Just The Facts

Which Populous Countries Elected Women Leaders?

Half of the top ten have had women heads of government or state.

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Takeaways


  • Among the world’s 10 most populous nations, five have had female leaders. Four are in Asia. The fifth is Brazil.
  • Many women leaders have been related to or married to a man who had previously led their country.
  • The 5 most populous countries that never had women leaders are China, US, Nigeria, Russia & Mexico.

1. Among the world’s 10 most populous nations, five have had female leaders.

2. Except for Brazil — which elected its first female president, Dilma Rousseff, in October 2010 — they all are located in Asia. The other four countries are India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia.

3. India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was the second female leader in the world, taking on the office her father once held, beginning in 1966.

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4. In Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto — the eldest daughter of former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto — held the office of prime minister twice. In 1988, she became the first female leader of a majority-Muslim nation. Both of her terms ended amid corruption scandals.

5. In Indonesia, the world’s third-largest democracy, Megawati Sukarnoputri was the country’s president from 2001 to 2004. Megawati is the daughter of Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno.

6. In Bangladesh, the world’s 8th most populous country, Khaleda Zia, the widow of former President Ziaur Rahman, was prime minister twice (from 1991 to 1996 and from 2001 to 2006).

7. Many of the women in politics around the world who have eventually led their countries have been related to or married to a man who had previously led the country.

8. Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, now seeking the Presidency of the United States, was the First Lady during the presidency of former President Bill Clinton, her husband.

9. Five countries among the world’s 10 most populous nations have not yet had a woman as head of government or state in the modern era.

10. In addition to China (most populous) and the United States (3rd most populous), they are Nigeria (7th), Russia (9th) and Mexico (10th).

Source: The Globalist Research Center

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