Women have been at the helm of the affairs of their countries for many generations, but in the 20th Century the number of well known women leaders increased manifold. The 10 women listed below led their countries through times of turbulence and peace.
Born into India’s politically influential Nehru family, she was India’s first woman Prime Minister. A hard nosed pragmatic, she ruled the country with firmness and determination, taking hard and tough decisions when needed. She was assassinated by two of her own guards in 1984.
Nicknamed “Iron Lady” due to her tough stance against the erstwhile Soviet Union, she led her country through recession and high unemployment into a period of relative prosperity, and a rise in its stature among fellow nations. She was the first woman to lead a major political party in the United Kingdom.
The daughter Pakistan’s Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, she ruled her country from 1988-1990, and 1993-1996. She was assassinated in 2007, during election campaigning. It was widely expected that she would go on to become Prime Minister for a record third term.
Asia’s first female President, she was a novice when she was elected President sometime after her husband’s assassination. She was a strong advocate of women’s rights and of democracy as opposed to Ferdinand Marcos’s dictatorial rule.
Believed by many to be the power behind the throne, she holds no political office, yet rules the country. An Italian by birth, she adopted India as her country after marrying Rajiv Gandhi. She has been nominated as the third most powerful woman in the world.