H is for Her, in charge

A whole JEOPARDY! category of WOMEN IN CHARGE (#6081, aired 2011-02-07)
$200: From 1966 to 1977 & from 1980 to 1984, she led the world’s largest democracy
$400: Vigdis Finnbogadottir led a theatre co. for many years before becoming this country’s president in 1980
$600: In 2010, before her term as president ended, Michelle Bachelet oversaw earthquake relief efforts in this country
$800: In 2009 Vilnius-born Dalia Grybauskaite became president of this country
$1,000 (Daily Double): President of the Philippines from 1986 to 1992, she passed away in 2009
Questions at the end of the post.

Countries that have had:
(yellow)Female heads of government
(dark orange) Female heads of state (including female representatives of heads of state (Governors-General and French Representatives of Andorra), excluding monarchs)
(light orange) Female heads of state and government (including female representatives of heads of state, excluding monarchs)

How many women are currently in the United States House of Representatives? How about the US Senate? I had to look it up. It’s 73 and 17, respectively, which puts the country 71st in terms of the number of women in national parliaments.

I’m a firm believer that progress in equality, whether it be gender-, ethnicity-, or sexual orientation-based is not truly achieved until one can no longer keep track of the achievement.

And how many US Presidents who were female have we had? Lessee – take the square root of…oh yeah, that would be zero. Not even Petunia Pig.

This is fascinating to me because other countries have had female heads of state and/or female heads of government for decades. According to the Wikipedia, the first female head of state was Khertek Anchimaa-Toka of the Tuvan People’s Republic, an independent state in Russia. The first one for a place I’ve actually HEARD of was Sükhbaataryn Yanjmaa of Mongolia, back in 1953. But the first woman who was head of government, generaly a more significant role in most countries which separate the functions, was Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1960. The second and third are much better known: Indira Ghandi of India and Golda Meir of Israel.

Of those currently in office, the female head of government with the longest tenure is Angela Merkel of Germany (pictured above), followed closely by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia (pictured right), who is the longest tenured of those women serving as both head of state and government. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina, Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica, and Dilma Rousseff of Brazil also currently hold both roles. Mary McAleese of Ireland and Tarja Halonen of Finland are the longest tenured female heads of state; the latter, talk show host Conan O’Brien claims, looks like him.


Today is International Woman’s Day, designed 100 years ago this month as a “global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.” Here is the website, and here is a history of the event, provided by the United Nations.

From the Census: In the US, National Women’s History Month dates back to March 8, 1857, when women from New York City factories staged a protest over working conditions. But it wasn’t until 1981 that Congress established National Women’s History Week to be commemorated the second week of March. In 1987, Congress expanded the week to a month. Every year since, Congress has passed a resolution for Women’s History Month, and the President has issued a proclamation.

JEOPARDY! questions-
Who was Indira Gandhi?
What is Iceland?
What is Chile?
What is Lithuania?
Who was Corazon Aquino?

ABC Wednesday – Round 8

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