Humanities › History & Culture Women Prime Ministers and Presidents: 20th Century Share Flipboard Email Print Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images History & Culture Women's History Important Figures History Of Feminism Key Events Women's Suffrage Women & War Laws & Womens Rights Feminism & Pop Culture Feminist Texts American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century View More By Jone Johnson Lewis Women's History Writer B.A., Mundelein College M.Div., Meadville/Lombard Theological School Jone Johnson Lewis is a women's history writer who has been involved with the women's movement since the late 1960s. She is a former faculty member of the Humanist Institute. our editorial process Jone Johnson Lewis Updated July 02, 2019 How many women have served as Presidents or Prime Ministers in the 20th century? Included are women leaders of countries both large and small. Many names will be familiar; some will be unfamiliar to all but a few readers. (Not included: women who became presidents or prime ministers after the year 2000.) Some were highly controversial; some were compromise candidates. Some presided over peace; others over war. Some were elected; some were appointed. Some served briefly; others were elected; one, though elected, was prevented from serving. Many followed into office their fathers or husbands; others were elected or appointed on their own reputations and political contributions. One even followed her mother into politics, and her mother served a third term as prime minister, filling the office left vacant when the daughter took office as president. Women Prime Minister and Presidents Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Sri Lanka (Ceylon)Her daughter became president of Sri Lanka in 1994 and appointed her mother to the more ceremonial office of prime minister. The office of president was created in 1988 and given many of the powers the prime minister had had when Sirimavo Bandaranaike held the office.Prime Minister, 1960-1965, 1970-1977, 1994-2000. Sri Lanka Freedom Party.Indira Gandhi, IndiaPrime Minister, 1966-77, 1980-1984. Indian National Congress.Golda Meir, IsraelPrime Minister, 1969-1974. Labor Party.Isabel Martinez de Peron, ArgentinaPresident, 1974-1976. Justicialist.Elisabeth Domitien, Central African RepublicPrime Minister, 1975-1976. Movement for the Social Evolution of Black Africa.Margaret Thatcher, Great BritainPrime Minister, 1979-1990. Conservative.Maria da Lourdes Pintasilgo, PortugalPrime Minister, 1979-1980. Socialist Party.Lidia Gueiler Tejada, BoliviaPrime Minister, 1979-1980. Revolutionary Left Front.Dame Eugenia Charles, DominicaPrime Minister, 1980-1995. Freedom Party.Vigdís Finnbogadóttír, IcelandPresident, 1980-96. Longest-serving female head of state in the 20th century.Gro Harlem Brundtland, NorwayPrime Minister, 1981, 1986-1989, 1990-1996. Labour Party.Soong Ching-Ling, Peoples' Republic of ChinaHonorary President, 1981. Communist Party.Milka Planinc, YugoslaviaFederal Prime Minister, 1982-1986. League of Communists.Agatha Barbara, MaltaPresident, 1982-1987. Labour Party.Maria Liberia-Peters, Netherlands AntillesPrime Minister, 1984-1986, 1988-1993. National People's Party.Corazon Aquino, PhilippinesPresident, 1986-92. PDP-Laban. Benazir Bhutto, PakistanPrime Minister, 1988-1990, 1993-1996. Pakistan Peoples Party.Kazimiera Danuta Prunskiena, LithuaniaPrime Minister, 1990-91. Peasant and Green Union.Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, NicaraguaPrime Minister, 1990-1996. National Opposition Union.Mary Robinson, IrelandPresident, 1990-1997. Independent.Ertha Pascal Trouillot, HaitiInterim President, 1990-1991. Independent.Sabine Bergmann-Pohl, German Democratic RepublicPresident, 1990. Christian Democratic Union.Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma (Myanmar )Her party, the National League for Democracy, won 80% of the seats in a democratic election in 1990, but the military government refused to recognize the results. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.Khaleda Zia, BangladeshPrime Minister, 1991-1996. Bangladesh Nationalist Party.Edith Cresson, FrancePrime Minister, 1991-1992. Socialist Party.Hanna Suchocka, PolandPrime Minister, 1992-1993. Democratic Union.Kim Campbell, CanadaPrime Minister, 1993. Progressive Conservative.Sylvie Kinigi, BurundiPrime Minister, 1993-1994. Union for National Progress.Agathe Uwilingiyimana, RwandaPrime Minister, 1993-1994. Republican Democratic Movement.Susanne Camelia-Romer, Netherlands Antilles (Curaçao)Prime Minister, 1993, 1998-1999. PNP.Tansu Çiller, TurkeyPrime Minister, 1993-1995. Democrat Party.Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge, Sri LankaPrime Minister, 1994, President, 1994-2005Reneta Indzhova, BulgariaInterim Prime Minister, 1994-1995. Independent.Claudette Werleigh, HaitiPrime Minister, 1995-1996. PANPRA.Sheikh Hasina Wajed, BangladeshPrime Minister, 1996-2001, 2009-. Awami League.Mary McAleese, IrelandPresident, 1997-2011. Fianna Fail, Independent.Pamela Gordon, BermudaPremier, 1997-1998. United Bermuda Party.Janet Jagan, GuyanaPrime Minister, 1997, President, 1997-1999. People's Progressive Party.Jenny Shipley, New ZealandPrime Minister, 1997-1999. National Party.Ruth Dreifuss, SwitzerlandPresident, 1999-2000. Social Democratic Party.Jennifer M. Smith, BermudaPrime Minister, 1998-2003. Progressive Labour Party.Nyam-Osoriyn Tuyaa, MongoliaActing Prime Minister, July 1999. Democratic Party.Helen Clark, New ZealandPrime Minister, 1999-2008. Labour Party.Mireya Elisa Moscoso de Arias, PanamaPresident, 1999-2004. Arnulfista Party.Vaira Vike-Freiberga, LatviaPresident, 1999-2007. Independent.Tarja Kaarina Halonen, FinlandPresident, 2000-. Social Democratic Party. I've included Halonen because the year 2000 is part of the 20th century. (The year "0" didn't exist, so a century starts with the year "1.") As the 21st century arrived, yet another was added: Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo - President of the Philippines, sworn in on January 20, 2001. Mame Madior Boye became Prime Minister in Senegal in March of 2001. Megawati Sukarnoputri, daughter of founding head of state Sukarno, was selected as Indonesia's fifth president in 2001 after losing in 1999. I've limited the list above, however, to the history of women heads of state for the 20th century, and will not add anyone who took office after 2001 began. Text © Jone Johnson Lewis.