Map of the day: Where women have headed states


An International Women’s Day offering from the Pew Research Center, which reports:

Fifty-six of the 146 nations (38%) studied by the World Economic Forum in 2014 and 2016 have had a female head of government or state for at least one year in the past half-century. In 31 of these countries, women have led for five years or less; in 10 nations, they have led for only a year. The Marshall Islands, which is not included on the WEF list of countries, has also had a female leader for one year. 

At least 13 additional countries have had women leaders who held office for less than a year, according to a separate analysis by Pew Research Center. Of these countries, Ecuador and Madagascar had women leaders for a total of just two days. In South Africa, a woman was president for a 14-hour stretch, but she had briefly served as acting president before; in all three countries, women leaders were replaced by men. 

There are 15 female world leaders currently in office, eight of whom are their country’s first woman in power, according to our analysis of data from the United Nations and other sources. While the number of current female leaders – excluding monarchs and figurehead leaders – has more than doubled since 2000, these women still represent fewer than 10% of 193 UN member states.

The list of women currently in office includes nine heads of state and eight heads of government. (Some leaders are both, and President of the Swiss Confederation Doris Leuthard is neither on her own – Switzerland’s Federal Council collectively heads both state and government and leadership rotates between its seven members.)

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