2018, women and political leadership – female heads of state and heads of government

We should expect that every year, women would be more numerous in occupying the highest offices in their countries. However, numbers from February 2018 show that no progress has been made in comparison with 2017. Currently, there are only 20 women holding the office of Head of State or Head of Government, which represents only 6,3% of the total number of international leaders.

Two countries this year combine both female head of state and head of government: the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

Heads of State

Currently, 10 women are the highest representatives of their countries. It represents 5,6% of the total number of Heads of State in the world. This number represents a slight decrease in comparison with 2017 when 13 women led their countries. Once again, the continent with the highest number of female Heads of State is Europe (6).


Ameenah Gurib

Mauritius Ameenah 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



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


Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović

CroatiaKolinda Grabar-Kitarović, president since 2015, former Croatian Ambassador to the UN and former Minister of Foreign and European Affairs

Queen Margarethe II

DanemarkMargrethe II, Queen since 1972

Kersti Kaljulaid

EstoniaKersti Kaljulaid, president since 2016, the first woman to hold the office and the youngest president of Estonia

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

Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca

Malta – Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, president since 2014, former minister for the Family and Social Solidarity

Queen Elizabeth II

United KingdomQueen Elizabeth II, queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms since 1952, the longest currently reigning monarch and head of state

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 governments

Currently 10 women are prime ministers (against 7 in 2017). These represents 7,3% of the total number of 137 chiefs of governments. Once again, Europe is leading with 5 women as prime ministers.


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

MyanmarAung San Suu Kyi, State counsellor since 2016 (the position corresponding to that of the prime minister), recipient of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize


Znalezione obrazy dla zapytania jacinda ardern

New ZealandJacinda Ardern, prime minister since 2017 and the leader of the Labour Party. She is the youngest prime minister in the world (37 y.o. when she took the office)


Angela Merkel

GermanyAngela Merkel, Chancellor since 2005 and leader of Christian Democratic Union, former minister for the Environment and for Women and Youth

Znalezione obrazy dla zapytania Katrín Jakobsdóttir

Iceland – Katrín Jakobsdóttir, prime minister since 2017 and former minister of Education, Science and Culture and of Nordic Co-operation


NorwayErna Solberg, prime minister since 2013 and leader of the Conservative Party, former Minister of Local Government and Regional Development

Znalezione obrazy dla zapytania ana brnabicSerbiaAna Brnabic, prime minister since 2017, former Minister of Public Administration and Local Self-Government of Serbia, first woman and first openly gay person to hold the office

Theresa May

United KingdomTheresa May, prime minister since 2016 and leader of the Conservative Party, former Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities

South America

Znalezione obrazy dla zapytania Mercedes Aráoz

Peru – Mercedes Aráoz, prime minister and second vice president since 2017, former minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism and minister of Finance.

12 thoughts on “2018, women and political leadership – female heads of state and heads of government

  1. Is the UK the only country in the world which currently has both a female head of state and a female head of government? What other examples of this have there been in history, (apart from Margaret Thatcher and Queen Elizabeth II from 1979 to 1990)?

    1. Hi James, currently the UK and New Zealand have women occupying offices of Head of State and Head of Government (in New Zealand the office of the governor is also occupied by a woman, dame Patsy Reddy). Previously, the country with such a “power team” was Danemark, with queen Margret as the Head of State and Helle Thorning-Schmidt as Prime Minister

    2. Barbados, not mentioned above currently have females serving as both head of state and head of government. Kindly update the information

      1. Dear Marshall, thank you for your comment. However, in February 2018 when the list was made (it is updated once a year, in the first trimester) Mia Mottley did not occupy the office of the prime minister. For that reason, Barbados does not appear among countries with both women prime minister and head of state.

  2. Congratulation to The Honorable Prime Minister of Bangladesh ” Shekh Hasina” Mother of Humanity.

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