Women Heads Of States Who Defied The Order And Made Their Own Mark: Part 2

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This is the continuation of the two-part article on those those woman leaders who were the first to make their mark in the male-dominated order and left a lasting impression on their respective countries. If you missed the first five names you can get them here.

Here are the remaining five names to round up the list:

5. Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan

(June 21, 1953 - December 7, 2007)

Prime Ministerial Terms: 1988-90, 1993-96

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Source: Pinterest

The Harvard educated Benazir Bhutto was Pakistan’s first woman Prime Minister and served two terms. She was the daughter of politician Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, leader of Pakistan from 1971-77. She took over the Pakistan People’s Party’s reins after her father’s assassination in 1979. She later went into exile from 1984-86 in wake of the military rule in Pakistan, returning in ‘86 only after the martial law was lifted. She became the Prime Minister after the death of President Zia by a mysterious plane crash.

Her Prime Ministerial term from 1980-90 was not a successful one. Her government failed to curb corruption, aid the failing economy and was unable to provide much needed stability to the country. Her government on charges of corruption by the then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan. In 1993, she again won the election and became the Prime Minister for the second time. She could not do any better than the previous term, however, as the allegations of rampant corruptions were even louder this time. And again, her government was dismissed by President Farooq Leghari. She later went into exile to evade arrest and went to live in Dubai and London. Her demand of allowing her amnesty were rejected again and again by the Pakistani government. Her husband was in jail and only got out in 2004 on bail. After eight years of exile, she was granted amnesty and returned to Pakistan in 2007, only to be assassinated while campaigning for the parliamentary elections.

4. Sheikh Hasina Wazed, Bangladesh

(September 28, 1947)

Prime Ministerial Terms: 1996-2001, 2009-

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Source: Daily-sun

Sheikh Hasina Wazed is the current serving Prime Minister of Bangladesh. She is the daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, main architect of Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan in 1971. Sheikh Hasina became involved in politics early on when she was at the University of Dhaka. She was even briefly imprisoned during the Bangladesh’s independence movement against Pakistan. In 1975, her father, mother and three brothers were assassinated in their home by military officers. Hasina, who was out of the country, spent the next six years in exile and returned in 1981. As the leader of Awami league, she advocated democracy and despite a few house arrests, rose to the rank of leader of opposition.

1990 marked the end of military leadership in bangladesh and after losing the immediate elections, accused the elected Bangladesh Nationalist Party of dishonesty during elections. There were a number of violent protest during the BNP regime. The Prime Minister Khaleda Zia succumbed to the pressure and resigned, thus clearing the way for Hasina to take the post in 1996. She became the first to complete all five years of her term and concentrated on strengthening the economy. However, she was not able to bring stability to the country and was defeated by BNP in the following elections.

In 2007, she, along with her rival Zia were arrested when the military-backed interim government declared emergency during the Bangladeshi political crisis, but were later released on bail. She returned to power in 2009 and has since been power after winning the elections again in 2014.

3. Helen Elizabeth Clark, New Zealand

(February 26, 1950)

Prime Ministerial Term: 1999-2008

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Source: Quotationof

Helen Clark was the second woman Prime Minister of New Zealand after Jenny Shipley, her predecessor. She grew up on a sheep and cattle farm and later left her home at 12 for school. She gained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Auckland in political science and taught from 1973 to 1981. She joined the labour party in 1971 and was later elected to Parliament in 1981. When New Zealand adopted the antinuclear policy, she was one of main driving forces behind it.

After rising through the ranks she served as the Deputy Prime Minister in 1989-90 and in 1990 was appointed to the Privy Council. Her ascension within the party continued despite losing the elections and she became the leader of the opposition in 1993. Her party won the elections in 1999 and she became the Prime Minister. She had a diverse cabinet ministry with 11 women and 4 Maori. Her focus was on equality, peace and promoting democratic values and opposed US and UK’s invasion of Iraq. She did not back away from controversial issues such as Maori rights and sex civil unions. She was reelected in 2002 and again in 2005, thus becoming the only Prime Minister to serve three terms. After losing the elections in 2008, she stepped down as the party leader. Her work and reputation earned her the position of administrator of United Nations Development Programme. Currently, she continues to work for the UN in the same capacity.

2. Angela Merkel, Germany

(July 17, 1954)

Term as Chancellor of Germany: 2005-

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Source: Time

Angela Merkel is the current Chancellor of Germany and the first woman to hold the post. Born Angela Kesner, she grew up in East Germany and went on to study physics at Karl Marx University in 1973. It was here that she met her first husband Ulrich Merkel. They married in 1977 but divorced in 1982, though Angela kept her husband’s last name. Merkel was an exceptional student and was awarded doctorate for her work on quantum chemistry in 1986.

Her foray into politics started after the fall of Berlin wall in 1989, when she joined the newly founded Democratic Awakening and became the party’s spokesperson. Her party joined the conservative alliance for Germany along with German Social Union (DSU) and Christian Democratic Union (CDU). She later joined CDU in 1990, becoming its Deputy Spokesperson just a day before reunification of Germany 1990. In the postreunification elections, she won the seat in Bundestag (lower parliament) and became Minister for Women and Youth. She rose through the ranks and in 1994 became Minister of Environment. CDU then went through a difficult time as the party was thrown out of the government and the then Chancellor and Merkel’s mentor Helmat Kohl was implicated in illegal campaign distributions. Merkel bravely called for a fresh start without the honorary chairman which won her many accolades. Merkel became the leader of CDU in 2000, first woman and non-catholic to hold the post.

In 2005, the CDU-CSU won 35.2 pc votes, beating SPD by 1 pc. After long negotiations, a coalition was formed with Merket at the head, becoming the first woman, first East german and youngest ever to become the Chancellor. She won another two terms as the chancellor, becoming only the third to do so. Her leadership is lauded for her balanced nature, her ability to handle any situation in a heady manner and helping the rise of Germany within the EU and on a global stage once again, even as the neighbouring countries, with a much better past, finding it unable to find a footing.

1. Dilma Vana Rousseff, Brazil

(December 14, 1947)

Presidential Term: 2011-16 (suspended)

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Source: Cdm

Dilma’s rise has not been as structured and methodical as some on this list like that of Angela Merkel. She was born to an immigrant lawyer father and a teacher mother and became involved in politics early in her teenage. In 1964, the Brazil’s President was overthrown by a coalition of civilian and military officials. Rouseff, just 17 at the time, joined the militant group National Liberation Command.

In 1968, she married a fellow activist Galeno Linhares. After a number of raids, the pair had to go into hiding. They later separated and divorced in 1981. Meanwhile in 1970, Rousseff was captured by government forces and imprisoned for three years, subjecting her to torture. After release she a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre in 1977 and moved to politics again. She was in and out of government works and in 1993 worked as secretary of mines, energy, and communications and was credited with increasing energy efficiency and power production within the state. In 1999 she was affiliated with Workers’ party and supported Lula’s Presidential campaign. Lula, after taking the office in 2003, made her Minister of Mines and Energy and in 2005 his chief of staff. Owing to the constitutional limit of two terms, Lula began supporting Rousseff as his successor.

In 2011, Rousseff became the first woman President of Brazil and 36th overall. Her first term was not very successful one her government frequently faced charges of corruption and five of her ministers, those who were retained from the Lula government, resigned. Brazil’s growth slowed down significantly from 7.5 in 2010 to 1.0 in 2012. There were violent protests against the government which even cast a shadow on the 2014 FIFA World Cup. it did not help that Brazil got thrashed by Germany 1-7, which brought back the attention of people to government problems. Brazil had gone into recession and in the upcoming polls Rousseff faced stern challenge for her second term. Nevertheless, she won 51 pc of the votes, against more than 48 pc of Aécio Neves of the Brazilian Social Democratic Party. Her second term was even more turbulent than the first and Lula, the former President her close aid, got embroiled in corruption charges. She made him the Chief of Staff as a precautionary measure but then she was accused of impeachment herself. On May 12, 2016, after an all-night debate, the Brazilian Senate voted 55 to 22 to suspend Rousseff and to begin an impeachment trial of her. Vice President Michel Temer became the acting President and will hold the seat till the end of term in 2018 if Rousseff is convicted.

Woman in today's world continue to make great strides and politics is just one of the areas in which they are making others realise that they are just as efficient as other men leaders before them. The latest to watch is Hillary Clinton, who, after a rather long wait for a country as 'forward' as USA, could be the first woman President to hold the position and become the latest addition to the list.

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