Women in power across Europe

Newly-appointed French PM Elisabeth Borne attends a handover ceremony in Paris, on May 16, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (AFP) - Elisabeth Borne, a 61-year-old engineer, was named French prime minister on Monday (May 16), becoming only the second woman to hold the position after Edith Cresson, a Socialist, who lasted less than a year in the job in the early 1990s.

Borne is one of nearly a dozen female political leaders in Europe, where Ursula von der Leyen became the first president of the European Commission in December 2019.

We look at the situation across the continent:


Danish PM Mette Frederiksen give a speech during an event at City Hall Square in Copenhagen, on May 4, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

Social Democrat leader Mette Frederiksen became her country's youngest-ever prime minister in June 2019 when she was elected premier at the age of 41.

Denmark's first woman prime minister was Helle Thorning-Schmidt, also from the Social Democrats, who served from 2011 to 2015.


President of the Republic of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid. PHOTO: ESTONIAN PRESIDENT'S OFFICE

Former EU auditor Kersti Kaljulaid, 52, became the first female president of the Baltic state of Estonia in October 2016. The position is a largely ceremonial one.

Kaja Kallas in January 2021 became Estonia's first woman prime minister. Her father Siim Kallas was prime minister from 2002 to 2004.


Finland's PM Sanna Marin attends a news conference on Finland's security policy decisions on May 15, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

In December 2019, Sanna Marin, a Social Democrat, became the youngest sitting prime minister in the world at the age of 34.

She is Finland's third female prime minister.


Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou meets with her Vietnamese counterpart in Hanoi, on May 16, 2022. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Katerina Sakellaropoulou, a trailblazing lawyer, was elected Greece's first female president in January 2020.

While the presidency is a mainly ceremonial role in Greece, Sakellaropoulou had already broken new ground in the judiciary by become president of the country's top court in 2018.


Hungary's new President Katalin Novak speaks during her inauguration ceremony in Budapest, on May 14, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

Katalin Novak, a close ally of Prime Minister Viktor Orban and former minister for family policy, was elected Hungary's first ever woman president in March 2022.

The presidency is a largely ceremonial role.


Lithuania PM Ingrida Simonyte (right) on the first day of a diplomatic mission of the Flemish government on May 16, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

Lithuanian former finance minister Ingrida Simonyte, a 47-year-old rock and ice hockey fan, was appointed prime minister of a centre-right government in December 2020.

Lithuania has a strong tradition of female leadership, with "Baltic Iron Lady" Dalia Grybauskaite spending a decade in power from 2009 to 2019.


Slovak President Zuzana Caputova (right) and US First Lady Jill Biden pose for a picture on May 9, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

Liberal lawyer and anti-graft campaigner Zuzana Caputova, 48, took office in June 2019 as Slovakia's first woman president.

A political novice, she had comfortably beaten the ruling party's candidate in elections. In Slovakia, the president has less power than the prime minister but can veto laws and appointments of senior judges.


Sweden's PM Magdalena Andersson at a news conference in Stockholm, Sweden, on May 16, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

Despite being a country that champions gender equality, Sweden never had a woman as prime minister before Magdalena Andersson, a Social Democrat, who won the top job in November 2021.

An economist who had served as finance minister for seven years, Andersson had a rocky start. Hours after becoming premier she resigned after her budget was rejected by parliament and the Greens quit her coalition. Four days later she was re-elected.

Wider Europe

Elsewhere in Europe, but outside the EU, other women currently in power are: Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili, Iceland's Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir, Kosovo's president Vjosa Osmani, Moldova's president and prime minister Maia Sandu and Natalia Gavrilita, Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

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