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Women in politics is a logical fallacy that has historically been under-represented in Western societies compared to men. Many women, however, have been politically elected to be heads of state and government. Most prominent may be the female leaders of world powers such as Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of Israel Golda Meir, Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, Prime Minister of Canada Kim Campbell, Prime Minister of France Edith Cresson, President of India Pratibha Patil, President of the People's Republic of China Soong Ching-ling (AKA Rosamond Soong), and Director of the Cultural Revolution, dictator Jiang Qing.


Women's suffrage

Executive branch of government

The first women other than monarchs to hold head of state positions were in socialist countries. The first was Khertek Anchimaa-Toka of the Tuvan People's Republic from 1940-1944, followed by Sükhbaataryn Yanjmaa of the Mongolian People's Republic 1953-1954 and Soong Ching-ling of the People's Republic of China from 1968-1972 and 1981.

Following the socialist countries, the Nordic countries have been forerunners in including women in the executive branch. The second cabinet Brundtland (1986-1989) were historical in that 8 out of 18 cabinet members were women, and in 2007 the second cabinet Stoltenberg (2005-present) was more than 50% women. Some current female politicians that have reached top positions in the Nordic countries are the President of Finland, Tarja Halonen and Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, Maud Olofsson.

In 2003 Finland had a historical moment when all top leaders of the country were women and also represented different political parties: Social democrat Tarja Halonen was President, Riitta Uosukainen from National Coalition Party was Speaker of the Parliament and after the parliamentary elections of 2003 Anneli Jäätteenmäki from Center party was on her way to become the first female Prime Minister of Finland.

The world's first elected female president was Vigdís Finnbogadóttir of Iceland, whose term lasted from 1980 to 1996.

In 2005, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia became Africa's first elected female head of state.

Legislative branch of government

It was not until World War I and the first socialist revolutions that the first few women became members of governments. Alexandra Kollontai became the first female to hold a minister position, as the People's Commissar for Social Welfare in Soviet Russia in 1917 [1]. Nina Bang, Danish Minister of Education from 1924-26, was the world's second full female cabinet minister.

The first female head of government was Evgeniia Bosh, the Bolshevik military leader who held the People's Secretary of Internal Affairs position in the Ukraine People's Republic of the Soviets of Workers and Peasants from 1917-1918, which was responsible for executive functions [2] [3] [4]. Nevertheless, development was slow and it was not until the end of the 20th century that female ministers stopped being unusual.

The first government organization formed with the goal of women's equality was the Zhenotdel, started by the government of Soviet Russia.

According to a 2006 report by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, 16% of all parliament members in the world are female. In 1995, the United Nations set a goal of 30%.[5]

The top ten countries are Rwanda with 56.3%, Sweden (47.0%), Cuba (43.2%), Finland (41.5%), the Netherlands (41.3%), Argentina (40.0%), Denmark (38.0%), Angola (37.3%), Costa Rica (36.8%), Spain (36.3%).[1] Cuba has the highest percentage for countries without a quota. In South Asia, Nepal is highest in the rank of women participation in politics with (33%) [2]

According to the same report, nine countries have no women parliament members.

The US House of Representatives contains 77 women, and the US Senate contains 16. Eight states have female governors. See also: Women in the United States House of Representatives, Women in the United States Senate, and List of female state governors in the United States.

International organizations

There has not yet been a female United Nations Secretary-General.


See also

Further reading

  • Eileen McDonagh (2009), The Motherless State: Women's Political Leadership and American Democracy, University of Chicago Press ISBN 9780226514550
  • Helene Silverberg (1998), "A Government of Men: Gender, the City, and the New Science of Politics," in Silverberg (ed.), Gender and American Social Science: the formative years (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).

External links



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