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While the path remains unequal, a growing number of countries around the world have been led by women. By defying expectations and shattering glass ceilings, these women have made significant strides not just in the realm of politics. They have brought their unique perspectives and priorities to the table, shaping policy and leaving their mark on the global stage.

Mexico is the latest country to etch its name into the history books. On June 2nd, 2024, Claudia Sheinbaum was elected as the nation’s first female president. She will succeed fellow Morena party member Andrés Manuel López Obrador as president when she is inaugurated on October 1st. Sheinbaum is an environmental scientist and former mayor of Mexico City. She secured a resounding victory, garnering over 59% of the vote. This landmark achievement comes after a long road for women in Mexican politics, and Sheinbaum’s win signifies a significant step towards gender equality in the country.

While it seems like countries are continually being added to the list year after year, some of the globe’s biggest economies remain conspicuously absent. These include the United States, China, Japan, and France. Here are the nations that have been fortunate enough to have a woman occupy the highest governmental office in the country, not including ceremonial representative positions.

Argentina

Argentina has had two female executives in its history. The first was Isabel Perón whose term lasted nearly two years from July 1974 to March 1976. Her government was deposed by a coup d’état. The second was Cristina Fernández de Kirchner whose presidency lasted for two terms from December 2007 to December 2015.

Austria

Austria joined the list in 2019 with the appointment of Brigitte Bierlein as Chancellor of Austria. She was appointed after the first successful parliamentary motion of no confidence in Austrian history removed the previous ruling government. She held office from June 2019 until the next legislative election and successful formation of government in January 2020.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh has had two women prime ministers. The first was Khaleda Zia. She first served from March 1991 to March 1996. She then again served from October 2001 to October 2006. The second woman to serve as prime minister is Sheikh Hasina. Her first term lasted from June 1996 to July 2001. She remains the current prime minister of Bangladesh, having held the office again since January 2009. Bangladesh has been governed by a woman continuously for the past 30+ years, although the last few elections have not met “free and fair” standards according to international observers.

Barbados

Mia Mottley has served as the Prime Minister of Barbados since 2018. She is the first woman to hold the position of Prime Minister in Barbados. She is also the first prime minister under the country’s new parliamentary republic government after the Barbados removed Queen Elizabeth II as head of state in 2021.

Belgium

Sophie Wilmès served as the Prime Minister of Belgium from 2019 to 2020. She was the first woman to hold the position in Belgian history. Because of Belgium’s unique power-sharing arrangement, government formation can take months of negotiations after elections. Wilmès was initially elected to lead a “caretaker” government while negotiations took place. However, after the onset of COVID, she was given full legislative responsibilities to address to the health emergency.

Bolivia

Lidia Gueiler and Jeanine Áñez

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Željka Cvijanović

Brazil

Dilma Rousseff

Canada

Kim Campbell

Central African Republic

Elisabeth Domitien

Chile

Michelle Bachelet

Costa Rica

Laura Chinchilla Miranda

Croatia

Jadranka Kosor

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Judith Suminwa

Denmark

Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Mette Frederiksen

Dominica

Eugenia Charles

Estonia

Kaja Kallas

Finland

Anneli Jäätteenmäki and Mari Kiviniemi and Sanna Marin

Germany

Angela Merkel

Greece

Vassiliki Thanou-Christophilou

Guyana

Janet Jagan

Haiti

Ertha Pascal-Trouillot

Honduras

Xiomara Castro

Iceland

Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir and Katrín Jakobsdóttir

India

Indira Gandhi

Indonesia

Megawati Sukarnoputri

Israel

Golda Meir

Italy

Giorgia Meloni

Jamaica

Portia Simpson-Miller

Kyrgyzstan

Roza Otunbayeva

Latvia

Laimdota Straujuma and Evika Siliņa

Liberia

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Lithuania

Kazimira Prunskienė and Ingrida Šimonytė

Malawi

Joyce Banda

Marshall Islands

Hilda Heine

Mexico

Claudia Sheinbaum

Moldova

Maia Sandu and Natalia Gavrilița

Myanmar

Aung San Suu Kyi

New Zealand

Jenny Shipley and Helen Clark and Jacinda Ardern

Nicaragua

Violeta Chamorro

Norway

Gro Harlem Brundtland and Erna Solberg

Pakistan

Benazir Bhutto

Panama

Mireya Moscoso

Peru

Dina Boluarte

Philippines

Corazon Aquino and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

Portugal

Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo

Romania

Viorica Dăncilă

Samoa

Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa

São Tomé and Príncipe

Maria das Neves

Maria do Carmo Silveira

Serbia

Ana Brnabić

Slovakia

Iveta Radičová

Slovenia

Alenka Bratušek

South Korea

Park Geun-hye

Sri Lanka

Sirimavo Bandaranaike

Sweden

Magdalena Andersson

Taiwan

Tsai Ing-Wen

Tanzania

Samia Suluhu Hassan

Thailand

Yingluck Shinawatra

Trinidad and Tobago

Kamla Persad-Bissessar

Ukraine

Yulia Tymoshenko

United Kingdom

Margaret Thatcher

Theresa May

Liz Truss

Morgan Hughes

Morgan Hughes

Dallas native Morgan is your sassy and authoritative guide through the ever-evolving realms of fashion, beauty, bargain hunting, and family wisdom. As a family aficionado, she offers invaluable advice about the wonderful chaos of households.