2015, women and political leadership – female heads of state and heads of government

For updated 2016 version please click here


The International Women’s Day is approaching and a lot of politicians are speaking about women empowerment and leadership. I decided thus to create a list of female leaders in the world. The results show that in 2015 women’s presence among political leaders is still an exception, not a rule.

I prepared two list: one with Heads of State (Presidents or Queens, vested with powers to represent the country) and Heads of Government (commonly, highest chiefs of the executive branch). The two list combined, we find only 22 female leaders. It represents only 6,9% of the total number of political leaders in the world (315). The only country in the world with both female head of State and head of government is Denmark.

1) Heads of State

There are 178 Heads of State in the World and only 13 of them are women. They represent only 7,3% of the total number.

Almost half of them (7) are in Europe and a quarter (3) in South America. Among them, 11 are Presidents and 2 are Queens.

catherine-samba-panza--644x362 Central African Republic – Catherine Samba-Panza (President since 2014)
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Liberia – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (President since 2006 and the world’s first elected black female president and Africa’s first elected female head of state)
Park Geun-hye South Korea – Park Geun-hye (President since 2013 and the first female Head of State in Northeastern Asia)
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović Croatia – Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović (President since 2015)
Queen Margarethe II Denmark – Queen Margrethe II (Queen since 1972)
Atifete Jahjaga Kosovo – Atifete Jahjaga (President since 2011, the first female Head of State in the Balkans and the youngest one)
Dalia Grybauskaitė Lithuania – Dalia Grybauskaitė (President 2009 and the first Lithuanian president elected for the second term)
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca Malta – Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca (President since 2014)
Simonetta Sommaruga Switzerland – Simonetta Sommaruga (President since 2015)
Queen Elizabeth II United Kingdom – Queen Elizabeth II (Queen since 1952)
South America
Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner Argentina – Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (President since 2007 and the first elected female president of Argentina)
Dilma Rousseff Brazil – Dilma Roussef (President since 2011 and the first female president of Brazil)
Michelle Bachelet Chile – Michelle Bachelet (President from 2006 to 2010 and since 2014; the first popularly elected female president of South America)

2) Heads of Government

Among 137 Heads of Government only 9 of them are women. It represents 6,5%. Once again, Europe is the continent with the highest number of female leaders.

Sheikh Hasina Wajed Bangladesh – Sheikh Hasina Wajed (Prime Minister from 1996 to 2001 and since 2009)
Helle Thorning-Schmidt Denmark – Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Prime Minister since 2011 and the first female Prime Minister of Denmark)
Angela Merkel Germany – Angela Merkel (Chancellor since 2006 and the first woman and the first citizen of the German Democratic Republic to hold the office)
Laimdota Straujuma Latvia – Laimdota Straujuma (Prime Minister since 2014 and the first female Prime Minister of Latvia)
BELGIUM-EU-NORWAY-PM-SOLBERG-VISIT Norway – Erna Solberg (Prime Minister since 2013)
Ewa Kopacz Poland – Ewa Kopacz (Prime Minister since 2014)
North America
Portia Simpson Miller Jamaica – Portia Simpson Miller (Prime Minister from 2006 to 2007 and since 2012)
South America
Ana Jara Peru – Ana Jara (Prime Minister since 2014)
Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar addresses a news conference in Port of Spain Trinidad and Tobago – Kamla Persad-Bissessar (Prime Minister since 2010 and the first woman to hold the office in Trinidad and Tobago)

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