PART 2 (1800-…..)
They were women who guided their societies, struggled against their circumstances, were accomplished, powerful, intelligent and determined…who changed the World…Some of them have long departed from among us and some of them are still with us…We honor them all with respect.
TZ’U HSI, (1835-1908) – EMPRESS OF CHINA
Tz’u-hsi was actually Emperor Hs’en Feng’s mistress; but when she gave birth to the Emperor’s only son in 1856, she gained a great deal of power. Whenthe Emperor died in 1861, she became the sole ruler of China; not a single decree could be issued without the approval of the Dowager Empress. China’s overwhelming defeat against the Japanese in 1890 resulted in a conservative coup. During the boxer Rebellion in 1900, the Empress fled the country; however she returned to the country after one year in order to carry out reforms. Among these reforms were the ban against the binding of young girls’ feet, permission for intermarriage between the Chinese and Manchurians and allowing state education to be available also for girls.
INDIRA GANDHI, (1917-1984) – PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA
The daughter of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi played a major role in Indian politics for nearly 30 years. During her political career, Gandhi served as President of the National Congress Party (1959) and Minister of Knowledge and Communications. She became the first female Prime Minister of India in 1966. In 1975, facing local unrest and accusations of forced election laws, Gandhi declared martial law, suspending civil liberties and ordering the arrest of thousands of political opponents. Despite an overwhelming defeat in the elections of 1977, she managed a remarkable comeback three years later and continued serving as Prime Minister until her murder by a Sikh assassin in 1984.
VIGDIS FINNBOGADOTTIR (1930-…)-PRESIDENT OF ICELAND
Even though Finnbogadottir may be better known as the President of Iceland, her life carries the marks of her cultural ties to her country. Her work at the Iceland Tourism Bureau, her education in the history of Iceland’s cultural ties, her management of the Reykjavik Theater Organization, her teaching experience in Icelandic culture and her work at the Scandinavian Council Cultural Affairs Advisory Committee have helped transform her into a Cultural Ambassador for Iceland. After Finnbogadottir became President in 1980, she was elected to the same position twice in 1984 and 1988.
CORAZON AQUINO, (1933-…) – PRESIDENT OF PHILIPPINES
Aquino served as President of the Philippines from 1986 to 1992. Aquino’s husband Benigno S. Aquino Jr. Used to be an opposition leader until 1983 when he was assassinated. Aquino was educated in the United States and, in addition to being a housewife and a mother, she maintained her husband’s hidden ties with the outside World during the period when he was incarcerated (1972-1980). Following the death of her husband, Aquino took over the role of opposition leader against President Ferdinand Marcos. She objected to the results of the election in 1985 and, without having to resort to force, she brought him down from power.
TANSU CILLER, (1946-….)- Prime Minister of Turkey
A graduate of the American College for Girls and the Economics Department of Robert College, Tansu Çiller obtained her doctorate degree from the University of Connecticut and conducted her postdoctoral work at Yale University. She became assistant professor in 1978 and full professor in 1983. She has nine publications on economics. Married with two children, she worked at several universities led by Boğaziçi University and entered politics in 1990. She served as a parliamentary deputy from Istanbul in 1991 and later Minister of State. In 1993, she was elected Party Chair for the DYP and became Turkey’s first female Prime Minister. She served as Prime Minister until 1996. Due to the low-intensity war that was waged against the terrorist group PKK during her tenure as Prime Minister, she contributed to the modernization of the Turkish Armed Forces and signed the Customs Agreement with the EU. She served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister during the coalition administration of RP and DYP. During the 2002 early general elections, her party was unable to meet the necessary number of votes upon which she resigned from her post as party chair and retired from active politics.
BENAZIR BHUTTO, (1953-2007)-PRIME MINISTER OF PAKISTAN
Benazir Bhutto was born in Karachi; after studying political science at Harvard and international law at Oxford, she returned to Pakistan. During a politically tumultuous period of 10 years, she was opposition leader at the Pakistan People’s Party. She was arrested nine times and spent nearly six years in carceration before she became prime minister in 1988. As the first woman to be elected prime minister in an Islamic country, she defended democracy, education and health reform for the poor and promised an end to the discrimination against women. Author of foreign policy form a perspective and the autobiography Daughter of Destiny, she received the Bruno Kreisky Human Rights Award in 1988. She was assassinated in Pakistan in December 2007.
Angela Merkel- (1954–…….)- CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY
Angela Dorothea Kasner, better known as Angela Merkel, was born in Hamburg, West Germany, on 1954, grew up in a rural area north of Berlin in the then German Democratic Republic. She studied physics at the University of Leipzig, earning a doctorate in 1978, and later worked as a chemist at the Central Institute for Physical Chemistry, Academy of Sciences from 1978 to 1990.Merkel is one of the architects of the European Union.
Merkel entered politics after the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall. Rising to the position of chairwoman of the CDU party, she became Germany’s first female chancellor and one of the leading figures of the European Union, following the 2005 national elections. She was appointed to Helmut Kohl’s cabinet as minister for women and youth, and later she served as minister for the environment and nuclear safety. Later she was named secretary-general of the CDU. In 2000, Merkel was chosen party leader, but she lost the CDU candidacy for chancellor to Edmund Stoiber in 2002. In the 2005 election, Merkel narrowly defeated Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, winning by just three seats, and after the CDU agreed a coalition deal with the Social Democrats (SPD), she was declared Germany’s first female chancellor. Merkel was reelected for a fourth term as chancellor in September 2017. Despite the challenge to her authority in the September election, Merkel topped Forbes’ list of the most powerful women in the world for the seventh consecutive year in 2017, and for the 12th time overall.
Also read: Part I