There is an increasing number of women who have begun to take center stage in world politics, an area traditionally dominated by men. Despite this trend, the percentage of women represented in government continues to be significantly lower than that of men.
According to UN Women, the UN Entity For Gender Equality And The Empowerment Of Women, as of June 2013 there were 8 female Heads of State and 14 Heads of Government. In addition, only 20.9% of representatives in national parliament are women, which reflects a slow increase from the same data collected in 1995 which was around 11.6%.
Womenalia has compiled a list of the 10 most influential women in politics, and they are:
Michelle Bachelet is the current president-elect of Chile. A doctor by profession, Bachelet was the President of the Republic of Chile from 11 March 2006 until 11 March 2010. She was the first president of UNASUR and the first head of UN Women. Bachelet has been consistently ranked as the most popular politician by Chilean citizens.
Cristina Fernández Kirchner has been the president of Argentina since December 7th, 2007, and is the first woman to have been elected to this position. In the presidential elections of 2011 she obtained 54.11% of the votes, leading to her second term in office. In this election Kirchner achieved the highest percentage points in a presidential election since 1983, becoming the 4th most voted president in the history of Argentine elections.
Angela Merkel became the Chancellor of Germany in 2005. In the federal elections of 2013, Merkel, leader of the Christian Democratic Union, won 42% of the votes. She is the first woman in history to hold either position. Her influence in the European Union has been notorious since her rise to power. In fact she is often called "the decider". Forbes Magazine considers her one of the most powerful women in the world.
Dilma Rousseff has been President of Brazil since 2011. She is the first Brazilian woman to become President, and the third in Latin America following Bachelet (2006) and Kirchner (2007). With the military coup of 1964, Rousseff participated in the resistance movement against the military dictatorship. She as detained in 1970 and condemned by a military tribunal where she was held for 4 years. In 2010 she ran for President and was elected in the second round of votes by 56%.
Park Guen Hye, known as the "Ice Queen" was the first woman to become president of South Korea, a position she held until February 2013. Daughter of the late dictator Park Chunug-hee, she has publicly asked for forgiveness for the crimes and human rights violations committed during the coupe d'état that led to her father's rise to power. She has been focused on stopping the fall of the middle class and helping youth find adequate employment.
Christine Lagarde has been the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) since 2011. Prior, Lagarde held prominent positions in the French government, including that of Minister of Economics. She is the first woman to be Minister of Economics of any G8 country as well as the first woman to head the IMF. She also tops the Forbes list of the world's most powerful women in 2013.
Hillary Rodham Clinton has been making waves since she became First Lady in 1993. After husband left office in 2001, Clinton's own political career took off. She was a US Senator for New York from 2001-2009, and has come the furthest of any woman in the US presidential elections as a leading democratic candidate. She served as Secretary of State in the Obama administration from 2009- 2013.There is great speculation about her candidacy for the 2016 presidential elections.
Janet Yellen is Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. She is the first woman to direct the central bank, following her predecessor, Ben Bernanke. Yellen, 67 is a well-respected economist who has served as the vice-chairman of hte board since 2010. Her historic nomination was backed in the senate by 56 to 26 votes.
Sonia Gandhi is the President of the Indian National Congress, one of the most important political parties in the country. She is the widow of Rajiv Gandhi, former Prime Minister of India. Gandhi's political life has been marked by the tragedy in which her husband and mother-in-law, Indira Gandhi were assassinated. Sonia Gandhi, originally from Italy, has enormous political power in India, making her one of Forbes' Most Powerful Women in the World.
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has been the president of Liberia since January 2006, making her the first woman elected president in the continent of Aftica. On October 7th, 2011 she received the Nobel Peace Prize for her "non-violent struggle for the safety of women and women's rights to full participation in peace building work." She is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders whose mission is to mobilize highest-level women leaders globally for collective action on issues of critical importance to women.