Ten women are presidents of their countries. While some of these are ceremonial positions, a further eight are leaders of their governments. The list keeps growing.
Since Dilma Rousseff’s election as Brazilian head of state late on Sunday, the world now has ten women presidents.
Most of these are the first women to lead their countries - with the exception of Doris Leuthard who is Switzerland’s third female president and Ireland’s Mary McAleese who succeeds Mary Robinson.
In pictures - the world's women leaders
Dilma Rousseff, chosen successor to Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, became president-elect after a successful election in October 2010. She becomes president at the beginning of January 2011. (Photo: AFP)
Listed by Forbes Magazine as the world's most powerful woman, Angela Merkel is Germany's first female Chancellor. In 2007 she became the second woman to chair the G8, after former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. (Photo: AFP)
Cristina Kirchner is second female President of Argentina although the first to have been democratically elected. She is the widow of former President Nestor Kirchner who died on October 27, 2010, aged 60. (Photo: AFP)
Laura Chinchilla has been president of Costa Rica since May 2010, becoming Latin America's sixth female leader. (Photo: US Embassy, Costa Rica)
Mary McAleese is Ireland's second woman president. The former barrister, journalist and academic has been Irish president since 1997. (Photo: AFP)
Pratibha Patil, 74, is India's 12th president, a position she has held since 2007. She had previously held ministerial positions in Indian government for half a century. (Photo: AFP)
German-speaking Doris Leuthard is President of the Swiss Confederation for the year 2010. (Photo: AFP)
Julia Gillard became Australian prime minister after closely-fought general elections in June 2010. She heads the Australian Labor Party. (Photo: AFP)
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, 72, is the 24th President of Liberia, the only nation in African history to have a democratically elected female leader. (Photo: Antonio Cruz-AB)
Iveta Radicova has been Slovakian Prime Minister at the head of a four-party coalition since elections in June 2010. (Photo: AFP)
Often referred to as the "Iron Lady" (a nickname attributed in the 80s to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher), Dalia Grybauskaite has been Lithuanian president since her election in July 2009. (Photo: Andrius Miezelis)
Jadranka Kosor, who became Croatian prime minister in July 2009, is the Balkan country's first female leader since independence from the former Yugoslavia. (Photo: AFP)
Iceland's Prime Minister Johanna Siguroardottir has been an active politician in the country's Athling (parliament) since 1978. She became prime minister in January 2009. (Photo: AFP)
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
Kamla Persad-Bissessar was elected Trinidad and Tobago's first female Prime Minister under President and former Prime Minister George Maxwell Richards. (Photo: AFP)
Roza Otunbayeva was sworn in as Kyrgyz president on July 3, 2010, after acting as interim leader following the 2010 April revolution which led to the ousting of then President Kurmanbek Bakiyev. (Photo: AFP)
Career politician Sheikh Hasina Wazed was the oldest daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the first Bangladeshi president. She held the office of prime minister from 1996-2001, and then from 2008. (Photo: AFP)
Human rights campaigner Tarja Halonen is the first female president of Finland, a position she has held since 2000.
Latin America now has three - Cristina Kirchner in Argentina (wife of the late Nestor, himself a former head of state) and Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica are now joined by Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff.
Europe leads with four women presidents – Tarja Halonen in Finland, Mary McAleese in Ireland, Doris Leuthard in Switzerland and Dalia Grybauskaite in Lithuania.
Asia also has two women presidents - Roza Otounbayeva in Kyrgyzstan and Pratibha Patil in Inde.
Africa trails with just one – Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a US-educated economist, who is the only female head of state to be elected by universal suffrage in African history.
But, the position of president is often a representative role wielding little actual power, as is the case in Switzerland and India.
A further seven women, who are not heads of state but are nevertheless heads of government, are worth including, such as Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (named by Forbes Magazine as the world's most powerful woman).
SPOTLIGHT: WOMEN IN POWER
Date created : 2010-11-01