25 places where women are in charge

From all-women diving teams to female heads of state, here are destinations around the world where women hold power.

By Becky Little
Published 8 Mar 2019, 09:41 GMT
Berlin, Germany
The Spree River flows through Germany’s capital of Berlin, where Chancellor Angela Merkel has served as the country’s first female head of state since 2005. During her four terms, she has become a global leader in the fight against climate change. Recently, she voiced support for student strikes demanding climate action.
Photograph by Thomas Schweigert, 13 Photo, Redux

Women have ruled for thousands of years. There’s Neithhotep, who became the first queen of Egypt roughly 5,000 years ago, followed a few centuries later by Kubaba, who became queen of Sumer in present-day Iraq. Through the millennia, the balance has wavered, but female leaders are making their mark in the modern world, too. Since 1960, at least 59 countries have elected their first female head of state. Queen Elizabeth II has been Britain's since 1953 – a record reign of over 65 years, making her the longest-serving current head of state of either gender, and the longest ever female. Britain voted in its first female Prime Minister – Margaret Thatcher – in 1979. 

Electing a female head of state is a milestone that the United States notoriously dodged in 2016, and could potentially meet in 2020. (Read more: Who was the most powerful woman in ancient history?)

Clearly, there’s still a long way to go towards women’s equal representation in government and society. This year on March 8, International Women’s Day is highlighting the problem of gender imbalance with the theme #BalanceforBetter

In these photos, we highlight countries, cities, and communities around the world where women hold important political and social positions. Add a few to your travel bucket list—and see how you can get involved at home, too.

Learn more: the National Geographic book, When Women Ruled the World, explores the lives of six remarkable female pharaohs.
Becky Little is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter at @MsBeckyLittle.

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