2017, women and political leadership – female heads of State and heads of government

For data for 2018 click here.


There are currently 20 women holding the office of the head of state or head of governement, which represents 6,3% of the total of 315 world leaders. This number represents a small decrease in comparison with 2016 when 22 women occupied the highest political positions in their countries.

The United Kingdom is the only country having both posts, that of the Head of State and Head of government, occupied by women.

Heads of State

Currently, 13 women are the highest representatives of their countries. It represents 7,3% of the total number of 178 Heads of State in the world. Traditionnally, more than the half of them (7) come from European countries.


Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president since 2006, former Minister of Finance; the first elected female head of state in Africa, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011
Ameenah Gurib MauritiusAmeenah Gurib-Fakim, president since 2015 and the first woman to hold the office


bidhya-devi-bhandari NepalBidhya Devi Bhandari, president of Nepal since 2015 and the first woman to hold the office, former Minister of Defence
Park Guen-Hye South KoreaPark Geun-Hye, president since 2013 (her powers and duties are however suspended since December 2016 after impeachment proceedings and since March, 10 she was destituted by the Constitutional Court), the first woman to be elected the President of South Korea and the first female president in Northeast Asia


hilda-heine The Marshall IslandsHilda Heine, president since 2016 and the first woman to hold the office; previously she served as the Minister of Education and the first person in the Marshall Islands to earn a doctorate degree


Queen Elizabeth II

United KingdomElisabeth II, queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms since 1952, the longest currently reigning monarch and head of state
doris-leuthard SwitzerlandDoris Leuthard, president since 2015 and former vice-president of the country
 Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca MaltaMarie-Louise Coleiro Preca, president since 2014, former minister for the Family and Social Solidarity
 Dalia Grybauskaite LithuaniaDalia Grybauskaite, president since 2009, first woman to hold the office and the first President of Lithuania to be re-elected; former European Commissioner for Financial Programming and the Budget and for Education and Culture
 Kersti Kaljulaid EstoniaKersti Kaljulaid, president since 2016, the first woman to hold the office and the youngest president of Estonia
 Queen Margarethe II DanemarkMargrethe II, Queen since 1972
 Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović CroatiaKolinda Grabar-Kitarović, president since 2015, former Croatian Ambassador to the UN and former Minister of Foreign and European Affairs

South America

 Michelle Bachelet ChileMichelle Bachelet, president since 2014, former Executive Director of UN Women; the first president since 1932 to win twice in the presidential elections

Heads of government

Among 137 Heads of government only 7 of them are women. This represents 5,1% of the total number. Once again Europe leads regarding the number of female leaders.


 Saara Kuugongelwa NamibiaSaara Kuugongelwa, prime minister since 2015, former Minister of Finance


 Sheikh Hasina Wajed BangladeshSheikh Hasina Wajed, prime minister since 2009 (third term)
 Aung San Suu Kyi.jpg MyanmarAung San Suu Kyi, State counsellor since 2016 (the position corresponding to that of the prime minister), recipient of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize


 Theresa May United KingdomTheresa May, prime minister since 2016 and leader of the Conservative Party, former Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities
 Beata szydlo PolandBeata Szydło, prime minister since 2015 and the vice-chairman of the Law and Justice Party
 BELGIUM-EU-NORWAY-PM-SOLBERG-VISIT NorwayErna Solberg, prime minister since 2013 and leader of the Conservative Party, former Minister of Local Government and Regional Development
 Angela Merkel GermanyAngela Merkel, Chancellor since 2005 and leader of Christian Democratic Union, former minister for the Environment and for Women and Youth

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