Women of Power: 10 Examples of Female Heads of State

On the 15th of September 2011, Denmark’s general elections were held. The incumbent Venstre party lost to a center-left coalition led by the Social Democrats party, and Helle Thorning-Schmidt became the Scandinavian nation’s first female Prime Minister.

Her arrival in such a prominent position of power was a monumental occasion for Denmark, with Thorning-Schmidt following in the footsteps of many other women all around the world who rose through the political ranks of their respective countries to become the official head of state.

With social progress and feminist movements becoming an increasingly important part of modern life, more and more female leaders will undoubtedly be elected in the years to come, but for now, let’s take a look back at some of the most important female heads of state of the last century.

Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt

Born in Copenhagen, Helle Thorning-Schmidt graduated from the city’s university with a degree in political science. She served as a Member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2004 and was elected to the Danish Parliament in 2005. She quickly became Leader of the Social Democrats and led the party through the 2007 and 2011 elections, winning the latter.


Prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt of Denmark attends the inauguration of the house of foreign industry on June 10, 2013, in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo by Torsten Laursen/Getty Images)

Thorning-Schmidt steered the country through a time of financial crisis, as well as easing immigration laws and introducing sensible tax reform. She retired from politics and has since become the CEO of Save the Children, providing health care, education, and other vital services to millions of underprivileged children all around the world.

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