Greece elects its first woman president, here’s what you should know

Plus, a list of the world’s female presidents so far ??

Greece elects its first woman president, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, in the country’s history. This is what you should know about her. And also, here’s a list of female presidents from around the world.

Related: First Woman President Has Been Elected in Taiwan


Here’s what you need to know about her:

Apart from the fact that she is the first woman president in the history of Greece, she’s still pretty damn impressive.


This is not the first time she’s broken a glass ceiling. As a (very) senior high court judge, Katerina Sakellaropoulou was also the first woman ever to head up the Council of State. This is the top administrative court in Greece BTW.

Her background is in environmental and constitutional law. She studied in France at Paris’s Sorbonne University.

She is 63 years old.

Her politics are progressive in terms of civil rights, refugee rights, gay marriage, and environmental protections, according to Fast Company.

The majority vote that she received, News24 reports, was across party lines, with a total of 261 MPs in her favour.

Related: Teen climate activist Ayakha Melithafa reps South Africa alongside Greta Thunberg


What you need to know about the Greek government

So, not all governments work the same way and not all presidents have equal power within them. Here’s the deal in Greece:

Although the Greek president is the head of state, the position is ‘largely ceremonial‘. What does this mean? Greek presidents confirm laws and can declare war. But only in conjunction with the government. So she has power, but there are limits.

This is not, for example, the way it works in the USA.

Related: Here’s what Donald Trump’s impeachment actually means


List of female presidents around the world:

In the male-dominated realm of global politics, it’s always refreshing to see women represented. You might be wondering just how much progress is really being made.

Well, in chronological order, according to CNN and AFJN, here are the female presidents or prime ministers from around the world who have preceded Katerina Sakellaropoulou.

Note how the list has grown from the ’60s until now. There was a serious jump in the ’90s!


1960 – 1969: Three woman presidents 

Sri Lanka: Sirimavo Bandaranaike, 1960

India: Indira Gandhi, 1966

Israel: Golda Meir, 1969

(Hold on, it does start to get better, slowly, but still).


1970 – 1979: Four woman presidents 

Argentina: Isabel Perón, 1974

Central African Republic: Elisabeth Domitien, 1975

Portugal: Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo, 1979

United Kingdom: Margaret Thatcher, 1979

(Okay, VERY slowly).


1980 – 1989: Six woman presidents 

Dominica: Eugenia Charles, 1980

Iceland: Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, 1980

Norway: Gro Harlem Brundtland, 1981

Malta: Agatha Barbara, 1982

Philippines: Corazon Aquino, 1986

Pakistan: Benazir Bhutto, 1988

(Wait for it…)


1990 – 1999: Sixteen woman presidents 

Ireland: Mary Robinson, 1990

Lithuania: Kazimira Danutė Prunskienė, 1990

Nicaragua: Violeta Barrios Torres de Chamorro, 1990

Bangladesh: Khaleda Zia, 1991

France: Édith Cresson, 1991

Poland: Hanna Suchocka, 1992

Burundi: Sylvie Kinigi, 1993

Canada: Kim Campbell, 1993

Rwanda: Agathe Uwilingiyimana, 1993

Turkey: Tansu Çiller, 1993

Haiti: Claudette Werleigh, 1995

Guyana: Janet Rosenberg, 1997

New Zealand: Jenny Shipley, 1997

Latvia: Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, 1999

Panama: Mireya Elisa Moscoso Rodríguez, 1999

Switzerland: Ruth Dreifuss, 1999

(Getting better…)


2000 – 2009: Fifteen woman presidents 

Finland: Tarja Halonen, 2001

Indonesia: Megawati Sukarnoputri, 2001

Senegal: Mame Madior Boye, 2001

São Tomé and Príncipe: Maria das Neves, 2002

Peru: Beatriz Merino, 2003

Macedonia: Radmila Šekerinska, 2004

Mozambique: Luísa Diogo, 2004

Germany: Angela Merkel, 2005

Ukraine: Yulia Tymoshenko, 2005

Chile: Michelle Bachelet, 2006

Jamaica: Portia Simpson-Miller, 2006

Liberia: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, 2006

South Korea: Han Myung-sook, 2006

Moldova: Zinaida Greceanîi, 2008

Croatia: Jadranka Kosor, 2009

(Now we’re talking)


2010 – now: Seventeen woman presidents 

Australia: Julia Gillard, 2010

Costa Rica: Laura Chinchilla, 2010

Kyrgyzstan: Roza Otunbayeva, 2010

Slovakia: Iveta Radičová, 2010

Trinidad and Tobago: Kamla Persad-Bissessar, 2010

Denmark: Helle Thorning-Schmidt, 2011

Kosovo: Atifete Jahjaga, 2011

Mali: Cissé Mariam Kaïdama Sidibé, 2011

Thailand: Yingluck Shinawatra, 2011

Malawi: Joyce Banda, 2012

Slovenia: Alenka Bratušek, 2013

Brazil: Dilma Rousseff, 2014

Mauritius: Ameenah Firdaus Gurib-Fakim, 2015

Namibia: Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, 2015

Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, 2016

New Zealand: Jacinda Ardern, 2017

Ethiopia: Sahle-Work Zewde, 2018


And now, Katerina Sakellaropoulou will take her oath of office – and her place in history – in March this year. Congratulations to the first woman president in Greece, we wish her all of the best!

Related: Meet the European Commission’s First Female President

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