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10 Countries That Have Elected Women Into The Highest Office

This week, Brazil got its first female president, Dilma Rousseff, who was formerly the energy secretary and chief of staff to President Luiz Inácio da Silva. Taking 56 percent of the vote, Rousseff said, “I hope the fathers and mothers of little girls will look at them and say, ‘Yes, women can.’” It seems trite to be all “girl power!” about this, but I get kind of giddy when a lady is elected into a country’s highest office. A handful of South American governments are being run by women now, and there are women in top political offices around the world. We’ve rounded up some of them up after the jump. [Newser]

  • Australia: Julia Gillard has been the prime minister of Australia since June and is the first female prime minister in the country’s history. Gillard was the deputy prime minister to Kevin Rudd, but after he lost support of his party, he stepped aside and Gillard took over. Gillard said, “I’m well aware that I am the first woman to serve in this role, but can I say to you, I didn’t set out to crash my head on any glass ceilings.” Go redheads! [Huffington Post]
  • Liberia: Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is the president of Liberia, which makes her the first female president of her country and the only elected female leader in the continent of Africa. The divorced mother of four and grandmother to six children was elected in 2005, after leading the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace movement. She took office in 2006 and has since established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate 20 years of civil war. [African History]
  • Germany: Angela Merkel is Germany’s first female chancellor. She has also held the post of President of the European Council and she’s chaired the G8 summit. She’s made Germany more eco-friendly, put more women in high government posts and has worked to make the Euro more powerful in global markets. Europeans voted Merkel the most influential politician and she’s also got a reputation for being the loudest female voice in European politics. [Forbes]
  • Iceland: Johanna Sigurdardottir is Iceland’s first female prime minister and the world’s first openly gay head of state of either gender. She is also Iceland’s longest serving member of parliament, having been re-elected for eight successive terms. She’s been the prime minister since February 2000. And really cool since birth. [DW World]
  • Costa Rica: The president of Costa Rica is Laura Chinchilla. She was one of Oscar Arias Sanchez’s two vice presidents and took 47 percent of the vote in May. She’s a social conservative who opposes abortion and gay marriage, which hasn’t made her super popular with human rights group. [L.A. Times]
  • The Philippines: Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is the second female president of the Philippines, after Corazon Aquino. Gloria is the daughter of former President Diosdado Macapagal and was sworn in as prez in 2001. She was elected to a second term in 2004, with a million votes more than her closest opponent. Gloria is also the second longest serving president in the country’s history and broke several other records during her elections for senator and vice president, garnering the highest number of votes in Philippine history. Yeah, she rules. [Squidoo]
  • Lithuania: Dalia Grybauskaite was elected president of Lithuania in 2009, winning with 68 percent of the votes. She’s often called the “Iron Lady” for having a black belt in karate and speaking her mind. [Huffington Post]
  • Switzerland: Doris Leuthard was elected president of Switzerland’s federal council this year, after being a member since 2006. The council has seven executive council members and each year, one of them is appointed to lead the council. Leuthhard was a lawyer before taking political office. She is only the fifth woman to hold a place in the federal council and is leading the council this year. She’s also kinda hip-looking. [Planet Rulers]
  • Croatia: Jadranka Kosor was elected as Croatia’s first female prime minister in July 2009 after the incumbent Prime Minister Ivo Sanader resigned and recommended her as his replacement. [SE Times]

Oh, but these aren’t the only countries where women hold the highest office; there’s also Argentina, Finland, Trinidad and Tobago, Ireland, and India. Hopefully, the U.S. will catch up soon?

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