The highest glass ceiling might still be intact here in the US, but globally female leaders are becoming more and more visible—and making a major difference. Right now we have women in charge of the UK and the EU, as well as nations in Africa, Southeast Asia, South America and the Pacific Isles.
No matter their political affiliations, these fiercely dedicated women are committed to advancing causes that matter to all of us, from protecting the environment, to creating a more inclusive and peaceful society. And as it turns out, they’re doing an incredible job.
A growing body of evidence shows that women are actually more effective politicians than men. Our collaborative style means we’re willing to cross ideological lines to get things done. For example, did you know that US congresswomen are 31% better at furthering bills, attracting more co-sponsors than their male counterparts?
And it’s not just that women are more successful at passing legislation—we make an impact at the executive level, too. One study showed that in “highly diverse countries,” having a female leader leads to higher GDP growth, thanks to their unique ability to navigate divided societies.
For those of us in the Divine Living community, these findings should come as no surprise. As leaders ourselves, we deeply understand the value of having women at the table. While there are currently less than 20 women heads of state in a world with nearly 200 countries, our foot is in the door and we are poised to kick it open.
To celebrate International Women’s Day, we’re inviting you to get to know the women in power across the globe right now. Let’s all keep our eyes out for what these incredible ladies might do next.
Twice named the World’s Second Most Powerful Person by Forbes (and the Most Powerful Woman, 10 times in a row) Angela Merkel is known as the de facto leader of the European Union. The former research scientist holds a doctorate in physical chemistry, and entered politics around the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
The first female Prime Minister since Margaret Thatcher, Theresa May rose to power in the wake of Britain’s historic decision to leave the EU. A liberal-leaning conservative from the Tory Party, May took office less that three weeks after David Cameron announced his resignation, and is committed to making Brexit a success.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has broken quite a few glass ceilings. She’s the world’s first elected black female president and Africa’s first elected female head of state. Sirleaf spent some years in exile following a military coup, and ultimately returned to speak out against the regime. In 2011 she won the Nobel Peace Prize for her transformative work.
With a political career spanning four decades, Sheikh Hasina ranks 36th on Forbes’ list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. She’s also a member of the Council of Women Leaders, an international network of current and former women presidents and prime ministers.
Lithuania’s first female president also happens to be the first in the country’s history to be reelected for a second consecutive term. Clearly a savvy lady, Grybauskaitė famously replied to Theresa May’s suggestion that there needed to be a “bridge” between the EU and the US: “I don’t think there is a necessity for a bridge. We communicate with the Americans on Twitter.”
Known as a tough, no-nonsense leader, Erna Solberg’s election was a major victory for the conservative party in Norway. During her campaign, Solberg made clever use of social media to capture all segments of the electorate. Her cabinet is balanced with equal numbers of men and women, and members of two different parties.
Chile’s current President is something of a comeback queen. She had previously served from 2006 to 2010, becoming the first woman in her country to do so. After her term, she became Executive Director of the newly created UN Women, returning to Chile in 2013 to sweep another election with 62% of the vote.
For the leader of a small Mediterranean archipelago, Marie Louise Coleiro Preca has garnered quite a bit of international attention. In 2016 she received the Agent of Change Award from UN Women, recognizing her work in improving social inclusion and standards of living.
As campaign manager for President Andrzej Duda, Poland’s third female Prime Minister delivered a sweeping victory. Known for saying, “There is no more valuable thing than the common good,” her campaign relied on grassroots energy, promising to reduce the retirement age and raise the minimum wage.
The first woman and youngest person to be elected President in Croatia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic’s unexpected victory went against most opinion polls. And in her short time in office, she’s continued to make history. Most notable was her visit with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who since hailed Croatia as “Iran’s gateway to Europe.”
After thirty years in politics, Women’s Rights Campaigner Bidhya Bhandari has finally risen to the top of a male-dominated party in Nepal. Since assuming her new position, she’s worked to ensure a one-third quota for women in parliament and is focused on rebuilding the country’s infrastructure following the 2015 earthquake.
Namibia’s first woman Prime Minister is focused on three main things: climate change, racial and gender inequality and high levels of youth unemployment. While Namibia ranks 16th on the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report, the Prime Minister recognizes more progress still to be made.