We are our grandmother’s wildest dreams!!
If your dreams do not scare you; they are not big enough.Ellen Sirleaf
It’s 2021 and even though it is not equal; a girl brought up in Africa can dream of being president.
Africa, unlike the developed countries of the world has produced five female Presidents! Beginning with the free Liberia who elected Ellen Sirleaf Johnson through Ethiopia’s Sahle Work Zwede to new Tanzanian’s Suluhu; we are beginning to show the fruits of the feminist movement.
We must ensure; now more than ever to keep this fire burning and passing on the touch so women, men and gender-non-conforming people to achieve a progressive world.
As of January 2021, there were only 13 countries with 50% or more women ministers according to the United Nations.
Here’s is a list of women who have or are serving as the head of state.
1. Samia Suluhu- Tanzania
Suluhu Hassan is the current and the 6th President of the United Republic of Tanzania.
She was sworn in on 19th March 2021 following the death of the 5th President, John Pombe Magufuli who succumbed to heart complications on 16th March.
Suluhu became the first woman to hold the office of the Deputy President and now, the President in East Africa.
Suluhu, a Muslim born in Zanzibar served as a minister during one of the Zanzibar’s President Regime.
Previously, Suluhu was the Makunduchi Member of Parliament from 2010-2015. She had also been elected the Vice-Chairperson of the Constituency Assembly in 2014.
President Magufuli and Samia as the Vice President were elected to the office in 2015 and were re-elected to office for the second term in 2020.
During the state funeral for the late President Magufuli, Suluhu reminded those who doubted that she will lead the Republic of Tanzania that she will do her best and she is the President whose nature is a woman.
“This is a time to bury our differences, and be one as a nation… This is not a time for finger pointing, but it is a time to hold hands and move forward together.”Samia Suluhu
2. Sahle Work Zewde – Ethiopia
Zwede was elected the first female President of Ethiopia in October 2018 through a parliamentary election.
In June 2018, UN Secretary General Antonio Guetteres appointed Sahle as the head of the United Nations African Union. She was previously the director-general of the UN office and at the same time held the position of Ethiopia’s ambassador to Djibouti and France.
Work, an experienced diplomat upon her election, promised during her swearing-in ceremony to work towards achieving gender equality in her government, an exercise which has seen many youths and women appointed to state leadership under her rule and so far nearly a half of the posts have been taken by women.
Sahle previously worked as the only woman ambassador, where she served in Senegal.
3. Maia Sandu- Maldova
Inspite of a smear misogynistic campaign about her being unmarried and not having a family at 48; Maia Sandu became Maldova’s president last year by a popular vote of 57%.
4. Vjosa Osmani- Kosovo
Kosovo’s Osmani, 38 is the youngest president in the world. she took office in 2020.
5. Katerina Sakellaropoulou– Greece
63 year old Katerina Sakellaropoulou shuttered the glass ceiling late last year and became Greece’s first president.
6. Zuzana Caputova– Slovakia
Lawyer and anti-corruption activist Caputova became Slovakia’s first female president in 2019 at age 45.
7.Bidhya Devi Bhandari- Nepal
Nepal’s president Bandhari dissolved her country’s parliament late last year and called for elections in April and May this year.
8. Tsai Ing-wen- Taiwan
Tsai is serving her second term as Taiwan’s president after winning in landslide election. She has been president since 2016.
9. Kersti Kaljulaid– Estonia
Kersti is the 17th woman to occupy a position as head of state in Estonia elected by the country’s parliament in 2016.
10. Halimah Yacob– Singapore
One of the fastest growing economies is led by Halimah Yacob who has held office since 2017 after an undisputed election.
While we have enjoyed listing these powerful, great, professionals, we would like to hear some of your thoughts on how far we have come with ensuring a fair, equal, just, progressive, and different world. These formidable presidents have shuttered the glass ceiling and proven that women can rule the world effectively and move their countries through huge milestones. If Covid 19 response has shown has, countries ruled by women are better prepared in crisis management. Thus, we must ensure that women see our capability, we are presented with equal opportunity, take opportunity when presented and go as far as our unique capacities can take us.
But before you go, here are some of the presidents that ruled the world at a particular time space in the world. Note who was the first woman president in the world. Note the first female presidents of Africa come from countries that were never colonized.
- President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia (2006- 2018)
Ellen Sirleaf was elected the first African woman president in 2006.
She studied at the College of West African and later on at the Madison and Harvard Universities.
She later on came back to Liberia where she served as the Finance’s Deputy Minister from 1971-1974.She later returned to the west to work with World Bank in the Latin America and in 1980 she was appointed the Finance Minister until 1980.
Ellen was active in politics all along and in 1997, she contested for presidential but lost. She later on in 2005, won the presidential contest and assumed office in January 2006 and was reelected for the second term in 2011.
Ellen played a vital role in bringing women into peacekeeping and empowerment, an effort which saw her win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011. She also won the Grand Commander Star of Africa Redemption of Liberia award among others.
Kamala Harris: U.S Vice President
Kamala Harris made history made history late 2020 as the first woman, of color as the Vice President of the United States
Kamala was born in 20th October 1964 to a Jamaican father and Indian mother in California and is serving as the 46th Vice President of the United States in Biden’s administration since 20th January 2021.
Harris previously announced for her dream to run for the United States’ presidential race in January 2019 but later on suspended her campaign in December the same year and later on endorsed Biden in early 2020. In August 2021, Biden announced Harris as her running mate.
Prior to this, Harris was the member of US Senate, a representative of California from 2017-2021 and the former Attorney General of California who served between 2011 and 2017. Harris also served as San Francisco’s district Attorney General from 2004 to 2011.
Vigdís Finnbogadóttir; Iceland (1980-1996)
She was the first ever female president of the world with the longest term of 16 years. (Iceland )