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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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