A woman as head of government is a little less sensational, since the Netherlands is an outsider in Europe.

In more than 40 percent of the world’s countries, a woman has once held the highest position. This is clear from data from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) think tank. The CFR only includes elected or appointed officials. Queens and other hereditary positions are not included. Interim leaders are also left out, so Liz Truss, former UK prime minister, does not count.

This year, a woman will not only come to power for the first time in Mexico. Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova is the first female president of North Macedonia, Judith Suminwa is the future prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Iceland and Malta also elected a woman this year, but it was not the first time for those countries. Iceland has had a female president three times before and Malta twice. Of the 194 countries inventoried, 80 of them have had a woman in power at least once.

Asia led the way with women at the top. The first democratically elected head of state was Sirimavo Bandaranaike in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, in 1960. Six years later, Indira Gandhi followed her in India and Golda Meir in Israel in 1969.

Europe now has relatively the largest number of countries where a woman is or has been head of government or state. The Netherlands is a minority within Europe. More than two-thirds of European countries have had a woman as president or prime minister at least once.

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