Just The Facts

Political Glass Ceiling Breakers

Which countries led the way on women leaders and which are outliers at the top?

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  • China and the United States have never had a woman leader. India was the 2nd worldwide.
  • India is the most populous nation to have had a woman as a leader in modern times.
  • The highest ranking U.S. women in political history was Speaker Nancy Pelosi from 2007 to 2011.

1. Sri Lanka holds the honor of having had the modern world’s first female head of government. Sirimavo Bandaranaike served her country — then known as the British Dominion of Ceylon — as Prime Minister, beginning in 1960, the year after her husband was assassinated in the office.

2. India is the most populous nation to have had a woman as a leader in modern times.

3. Indira Gandhi served as the country’s prime minister from 1966 to 1977 and again from 1980 to 1984.

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4. She was the only child of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India.

5. Gandhi was the world’s second-ever female head of government.

6. The two most populous nations that have never had a woman as head of government or state are the United States and the People’s Republic of China.

7. In the United States, Hillary Clinton, the former U.S. Secretary of State, is seeking the presidency in 2016, making another effort after an unsuccessful run in 2008.

8. The highest-ranking political leader in the United States so far was Nancy Pelosi, who served as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 2007 to 2011. That post placed her second (after the Vice President) in the presidential line of succession.

9. To date, no woman has ever served as president or premier of China, nor even on the country’s highest decision-making body, the Politburo’s small Standing Committee.

10. There is speculation that the first woman – possibly Sun Chunlan – might be appointed to the Standing Committee in 2017 when a vacancy opens.

Source: The Globalist Research Center

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