International Women's Day: Celebrating Some Powerful Political Women

March 8, 2016 | Bill V.

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On March 8th, International Women's Day, why not read a biography or better yet, an autobiography, of one of the following influential groundbreaking political women?

Our neighbours to the south are in the midst of a presidential election campaign which may well see Hillary Clinton become the first female president of the United States.  Kathleen Wynne, Ontario's first female and lesbian premier, just gave a sold out talk at the Toronto Reference Library (watch our website for the upcoming video).  Two important Canadian provinces currently have female premiers, Christy Clark in British Columbia and Rachel Notley in Alberta, and Pauline Marois was the premier of Quebec.  

My personal idiosyncratic choice reflects how deeply moved I am reading the autobiography of Angela Davis -- black woman, civil rights advocate, communist, academic, prison abolitionist and reluctant Black Panther. Davis' book has gotten me thinking about other powerful female political leaders. 

Angela Davis-- an autobiography



Indira Gandhi was India's first female Prime Minister 1966-1977 and 1980-1984. She was assassinated in 1984.

Indira The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi




Golda Meir was Israel's first, and only, female president from 1969 to 1974.  We have her autobiography Mayn lebn, in Yiddish as well as English.

My Life by Golda Meir




Margaret Thatcher, was the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1975 to 1990 and commonly known as the Iron Lady.

The Downing Street Years by Margaret Thatcher




Corazon (Cory) Aquino was the widow of Benito Aquino and the first female Prime Minister of the Philippines from 1986 to 1992.  We also have a book of anecdotes about her in Tagalog: Cory: sa aking pagkakilala.

Corazon Aquino  the story of a revolution 

Benazir Bhutto was the first female President of Pakistan from 1988-1990 and 1993-1996. She was the first woman to become head of government of a Muslim nation. She was assassinated in 2007.

 Daughter of the East An Autobiography by Benazir Bhutto    Reconciliation Islam, democracy, and the West by Benazir Bhutto    



Aung San Suu Kyi is a Burmese pro-democracy political leader who was under house arrest for more than 15 years.  She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.

        The Voice of Hope - Aung San Suu Kyi conversations with Alan Clements  Letters from Burma Aung San Suu Kyi



Lastly, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, known as the Iron Lady of Africa (see Margaret Thatcher above for the original Iron Lady) is the first female President of Liberia, since 2006 the first elected female head of state in Africa. Sirleaf was jointly awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize with Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Tawakkol Karman of Yemen. 

This child will be great memoir of a remarkable life by Africa's first woman president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf




1914 German poster celebrating International Women's Day