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First women in governments

Margaret Thatcher

Copyright David Fowler. Under license

Three years ago Monaco became the last country in the world to have a woman among the members of its government. This marked an important step on women’s path to full participation in politics, which, as far as the executive branch is concerned, started during World War I when the first women became members of revolutionary governments in Ukraine, Russia, Hungary and Ireland.Just as with female parliamentary representation, the Nordic countries were the first to allow women to enter governments appointed by democratically elected parliaments; in 1924 Nina Bang, became Danish Minister of Education and in 1927 Miina Sillanpää was appointed Minister of Social Affairs and Health in Finland. However, female ministers remained rare until the end of the 20th century.

The latter is even more the case with respect to the highest political positions: in 1960, Sirivamo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka became the first female elected Prime Minister in the world and 14 years later Isabel Perón of Argentina became the first woman President.

At present, the Nordic countries are still among the leaders in terms of female political participation: in 1999 Sweden became the first country with more female ministers than male, with 11 women and nine men, and in 2007 the Finnish government had 60% women (a percentage which fell however to 50% in 2011).


Worldwide Guide to Women in Leadership  / Martin K.I. Christensen.

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