Who will be our first woman Taoiseach?

Picture: Prime Ministers of Iceland, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Belgium, Germany, and Serbia; plus recent Prime Ministers of United Kingdom, Slovenia, Austria, Poland, Latvia, Romania, and Moldova.

As our fifteenth man in a row settles into the job of Taoiseach, I wonder when Ireland will have our first woman as head of government?

Mary Harney, Mary Coughlan, Joan Burton, and Frances Fitzgerald have been Tánaiste. We have had two successful women Presidents in Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese. But we have not yet had a woman as Taoiseach.

The sex of the Taoiseach should not of course matter, and whoever gets the position should get it on merit. But when we get fifteen in a row of one sex, there is probably something wrong with the system.

How do we compare to other countries?

A hundred women have been Prime Minister of their country since Sirimavo Bandaranaike took office in Ceylon in 1960. Some have been both head of State as President and head of government as Prime Minister.

Fourteen countries today have women Prime Ministers: Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Bolivia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Myanmar, Namibia, New Zealand, Norway, Serbia, and Taiwan.

Seven women have spent more than a decade as Prime Minister of their country. Two are still in office: Angela Merkel in Germany for fourteen years and Sheikh Hasina in Bangladesh for eleven years, having also held the position for six years in the late 1990s.

Current Women Prime Ministers
(* = both President and Prime Minister)

2005 — Angela Merkel, Germany
2009 — Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh
2013 — Erna Solberg, Norway
2015 — Saara Kuugongelwa, Namibia
2016 — Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar
2016 — Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan *
2017 — Ana Brnabić, Serbia
2017 — Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand
2017 — Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Iceland
2018 — Mia Mottley, Barbados
2019 — Mette Frederiksen, Denmark
2019 — Sophie Wilmès, Belgium
2019 — Jeanine Áñez, Bolivia *
2019 — Sanna Marin, Finland

More than a decade as Prime Minister
(* = both President and Prime Minister)

14 years 328 days — Dame Eugenia Charles, Dominica, 1980-1995
14 years 224 days so far — Angela Merkel, Germany, 2005-
12 years 6 days — Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia, 2006-2018 *
11 years 208 days — Margaret Thatcher, United Kingdom, 1979-1990
11 years 179 days so far — Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh, 2009-
11 years 90 days — Indira Gandhi, India, 1966-1977
11 years 7 days — Chandrika Kumaratunga, Sri Lanka, 1994-2005 *

Women Prime Ministers since 1960
(* = acting Prime Minister)

1960 — Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Ceylon
1966 — Indira Gandhi, India
1969 — Golda Meir, Israel

1975 — Elisabeth Domitien, Central African Republic
1979 — Margaret Thatcher, United Kingdom
1979 — Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo, Portugal

1980 — Dame Eugenia Charles, Dominica
1981 — Gro Harlem Brundtland, Norway
1982 — Milka Planinc, Yugoslavia
1988 — Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan

1990 — Kazimira Prunskienė, Lithuania
1991 — Khaleda Zia, Bangladesh
1991 — Édith Cresson, France
1992 — Hanna Suchocka, Poland
1993 — Tansu Çiller, Turkey
1993 — Kim Campbell, Canada
1993 — Sylvie Kinigi, Burundi
1993 — Agathe Uwilingiyimana, Rwanda
1994 — Reneta Indzhova, Bulgaria
1995 — Claudette Werleigh, Haiti
1996 — Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh
1997 — Janet Jagan, Guyana
1997 — Jenny Shipley, New Zealand
1999 — Nyam-Osoryn Tuyaa, Mongolia *
1999 — Irena Degutienė, Lithuania *
1999 — Helen Clark, New Zealand

2001 — Mame Madior Boye, Senegal
2001 — Khaleda Zia, Bangladesh
2002 — Maria das Neves, São Tomé and Príncipe
2002 — Chang Sang, South Korea *
2003 — Anneli Jäätteenmäki, Finland
2003 — Beatriz Merino, Peru
2004 — Luísa Diogo, Mozambique
2004 — Radmila Šekerinska, North Macedonia
2005 — Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine
2005 — Maria do Carmo Silveira, São Tomé and Príncipe
2005 — Angela Merkel, Germany (incumbent)
2006 — Portia Simpson-Miller, Jamaica
2006 — Han Myeong-sook, South Korea
2008 — Zinaida Greceanîi, Moldova
2008 — Michèle Pierre-Louis, Haiti
2009 — Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh (incumbent)
2009 — Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, Iceland
2009 — Jadranka Kosor, Croatia
2009 — Cécile Manorohanta, Madagascar

2010 — Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Trinidad and Tobago
2010 — Mari Kiviniemi, Finland
2010 — Julia Gillard, Australia
2010 — Iveta Radičová, Slovakia
2011 — Rosario Fernández, Peru
2011 — Cissé Mariam Kaïdama Sidibé, Mali
2011 — Yingluck Shinawatra, Thailand
2011 — Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Denmark
2012 — Portia Simpson-Miller, Jamaica
2012 — Adiato Djaló Nandigna, Guinnea-Bissau
2013 — Alenka Bratušek, Slovenia
2013 — Sibel Siber, Northern Cyprus
2013 — Aminata Touré, Senegal
2013 — Erna Solberg, Norway (incumbent)
2014 — Laimdota Straujuma, Latvia
2014 — Ana Jara, Peru
2014 — Ewa Kopacz, Poland
2014 — Florence Duperval Guillaume, Haiti *
2015 — Saara Kuugongelwa, Namibia (incumbent)
2015 — Natalia Gherman, Moldova *
2015 — Vassiliki Thanou, Greece *
2015 — Beata Szydło, Poland
2016 — Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar (incumbent)
2016 — Theresa May, United Kingdom
2017 — Ana Brnabić, Serbia (incumbent)
2017 — Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand (incumbent)
2017 — Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Iceland (incumbent)
2018 — Viorica Dăncilă, Romania
2018 — Mia Mottley, Barbados (incumbent)
2019 — Brigitte Bierlein, Austria
2019 — Maia Sandu, Moldova
2019 — Mette Frederiksen, Denmark (incumbent)
2019 — Sophie Wilmès, Belgium (incumbent)
2019 — Sanna Marin, Finland (incumbent)

Both President and Prime Minister
(*= acting President/Prime Minister)

1974 — Isabel Martínez de Perón, Argentina

1986 — Corazon Aquino, Phillipines

1990 — Violeta Chamorro, Nicaragua
1994 — Chandrika Kumaratunga, Sri lanka
1996 — Ruth Perry, Liberia
1997 — Rosalía Arteaga Serrano, Ecuador
1999 — Janet Jagan, Guyana
1999 — Mireya Moscoso, Panama

2001 — Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Phillipines
2001 — Megawati Sukarnoputri, Indonesia
2006 — Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia
2006 — Michelle Bachelet, Chile
2007 — Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Argentina
2008 — Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, South Africa *

2010 — Laura Chinchilla, Costa Rica
2011 — Dilma Rousseff, Brazil
2012 — Joyce Banda, Malawi
2013 — Park Geun-hye, South Korea
2016 — Hilda Heine, Marshall Islands
2016 — Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan (incumbent)
2019 — Jeanine Áñez, Bolivia (incumbent)

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