When America chose between two male presidential candidates in November 2000, one
might have wondered why a woman has never been a serious contender for the highest
office in the nation. The concept of a woman in power is not farfetched. Women
have been queens of nations, tribal chiefs and empresses throughout history.
As prime minister of India from 1966 to 1977
and 1980 to 1984, Gandhi led the world's
largest democracy. Indians called her Mataji, or "respected mother."
Meir moved to
Palestine in 1921 from Milwaukee and quickly became a leader in the Zionist
movement. She was elected to the legislature of
Israel in 1949 and served as prime
minister from 1969 to 1974.
Thatcher began her
long career in Great Britain's Parliament in
1959. She was the first female prime minister and the longest serving. She
advocated conservative economic policies during her tenure from 1979 to
The first popularly elected female president in history,
Finnbogadottir defeated three men in her first run
for Iceland's presidency in 1980. She worked to modernize
improve the status of women until the end of her fourth term in 1996.
Mary Eugenia Charles
The first female lawyer on the Caribbean island of
Dominica, Charles was elected prime minister after
the island gained independence from Great Britain in 1978. Known as the
"Iron Woman of the Caribbean,"
economic reforms and environmental protections during her three-term tenure.
Bhutto served as prime minister of
Pakistan from 1988 to 1990 and 1993 to 1996 during
the country's woes with huge debt, the heroin trade and Afghan refugees.
Chamorro became the first women to be elected president in the Western
Hemisphere when she won the elections in
Nicaragua in 1990. Her
reforms failed to help the country's ailing economy and she retired in 1997.