Sirimavo Bandaranaike
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Pioneering women in world politics

Sirimavo Bandaranaike
Sirimavo Bandaranaike, three-time prime minister of Sri Lanka, became the world’s first female prime minister in 1960. (Associated Press)
Michelle Bachelet
Michelle Bachelet takes in her victory after being sworn in as Chile’s first female president in March 2006. (Victor Ruiz / European Pressphoto Agency)
Benazir Bhutto
Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan became the Muslim world’s first female prime minister. (Ali Haider / European Pressphoto Agency)
Violeta Barrios de Chamorro
Violeta Barrios de Chamorro acknowledges her supporters before her inauguration in April 1990. She became the first female president not only of Nicaragua, but of Central America. (Associated Press)
Vigdís Finnbogadóttír
Vigdis Finnbogadottir, first female president of Iceland, chats with Empress Michiko before a concert at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on April 19, 1996. (Chiaki Tsukumo / Associated Press)
Indira Gandhi
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India watches demonstrators outside her residence in New Delhi on June 14, 1975. She served three consecutive terms, from 1966 to 1977, plus a fourth term, from 1980 to 1984, when she was assassinated by extremists. (Associated Press)
Golda Meir
Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir was a founder of the Jewish state and its first female premier. She served from 1969 to 1974. (Associated Press)
Angela Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the first woman to hold the post. (Remy de la Mauviniere / Associated Press)
Isabel Peron
Isabel Peron succeeded her husband, Juan, as president of Argentina in 1974, becoming the world’s first female president. (Eduardo Di Baia / Associated Press)
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher, Europe’s first female prime minister, was the only British prime minister in the 20th century to win three consecutive terms. She held the post from 1979 to 1990. (Matthew Fearn / Associated Press)
Corazon Aquino
Corazon Aquino served six turbulent years as president of the Philippines after helping lead hundreds of thousands in a “people power” revolution that brought down the corrupt regime of strongman Ferdinand E. Marcos in February 1986. By the end of her term, the woman who was named Time magazine’s “Woman of the Year” in 1987 and who won a standing ovation from a joint session of the U.S. Congress, had lost much of the global goodwill that accompanied her accession to power. (Alberto Marquez / Associated Press)