Category: women in politics

Constance Markievicz (1868-1927) was an Irish politician who, in 1918,
became the first woman elected to the Westminster Parliament as a
representative of Dublin, though she did not take her seat.

She was a proponent of Irish
independence and a campaigner for female suffrage. As Minister of Labour in Ireland,
she was the first female minister in Europe and one of the first in the world.

Martha Wright Griffiths (1912-2003) was the first woman elected to US Congress
in Michigan, and the first woman elected as Lieutenant Governor of Michigan.
She was instrumental in including the prohibition of sex discrimination in the
Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Before
becoming a Representative, she served as a lawyer and a judge in Detroit. She
is known as ‘the mother of the Equal Rights Amendment’ for her sponsorship and
advocacy of it.

Linda Sánchez (b. 1969) is currently a US representative for California. As the Chair
of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Vice Chair of the House Democratic
Caucus, she is the first woman of colour ever to be in a leadership position in
the US Congress.

She
studied Law at UCLA and became a Representative in 2003. She also serves on the
Committee on Ethics and the Committee on Ways and Means.

Annette Strauss (1924-1998) was the mayor of Dallas, Texas
between 1987 and 1991. She was the second female mayor of the city, and the
first to be elected to the post in her own right.

Before becoming an
elected official, she was a social worker and fundraiser who helped raise
millions of dollars for the arts in Dallas, as well as a founding member of the
Volunteer Center of North Texas. During her time in office, she founded Family
Gateway, a centre providing shelter, food, education and employment resources
for the homeless population of the city.

Winnie Byanyima (b. 1959) is an aeronautical engineer and
politician from Uganda. She was the executive director of Oxfam International
from 2013 to 2019.

She graduated from the
University of Manchester with a degree in aeronautical engineering, becoming
the first Ugandan woman to do so. She worked for Ugandan Airlines and later
became a Member of Parliament. In 2006 she became the director of the Gender
Team in the Bureau for Development Policy at the United Nations Development
Programme.

Lorraine Morton (1918-2018) served as the mayor of Evanston, a
town in Illinois, for sixteen years, from 1993 to 2009. She was the first
African American mayor of the town and drove the efforts to desegregate its
public schools.

Before starting her
career in politics, she was an educator, and eventually became the principal of
Evanston’s Haven Middle School, a position held for twelve years. Today, the
town’s civic centre bears her name.

Vaira
Vīķe-Freiberga
 (b. 1937)
was elected the first female President of Latvia in 1999. She served two terms
and had high approval ratings throughout her time in office; a known
pro-European, she was instrumental in achieving EU membership for her country.

In addition to her political career, she is a professor and scholar in
psychology and psycholinguistics, teaching at the University of Montreal and publishing
more than ten books and 160 academic articles. She is the current president of
the Club of Madrid.

The Mirabal sisters (Patria, Minerva, María Teresa
and Dedé) were four sisters from the Dominican Republic, known for their
subversive activities against the regime of dictator Rafael Trujillo. Three of
them were assassinated on 25 November 1960 by forces loyal to the regime.

From a middle-class family of farmers, the sisters started
opposing the dictatorship when they formed the Movement of the Fourteenth of
June and distributed pamphlets talking about Trujillo’s crimes. They were
imprisoned, and later released because of international pressure. Today, the
International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is celebrated
on the day of their deaths.

Abigail
Adams
(1744-1818)
was the second First Lady of the United States during the presidency of her husband,
John Adams. She is considered one of the founders of the country, and her
letters represent a valuable testimony of the American Revolutionary War.

She was active as First Lady and vocal in her
support of women’s rights, as well as her abolitionist views. The 1200 letters
she exchanged with John Adams are seen by historians as a ‘treasure trove’ for
that period in American history.

Susan
Rice
(b. 1964) was
the US National Security Advisor from 2013 to 2017. She also served as the
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs during the Clinton
administration.

She studied
at Stanford and Oxford, and later served as the United States Ambassador to the
United Nations, the first African American woman to hold this position.