Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Long before Bhutto came on the scene there was Shagrat al-Durr, who became the Sultan of Egypt in 1250 AD and I'm sure that more knowledgable people could cite other early female leaders of predominantly Muslim countries. A'isha, the wife of the Prophet Mohammed, was an amazing leader of Muslim people although she never had formal authority like Shagrat al-Durr or Benazir Bhutto. To learn more about A'isha, I recommend The Veil and the Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation of Women's Rights in Islam by Fatima Mernissi.
Bhutto was, of course, the first elected female national executive of a modern Muslim-majority nation-state. And it is interesting to me that, arguably, Muslim countries have a rather better track record in this regard than Christian-majority countries. See the table below. This is my original research and I welcome corrections.
|Elected Female National Executives in the Five Most Populous Christian and Muslim Majority Nation-States|
|Nation-State||Population||Name of Female Executive||Year Elected|
|Pakistan*||164,741,924||Benazir Bhutto||1988, 1993|
Sheikh Hasina Wazed
|The Philippines+||91,077,287||Corazon Aquino|
1. The plus sumbol (+) indicates that the country has a Christian majority population while the asterisk (*) indicates a Muslim-majority.
2. All population figures are from the CIA's World Factbook.
Curious why there's no mention of religion of the first three female heads of government--all in the Sixties--Sirimavo Bandaranaike (Buddhist), Indira Gandhi (Hindu), or Golda Meir (Jewish) in their descriptions, or whether any other co-religionist woman followed in their footstep.
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