Who belongs to the worldwide club of women leaders?

Nicola Sturgeon
New Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon has been elected first minister of Scotland. That means she will join other women leaders in a small club that includes no fewer than four "Iron Ladies" and one karate black belt. But who are they?

Women leaders

Name Profile Name Profile
Michelle Bachelet, Chile Michelle Bachelet

Left-wing Michelle Bachelet, a paediatrician by training, was forced to leave office in 2010 as the Chilean constitution doesn't allow for two consecutive presidential terms.

The Socialist Party politician was re-elected in 2013 by a wide margin, and she became the first Chilean leader since Gen Augusto Pinochet to serve two terms. In between her presidencies the openly agnostic separated mother-of-three headed UN Women, a new agency for promoting women's equality.

Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, Malta Marie Louise Coleiro Preca

Marie Louise Coleiro Preca succeeded George Abela to become the ninth president of Malta. At 55, she's the youngest president and the second woman to hold the position.

Mrs Coleiro Preca has been active in politics since the age of 16. A member of the country's Labour Party, she became General Secretary for nine years. As Minister for the Family and Social Solidarity, she set up Malta's first sexual assault crisis centre.

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Argentina Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, of the left-wing Front for Victory party, is Argentina's first elected female president. She was also half of an Argentine power couple to rival Juan and Evita Peron: her late husband Nestor Kirchner was also her political predecessor, serving as president from 2003 to 2007, when he died of a heart attack. She has attempted to address past human rights abuses and in 2010, Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalise same-sex marriage. But the country has battled economic problems and her enemies are quick to accuse her of corruption.

Dalia Grybauskaite, Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite

Lithuania's first female president enjoyed an emphatic victory in 2009 and was re-elected in 2014 - her anti-Russian platform won votes at a time when Lithuanians felt threatened by Russia. She served as a senior civil servant after the country became independent in 1990 and as finance minister for three years from 2001.

Ms Grybauskaite is not the only female leader to have earned the "Iron Lady" nickname - but she may be the only one with a black belt in karate.

Sheikh Hasina Wajed, Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina Wajed

Sheikh Hasina was sworn in for a third term as prime minister in 2014 after an unsurprising victory for her Awami League party. The general election was boycotted by the opposition who demanded a neutral caretaker to oversee voting. Ms Hasina is the daughter of Sheikh Mijibur Rahman, Bangladesh's founding father and first president. She was forced into exile after his murder in a 1975 coup, but won the 1996 election to become prime minister. Her first term was dogged by corruption claims. She has also survived an assassination attempt.

Atifete Jahjaga, Kosovo Atifete Jahjaga

Atifete Jahjaga was elected Kosovo's first female president by parliament, thereby becoming the first female head of state of the modern Balkans. At 39, she's also the youngest to be elected to the office. She replaced the Swiss-Kosovan tycoon Behgjet Paco, whose election was ruled unlawful.

Ms Jahjaga, a former Deputy Director of the Kosovo Police, was chosen as an interim compromise candidate until parliament agrees on direct popular elections for the presidency.

Ana Jara, Peru Ana Jara and Ollanta Humala

Trained lawyer and member of the Peruvian Nationalist Party Ana Jara served as Minister of Women and Social development before becoming the sixth prime minister of the country in less than three years. Her predecessor Rene Cornejo resigned in July 2014 following allegations that one of his advisors paid to discredit an opponent. She works with President Ollanta Humala, a career army officer who won the June 2011 election with his promises to respect democracy and help the poor.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is another female leader whose supporters borrow the "Iron Lady" title. The 76-year-old became Africa's first elected female head of state when Liberia's 14-year civil war ended in 2005. In 2011, she was re-elected - the same year she won the Nobel Peace Prize. Mrs Sirleaf was imprisoned in the 1980s for criticising Samuel Does' military regime, and initially backed Charles Taylor's rebellion, for which she's since apologised. She was charged with treason and returned to exile after Taylor beat her in the 1997 presidential election.

Ewa Kopacz, Poland Ewa Kopacz

Ewa Kopacz, of the centre-right Civic Platform party, was the only woman to be a speaker of parliament before being hand-picked by Donald Tusk to take over as prime minister after his appointment as president of the European Council. The former paediatrician and GP took over the reins in September 2014, becoming the second woman to hold the post of prime minister in the country. Before taking on the role, the daughter of a tailor and a mechanic served as Minister of Health for four years until 2011.

Angela Merkel, Germany Angela Merkel

The former quantum chemist and austerity enthusiast Angela Merkel became Germany's first female chancellor in 2005. Mrs Merkel was judged by Forbes to be the world's most powerful woman in 2014. Her nickname - "Mutti", or "mummy" - was supposedly conceived by opponents in her party, the CDU, to patronise her. But it was turned into a campaigning tool by her own people. Mrs Merkel's prescription of budget cuts and fiscal austerity has led to some hostility in struggling EU states such as Greece and Spain.

Park Geun-hye, South Korea Park Geun-hye

Sworn in in 2013, Park Geun-hye - the first female head of state in Northeast Asia's modern history - now leads the country with the highest level of gender equality in the developed world. She has promised to redistribute wealth, reform big conglomerates and engage with North Korea. No stranger to the corridors of power, Park Geun-hye became first lady of South Korea at just 22. She took over her mother's duties after she was assassinated in 1974, killed by a bullet intended for her husband, Park Chung-hee, then-president of the country.

Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Trinidad and Tobago Kamla Persad-Bissessar

Kamla Persad-Bissessar became Trinidad and Tobago's first female prime minister after a landslide victory. She leads the tri-party People's Partnership coalition, which defeated the incumbent People's National movement after four decades of almost uninterrupted rule.

In 2011, the former attorney general denounced an alleged assassination plot, aimed at herself and members of her cabinet, as "evil". She attributed it to the state of emergency she had declared to combat a rise in violent crime due to drugs gangs.

Dilma Rousseff, Brazil Dilma Rousseff

The third of the list to earn the "Iron Lady" moniker, Dilma Rousseff certainly has tough credentials: quite apart from infamous public dressings-down of her ministers, she held her ground when subjected to torture during her three-year imprisonment in 1970, after she joined the left-wing underground movement against Brazil's military dictatorship.

Her career has not been without its difficulties: Ms Rousseff has been criticised for her country's slide into recession, and the opposition has tried to link her to corruption.

Catherine Samba-Panza, Central African Republic Catherina Samba-Panza

Catherine Samba-Panza was appointed mayor of Bangui in 2013 and elected interim president of the Central African Republic soon after, making her the first woman to hold the post. The successful Christian businesswoman and corporate lawyer is regarded as politically neutral. She was accepted by both Seleka rebels - who overthrew the Central African Republic government in 2013 - and their opponents, and urged an end to bloodshed in her victory speech.

Portia Simpson-Miller, Jamaica Portia Simpson-Miller

The leader of the People's National Party - who grew up in a Kingston ghetto - won the December 2011 election with a comfortable margin. It was not the first time she had occupied the top spot - she became Jamaica's first female prime minister in 2006, but was defeated in 2007 after 17 years of PNP rule. In her 2012 inaugural address - made in the same year the Caribbean country celebrated 50 years of independence from Britain - Mrs Simpson-Miller said it was time for Jamaica to break with the British monarchy and have its own president.

Erna Solberg, Norway Erna Solberg

Conservative Party leader Erna Solberg became Norway's second female Prime Minister in 2013, heading a right-wing minority coalition government - a phenomenon more common in Nordic countries. Half her cabinet posts are filled by women. Her government had promised to lower taxes, reduce the country's dependence on its oil sector, invest in infrastructure and curb immigration.

Her tough stance as local government minister for asylum and regional development earned her the nickname "Iron Erna".

Laimdota Straujuma, Latvia Laimdota Straujuma

Laimdota Straujuma's centre-right coalition was elected in 2014, amid fears of Russian intervention in Ukraine. Ms Straujuma, an economist by training, became Latvia's first female prime minister after the resignation of Valdis Dombrovskis, who stepped down after a supermarket roof collapsed and killed dozens in Riga. She promised to continue his austerity-orientated economic policies, which were an effort to rescue the state from bankruptcy and prepare it to join the euro in 2014.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon is taking the reins as First Minister of Scotland. An SNP member since 16, she rose through the party ranks before submitting a leadership bid in 2004. But Ms Sturgeon withdrew her candidacy in favour of joining forces with Alex Salmond. She has pledged to be Scotland's "most accessible first minister ever". Ms Sturgeon will be leading the party through the 2016 Scottish election, as well as fighting for more powers for Scotland following the referendum in which voters said "No" to independence.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Denmark Helle Thorning-Schmidt

Helle Thorning-Schmidt caused heads to swivel all over the internet last year when she posed for a now-famous "selfie" with David Cameron and Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela's memorial. But her political career was flying high long before that snapshot. She became leader of Denmark's Social Democrat party in 2005, and the country's first female prime minister in 2011. During the campaign, her stylish appearance earned her the nickname "Gucci Helle". Members of her own traditional workers' party have levelled similar criticism at Mrs Thorning.

Tatiana Turanskaya, Trans-Dniester Tatiana Turanskaya

The self-proclaimed separatist region of Trans-Dniester is not recognised by the international community. In 1990, it proclaimed independence from Moldova, with which tensions remain high. It occupies a strip of land between the Dniester river and Ukraine, and is still considered one of the "frozen conflicts" of the post-Soviet space. Tatiana Turanskaya replaced Pyotr Stepanov as Prime Minister after he resigned last year. She leads alongside President Yevgeny Shevchuk, who wants to improve relations with Moldova and Ukraine.

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