The vast majority of current world leaders are males, but women have rapidly entered the political realm, and some women now lead some of the largest, most populated, and most economically successful countries on Earth. Women leaders work to ensure diplomacy, freedom, justice, equality, and peace. Female leaders especially work hard to improve the lives of ordinary women, some of whom desperately need better health and educations. Here are some profiles of important female leaders whose countries have important connections to the United States.
Angela Merkel, Chancellor of GermanyAngela Merkel is the first female chancellor of Germany, which has the largest economy in Europe. She was born in Hamburg in 1954. She studied chemistry and physics in the 1970s. Merkel became a member of the Bundestag, the German Parliament in 1990. She served as Germany's Federal Minister for Women and Youth from 1991-1994. Merkel also was the Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety. She chaired the Group of Eight, or G8. Merkel became chancellor in November 2005. Her main goals are healthcare reform, further European integration, energy development, and reducing unemployment. From 2006-2009, Merkel was ranked as the most powerful woman in the world by Forbes Magazine.
Pratibha Patil, President of IndiaPratibha Patil is the first female president of India, the second largest population in the world. India is the most populous democracy in the world, and has a rapidly growing economy. Patil was born in 1934 in the state of Maharashtra. She studied political science, economics, and law. She served in the Indian Cabinet, and was the minister of several different departments, including Public Health, Social Welfare, Education, Urban Development, Housing, Cultural Affairs, and Tourism. After serving as the Governor of Rajasthan from 2004-2007, Patil became the President of India. She has opened schools for poor children, banks, and temporary housing for working women.
Dilma Rousseff, President of BrazilDilma Rousseff is the first female president of Brazil, which has the largest area, population, and economy in South America. She was born in Belo Horizonte in 1947 as the daughter of a Bulgarian immigrant. In 1964, a coup turned the government into a military dictatorship. Rousseff joined a guerilla organization to fight against the cruel government. She was arrested, jailed, and tortured for two years. After her release, she became an economist. She worked as Brazil's Minister of Mines and Energy and helped get electricity to the rural poor. She will become President on January 1, 2011. She will allocate more money for health, education, and infrastructure by making the government more in control of oil revenues. Rousseff wants to create more jobs and improve government efficiency, as well as make Latin America more integrated.
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of LiberiaEllen Johnson-Sirleaf is the first female president of Liberia. Liberia was mostly settled by freed American slaves. Sirleaf is the first, and currently the only, elected female president of any African nation. Sirleaf was born in 1938 in Monrovia. She studied at American universities and then served as Liberia's Minister of Finance from 1972-1973. After several government takeovers, she went into exile in Kenya and Washington, DC, where she worked in finance. She was twice imprisoned for treason for campaigning against Liberia's former dictators. Sirleaf became the President of Liberia in 2005. Her inauguration was attended by Laura Bush and Condoleeza Rice. She fiercely works against corruption and for the improvement of women's health, education, peace, and human rights. Many countries have forgiven Liberia's debts to them due to Sirleaf's developmental work.
Here is a listing of other female national leaders - as of November 2010.
EuropeIreland - Mary McAleese - President
Finland - Tarja Halonen - President
Finland - Mari Kiviniemi - Prime Minister
Lithuania - Dalia Grybauskaite - President
Iceland - Johanna Siguroardottir - Prime Minister
Croatia - Jadranka Kosor - Prime Minister
Slovakia - Iveta Radicova - Prime Minister
Switzerland - Four of the Seven Members of the Swiss Federal Council are Women - Micheline Calmy-Rey, Doris Leuthard, Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, Simonetta Sommaruga
Latin America and the CaribbeanArgentina - Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner - President
Costa Rica - Laura Chinchilla Miranda - President
St. Lucia - Pearlette Louisy - Governor-General
Antigua and Barbuda - Louise Lake-Tack - Governor-General
Trinidad and Tobago - Kamla Persad-Bissessar - Prime Minister
AsiaKyrgyzstan - Roza Otunbayeva - President
Bangladesh - Hasina Wazed - Prime Minister
OceaniaAustralia - Quentin Bryce - Governor-General
Australia - Julia Gillard - Prime Minister