Top 10 Contemporary Female Heads Of State
While many citizens of the world associate power and control with a male holding the reigns of office, Modern Treatise is here to present you with the top ten women heads of state. This list was made to examine the exceptionalism that women politicians from around the world have been able to accomplish. Some of these women were controversial, tough and willing to do whatever they needed to do in order to make their countries thrive.
10. Cristina Fernandez de Kincher: Cristina Fernandez de Kincher was the 52nd and current President of Argentina. Prior to her presidency, she served one term as National Deputy and three terms as National Senator for both Santa Cruz and Buenos Aires provinces. She is also the widow of former president Néstor Kirchner.
During her first year as president, 2007, Argentina's relations with the United States was severely affected as a result of allegations made by an Assistant United States Attorney of illegal campaign contributions, in a case known as the maletinazo. In her second year she introduced a new sliding-scale taxation system for agricultural exports, effectively raising levies on soybean exports from 35% to 44%. This would result in a nation wide located by the farming association. In her third year she lost the absolute majority in both houses of Congress, which would cause the loss of a further 24 seats in the Lower House and 4 in the Senate. They lost in the four most important electoral districts.
She began her third year with controversy after she ordered that a US$6.7 billion escrow account be opened at the Central Bank. She wanted to retire high-interest bonds, whose principal is tied to inflation, but her motives were quickly pressured as Central Bank president Martín Redrado, refused the proposal.
Although she was the first female president, many had criticized her, and it is believed that her department is involved with corruption, crony capitalism, falsification of public statistics, and harassment of Argentina's independent media.
9. Yingluck Shinawatra: Yingluck Shinawatra is the 28th Prime Minister of Thailand. She is also a Thai businesswoman and politician, and a member of the Pheu Thai Party. She went up for election in 2011 and her political campaign consisted of lobbying for national reconciliation, poverty eradication, and corporate income tax reduction. She was voted unanimously on a landslide.
Her time in office consisted of working on flood damage reduction procedures or working on switching out her cabinet, but she was most known for her investigation that resulted from her involvement in a rice-pledging scheme, which was discovered because two of her cabinet members were involved. She denied any allegations.
She was then dismissed from office in 2014 because of her involvement in the unconstitutional transfer of a top security officer, Thawil Pliensri, as National Security Council secretary-general. She was then also indicted for the alleged involvement in the rice-pledging scheme. She is currently on trial for her actions in office.
8. Megawati Setiawati Soekarnoputri: Megawati Setiawati Soekarnoputri served as president of Indonesia from 23 July, 2001 to 20 October, 2004. Megawati still remains Indonesia's only female president and the fourth woman to lead a predominantly Muslim nation.
She served as the vice-president under Abdurrahman Wahid. She would then became president when Wahid was removed from office back in 2001. She ran for re-election in the 2004 presidential election, but was defeated by Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. She attempted to go after the office again in the 2009 presidential election, but she lost again to Yudhoyono.
Her Presidency was welcomed because she opposed the Suharto regime, which was the long ruling organization, but many saw indecisiveness and unclarity while she was attempting to work on the state of the nation. Her slow moving nature did allow time for policies to go under review and to not be rushed, but her time in office did not leave any solid impact on the country. She lost her re-election campaign in 2009, and did not attend the new president’s, Yudhoyono's, inauguration.
7. Yulia Tymoshenko: Yulia Tymoshenko was the first woman appointed Prime Minister of Ukraine. She also co-led the Orange Revolution, a movement that consisted of a series of protests throughout Ukraine because of miscounting during elections and polls.
She ran for presidency in Ukraine back in 2010, but came in second after Petro Poroshenko. Shortly after her campaign she was brought up on charges which convicted the politician of embezzlement and abuse of power, and she was sentenced to seven years in prison and ordered to pay the state $188 million.
Tymoshenko is also currently the leader of the All-Ukrainian Union "Fatherland" political party, which holds 19 seats in parliament. She is striving for Ukraine's integration into the European Union, while opposing the membership of Ukraine in the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia.
6. Dilma Rousseff: Dilma Rouseff was the 36th and current President of Brazil, and she was previously the Chief of Staff of the President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. She first assumed office in 2011 and still is holding her position.
Rouseff has changed the members of her cabinet members four times, and has become President, which promoted the highest number of cabinet changes in the first six months of government.
She is seen as a very popular leader throughout Brazil and in a recent poll in 2013, she was approved by 63 percent of Brazilian citizens, and held a personal approval rating of 79%.
Although she was seen as a favored leader her time in office has opened doors to controversy as she pushed to complete a number of hydroelectric dam projects in the Amazon River Basin. Residents met this with petitioning and appeals. She wanted to speed up production of the dams despite the opinions of the residents, which would cause the work force to suffer from harsh conditions and long 20-hour days. The courts attempted to judicially slow down the process of building the dams, but attempts were thwarted.
Despite this fact she was very much liked and was named fourth in Forbes's 2014 list of the most powerful women in the world.
On 31 August 2016, Dilma was impeached for the offense of “administrative misconduct,” marking her the first democratically-elected female head of state to be impeached and subsequently removed from office.
The impeachment embodies the rampant corruption that anchors down much of Brazil and South America as a whole. Much of this came to the forefront during the latest Olympics and World Cup, when resources were diverted away from domestic challenges in favor of preparing from the games and festivities.
5. Aung San Suu Kyi: The tenure of Aung San Suu Kyi has been one marked with hope and disappointment. Born into the military dictatorship of Burma (Myanmar), Aung San Suu Kyi would become an advocate for democratic rights in Burma
She would achieve international attention in the Burma uprisings of 1988. In 1990, the military junta would call for a general election, and her party, the National League for Democracy, would go on to win 59% of the votes. For her efforts, she would be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.
Despite her achievements, Aung San Suu Kyi was subject to attacks and has been placed under house arrest for 15 years over 21-year period.
After the military dictatorship fell in Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi would rise up the political ladder. She would serve as Minster to Electric Power and Energy, Education, and then to Foreign Minister. In 2016, she became the State Counsellor of Myanmar, a role equivalent to prime minister.
Her tenure has not been without controversy. Attacks and persecution of the Rohingya, a Muslim minority in Myanmar, has led to a migrant crisis spilling into Bangladesh. Aung San Suu Kyi has received international criticism for not doing enough to stop the state-persecution of the Rohingya.
4. Luisa Dia Diogo: Luísa Dias Diogo was the Prime Minister of Mozambique from 2004 to 2010. For those who are unaware, Mozambique is a country in Southeast Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean. She replaced Pascoal Mocumbi, who was the prime minister for the nine years prior to her time in office, and Aires Ali replaced her.
Diogo was the region's first woman Prime Minister, and she had a powerful voice that tried to initiate change. She tried to get the continent of Africa’s health ministers to offer sexual and reproductive health services throughout the entire continent. She wanted to lower the number of infant mortality, reduce maternal mortality, and reduce the number of citizens who are exposed to AIDS.
She has continued to work on different issues that affect Africa, even after she has retired from her role as Prime Minster. She recently launched the "Network of Women Ministers and Parliamentarians," which focuses on gender equality and women’s empowerment. She is also a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, a group that gathers some of the world’s most influential women leaders where they help act on important issues and take action in the name of women.
3. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the current President of Liberia. She has quite the background in politics and has served as Minister of Finance under President William Tolbert from 1979 until the 1980 coup d'état, after which she left Liberia and held senior positions at various financial institutions. She is a Noble Peace Prize Winner and has been celebrated as a leader.
While in office her main priority was to lower the national debt, a task she was able to accomplish after seeking help from other countries. She also brought running water and electricity to most parts of Monrovia, removed UN sanctions that paved the way for future industry growth, and was responsible for increasing salaries, wages, and pensions.
She was given the Indira Gandhi Prize by President of India Pranab Mukherjee in 2013, and is listed as the 70th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes, in 2014.
2. Indira Gandhi: Indira Gandhi was the third Prime Minister of India and a central figure of the Indian National Congress party. She served as Prime Minister from 1966 to 1977 and then from 1980 to her death in 1984.
Indira was known as a ruthless leader and focused on a centralization of power, which she would take with her as she led the country into war with Pakistan. Her intentions of going to war were to support the independence movement and it was declared a war of independence, which took place in East Pakistan. This war would create Bangladesh.
Gandhi was seen as a threat to the status quo of the Indian government, and was ousted by party president S. Nijalingappa because Gandhi had a falling out over the issues of the time. In response to being expelled, Gandhi created her own faction of Congress where most of the MPs followed her and were on her side. It was here where she would make policies and execute new legislations that would impact the nation.
During her second campaign to regain her position, she focused on anti-poverty, which gave her support from the middle and under class, who felt as if they did not have a voice. She won on a landslide, and served until 1984.
In 1994 her time in office was cut short when she was assassinated by two of Gandhi's bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh. They shot her with their service weapons. The assassination took place after she was able to give her final speech in Orissa, where she read, “I am alive today, I may not be there tomorrow...I shall continue to serve until my last breath and when I die, I can say, that every drop of my blood will invigorate India and strengthen it.”
On 31 August 2016, Dilma was impeached for the offense of “administrative misconduct,” marking her the first democratically-elected female head of state to be impeached and subsequently removed from office. The impeachment embodies the rampant corruption that anchors down much of Brazil and South America as a whole. Much of this came to the forefront during the latest Olympics and World Cup, when resources were diverted away from domestic challenges in favor of preparing from the games and festivities.
Indira Gandhi, who was also the daughter of India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, would come to represent the perils of Indian politics. Tribalism has always plagued India, but with the patrician came a surge of violence that still sporadically continues.
Tribalism is what would eventually break the British Raj into two states (later three, when Bangladesh left Pakistan). India would be primarily for Hindus, and Pakistan, of which the idea of such a nation purportedly did not exist until the 1930’s, would be for Muslims. Despite this, ethnic tensions still continue.
In 2001 she was elected as India’s greatest Prime Minster to date by India Today, and was named “Woman of the Millennium” by the BBC in 1999.
1. Margaret Thatcher: Margaret Thatcher was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990, and was the longest-serving British Prime Minister of the 20th Century. She was also remembered for being the Leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990.
Thatcher was originally elected as a Member of Parliament for Finchley in 1959. She was then appointed as Secretary of State for Education and Science in 1970. In 1975, The United kingdom saw their first major woman political leader when she defeated Heath in the Conservative Party leadership election to become Leader of the Opposition. She would then be elected as Prime Minster in 1979.
During her time as Prime Minister she introduced a series of political and economic initiatives with the intentions to reverse high unemployment rates that resulted from the Winter of Discontent along with a recession at the time. She believed in deregulation, which worked on flexible labor markets, the privatization of state-owned companies, and she wanted to reduce the power and influence of trade unions.
She gained a lot of attention in her early years and became known as a sturdy and hard leader, and would later achieve the nickname, “Iron Lady,” a nickname that would become infamous with the politician and would be the title of a major motion picture that depicted her life and career in office.
She served for three terms and resigned in 1990 when Michael Heseltine tried to run for her position. After retiring, she was given the title of Baroness Thatcher, of Kesteven in the county of Lincolnshire, which entitled her to sit in the House of Lords.
After a series of strokes, Thatcher decided that she should not publicly speak, and she would die of a stroke in 2013.
(Note: Connor Bryant also contributed to this.)