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February 22, 2012 11:50 am

A Brief History of the World’s First Three Female Prime Ministers

avatar by Lakkana Nanayakkara

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India Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (left) with Shah Reza Pahlavi of Iran (center) and Farah Pahlavi (right), during a state visit to India in 1970. Photo: wiki commons.

March 17 will be the 43rd anniversary of Golda Meir’s election as the fourth Prime Minister of Israel. She was Israel’s first and the world’s third female prime minister.  Meir was born on May 3, 1898, in Kiev, which was then part of the Russian Empire and is now located in modern day Ukraine. Her family immigrated to the United States where she later married Morris Meyerson before immigrating to the British Mandate of Palestine in 1921.

Meir was one of 24 signatories of the Israeli Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948. She served as Israel’s ambassador to the Soviet Union, Minister of Labour and Foreign Minister before becoming the prime minister in March 17, 1969.

Following the Yom Kippur War, Meir’s government was heavily criticized for Israel’s lack of preparedness but her party won the subsequent elections. She resigned on April 11, 1974.

While Golda Meir was the first female prime minister of Israel, the first female prime minister and head of government in the world was Sirimavo Bandaranaike. She served as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, then known as of Ceylon, three times with her first term beginning on July 21, 1960.

The second female head of government in the world was Indira Gandhi. She became the first female Prime Minister of India on January 24, 1966.

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  • Charles Nankin

    the article is entirely truthful, in no way misleading, and focuses on the special interest area of the publication’s readers.

    heres another one that will get you going: the story of possibly the greatest act of peacemaking in the subcontinent –

  • although we say Mrs Sirimavo bandaranaike is the First Female Prime Minister, she was not elected but appointed through the Senate, which was scrapped with the 1972 Republican Constitution.
    the first elected PM is from India and then from Israel…?
    was there no acting lady premiers before 1960s… baladaeva

  • who made this

  • nice website who made this

  • wow intresting info

  • Abul Alam

    From your OWN statement, Sirimavo Bandaranaike is the first Female Prime Minister in the world, Indira Gandhithe second and Golda Meir the THIRD.WELL, THEN why do you deal with and give details only about the THIRD ONE first and foremost? Any valid reason? This is ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE.I humbly demand an explanation, please!

    • Adam

      Abul Alam,

      Probably because “March 17 will be the 43rd anniversary of Golda Meir’s election as the fourth Prime Minister of Israel.”

      Usually, if it is a particular anniversary for one individual in a short list, it is customary to focus on their achievements. If it was the anniversary of Indira Gandhi, I would expect them to focus on her impact on history, etc.

    • charlie

      You can request for an explanation but you cant demand one. It’s common courtesy, good manners and respect earn you the same in return. If something is not clear and you need clarification request for it and make no demands specially when you are not paying for the service.