of Mauritius in 2012, and Ameenah Gurib has been president since 2015.

73. Serbia

Slavica Đukić Dejanović was acting president of Serbia in 2012.
en.wikipedia.org / Creative Commons

Slavica Đukić Dejanović was acting president of Serbia in 2012.

74. Malawi

Joyce Banda was president of Malawi from 2012 to 2014.
AMOS GUMULIRA / AFP / Getty Images

Joyce Banda was president of Malawi from 2012 to 2014.

75. Central African Republic

Catherine Samba-Panza was acting president of the Central African Republic from 2014 to 2016.
Emmanuel Dunand / AFP / Getty Images

Catherine Samba-Panza was acting president of the Central African Republic from 2014 to 2016.

Advertisement

76. Marshall Islands

Hilda Heine has been president of the Marshall Islands since January 2016.
Dominick Reuter / AFP / Getty Images

Hilda Heine has been president of the Marshall Islands since January 2016.

77. Nepal

Bidhya Bhandari has been president of Nepal since 2015.
Prakash Mathema / AFP / Getty Images

Bidhya Bhandari has been president of Nepal since 2015.

78. Taiwan

Tsai Ing-wen has been president of Taiwan since May 2016.
Ulet Ifansasti / Getty Images

Tsai Ing-wen has been president of Taiwan since May 2016.

79. Estonia

Kersti Kaljulaid has been president of Estonia since October 2016.
Raigo Pajula / AFP / Getty Images

Kersti Kaljulaid has been president of Estonia since October 2016.