Women in Politics: Five Leaders Who Made History in 2016

2016 has been a great year for women in politics. 

Across the globe, female leaders have been taking massive strides and breaking barriers to what was once exclusively a man’s world. 

Today, we’d like to introduce you to five such trailblazing ladies:

1. Kersti Kaljulaid, Estonia’s first female President

 Photo Credit: Peter Langovits, AP

Just this month, 46-year old Kersti Jaljulaid was sworn in as the small Baltic state’s first female President after securing an impressive 81 out of 101 votes from Estonian parliament members. 

The youngest person ever to hold the position, Jaljulaid is no stranger to making history. From 2002 to 2004, she was the director of the Iru Power Plant, making her the first woman to lead a power plant in Estonia.

Fun fact: Jaljulaid is a trained accountant, auditor, manager and also a biologist. She specialized in ornithology (the study of birds) and holds a degree in biology from the University of Tartu. 

2. Yuriko Koike, Tokyo’s first female governor

Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen

Meet Yuriko Koike, a Japanese stateswoman and the current governor of Tokyo. Koike is an accomplished politician, having previously served as the national Minister of Defense in 2007 and a member of Japan’s House of Representatives.

Koike has spoken out candidly about the obstacles she’s had to face in her years working in government services as a woman. Japan doesn’t just have a glass ceiling when it comes to female participation in politics, Koike once said, “It’s an iron plate.” 

A strong advocate for environmental issues, working women and even Japanese pop culture, Koike hopes that her tenure will ensure “both women and men can shine in Tokyo.” 

Fun fact: Koike speaks fluent Arabic, as a result of her studies in Egypt at Cairo University. 

3. Melanie Mark, the first woman from a First Nation elected to British Columbia legislature

Photo Credit: Charlie Smith

Melanie Mark is a true inspiration to Aboriginal youth across the country. Recently elected as the New Democratic Party’s MLA for the riding of Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, she’s had a tough climb to the top. 

Mark grew up in one of Vancouver’s poorest neighborhoods in a turbulent household and faced physical and sexual abuse as a child, but came out of it with what she calls “warrior strength.”

Mark went on to work for various child service organizations across Canada before entering politics and becoming the first woman from a First Nation to serve in British Columbia legislature. 

Fun fact: Mark holds a degree in criminology from Douglas College, British Columbia and a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and Sociology from Simon Fraser University. 

4. Hindatu Umar, the first female head of local authority in Argungu, Nigeria

Photo Source: http://www.cosmopolitan.com/ng/cosmo-now/a3860155/hindatu-umar-is-nigeri...

Hindatu Umar is not your average twenty-something. She made history at the tender age of twenty-five as the first woman to become the head of the local government council in Arugungu, northern Nigeria. 

Umar previously served as the deputy chairperson before being promoted to the position of Local Government Chairperson herself in September of this year. 

Fun fact: The 25-year old is the youngest woman to occupy a major governance position in the small city of 47,000 people.

5. Misty Snow, the first transgender nominee for a major party to run for a U.S. Senate seat

Photo Source: mistyksnow.com

Misty Snow is setting a new precedent of inclusivity in American politics by becoming one of the first openly transgender people to represent a major political party, and the first openly transgender person to become a United States Senate nominee. Snow’s campaign involves pushing for women’s rights, LGBT equality, paid maternity leave, and an increased minimum wage. 


We hope you are as inspired by these incredible women as we are. Their journeys are wonderful reminders that nothing should stop you from achieving the level of success you deserve. 



1. Photo of Kersti Kaljulaid: http://nuusi.tk/01699031. Photo Credit: Peter Langovits

2. Photo of Yuriko Koike: https://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plik:Yuriko_Koike,_Aug._17,_2007.jpg. Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen

3. Photo of Melanie Mark: http://www.straight.com/news/471096/bc-ndp-members-nominate-melanie-mark..., Photo Credit: Charlie Smith

4. Photo of Hindatu Umar: http://www.cosmopolitan.com/ng/cosmo-now/a3860155/hindatu-umar-is-nigeri...

5. Photo of Misty Snow: http://www.mistyksnow.com/