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79 Countries That Have Already Had Their First Female Leader

Just sayin'.

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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.

2. Ceylon/Sri Lanka

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.


5. India

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

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

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


11. Norway

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.)

12. United Kingdom

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.


14. Iceland

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

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.


20. Mongolia

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.

22. Haiti

Thony Belizaire / AFP / Getty Images, / Creative Commons,, 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.


34. Germany

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

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.

36. Moldova

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

37. Croatia

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

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.

53. Latvia

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

54. San Marino

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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.)

57. China

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

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.

60. South Africa / 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.

62. Switzerland

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~.

66. Austria

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

76. Marshall Islands