Politicians around the world may have hit rock-bottom in popularity, but that dreary news has not stopped women from continuing to squeeze their way into yet another formerly boys-only club. Conservative or liberal, quiet or bombastic, these women have brains, beauty, and ambition. Note: These are not in any particular order.
20. USA: Michele Bachmann–Representing Minnesota’s sixth congressional district in the United States Congress, Ms. Bachmann has demonstrated time and again her racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic tendencies. A favorite quote from Ms. Bachmann: “… the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States. … I think it is high time that we recognize the contribution of our forbearers who worked tirelessly — men like John Quincy Adams, who would not rest until slavery was extinguished in the country.”
19. Argentina: Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner–As the first directly elected female president of Argentina, this gorgeous piece of political femininity oversees an economy with the highest rates of inflation in the world, due in large part to her country’s default on $100 billion in foreign debt in 2002. Thanks to Fernandez de Kirchner’s efforts, Argentina allows same-sex marriage. As well, she announced earlier this year that she will be godmother to the child of a lesbian couple.
18. USA: Michelle Ugenti–The piercing blue eyes of Ms. Ugenti could stop a freight train, and this union-busting, rugby-playing Arizona State Representative also considers herself a true patriot.
17. Pakistan: Ayla Malik–The granddaughter of a former governor of West Pakistan and a niece to a former Pakistan president, politics is in Ms. Malik’s blood. She was injured in May 2013 when her vehicle convoy was fired upon by unknown persons. In July 2013, a high court in Lahore confirmed that she submitted a fake educational degree to Pakistan’s Election Commission.
16. Russia: Alina Kabaeva–An Honored Master of Sport, this former rhythmic gymnast has been rumored to be secretly engaged to Russian President Vladimir Putin. She is deep in Italian politics and has been a deputy of the State Duma since 2007.
15. Italy: Michela Vittoria-Brambilla–A steel manufacturing heiress, Ms. Vittoria-Brambilla is Italy’s former Minister of Culture and Tourism under Prime Minister and convicted tax evader Silvio Berlusconi.
14. Italy: Mara Cargana–After earning her law degree, Cargana worked as a model and on several Italian television shows. She was elected in 2006 to the Chamber of Deputies of a political party, and from 2008 to 2011, served as Minister for Equal Opportunity in the Cabinet of Silvio Berlusconi.
13. Greece: Eva Kaili–After working as a newscaster for Greece’s MEGA Channel, Ms. Kaili became Director of the Centre of Equality and Equal Opportunities.
12. USA: Paula Pennypacker–Currently running as a Scottsdale representative for the Arizona State Senate, Ms. Pennypacker is her own model, the symbol of her line of redheads-only beauty products. Beauty, indeed.
11. USA: Sarah Palin–Sarah, Sarah, Sarah. Little can be said that has not already.
10. Switzerland: Christa Mark Walder–A member of the Free Democratic Party, Mark Walder began in politics in 1999, being elected to the Grand Council in Bern. She has been active since 2006 in trying to get Switzerland to join the European Union. Christa Mark Walder holds a degree in law and a certificate in ecology.
9. Canada: Ruby Dhalla–Born in Winnipeg to Sikh parents from northern India, MP Dr. Ruby Dhalla is perhaps the most recognized person of East Indian descent in Canada. She entered the House of Commons in 2004 advocated for immigrant rights and fundraised for natural disaster victims in Asia. Championing equality, human rights, the rights of women, and gender equality,” she says, “are not about whether someone is conservative or liberal – but rather about standing up for humanity.”
8. Poland: Joanna Mucha–This mother of two first dipped a toe in politics in 2003, and ultimately, took a seat in Poland’s parliament in 2007, and has served as Secretary of the Group for the Convention on Bioethics and as the Minister of Sport and Tourism.
7. USA: Kamala Harris–The California Attorney General has been vocal against the recent U.S. Supreme Court split decision that says family corporations do not have to pay for contraceptive insurance coverage for employees. “A corporation can have private beliefs” but you can’t have it both ways, she says. She argues that the new case law introduces a slippery slope, saying that a corporation and its owner can (for personal religious beliefs, or whatever) make decisions about employees based on sexual orientation or race. Since eighty to ninety percent of companies are closely held, she points out that this is a big deal. “This ruling will have an impact on a large number of women in the workplace. And let’s be clear: It’s an issue about choice and a woman’s ability to make decisions about her own body and not have those decisions be made by her boss, by her employer. But it’s also about women’s access to economic opportunity and equality. Women pay 68 percent in out-of-pocket expenses for their healthcare. This is going to add to that burden.”
6. Germany: Julia Bonk–This Left Party politician, born in East Germany, became the youngest member of the German Parliament when she was elected at age 18.
5: Peru: Luciana Leon–The daughter of a prominent politician, Ms. Leon was involved in her country’s “Petrograte” oil scandal in 2008. She has a law degree and a Master of Governance and Public Policy. An internet poll in 2009 named her the world’s most beautiful female politician.
4. Israel: Orly Levy–The daughter of a former Foreign Affairs minister, served in Israel’s air force and later earned a law degree. A current member of the Knesset, Ms. Levy is the chair of the that body’s committee for children’s rights and a mother of four.
3. USA: Gretchen Whitmer–The Democratic Leader of the Michigan State Senate used to be a corporate litigator, dabbling in the intricacies of administrative law. She earned her law degree magna cum laude from Michigan State University.
2. The Netherlands: Sabine Uitslag–A member of the Netherlands House of Representative of 2008 – 2012, Uitslag focused on youth policy, social care, and addiction. She will compete in the new season of The Voice of Holland.
1. Ukraine: Yulia Tymoshenko–Named the third most powerful woman in the world by Forbes and the leader of Ukraine’s Orange revolution (a series of protests after 2004’s massively corrupt presidential election), Tymoshenko was later put behind bars when the government said had misuse of power when she served as Prime Minister. She spoke of being beaten by prison guards and photos of her were distributed across the internet.
Like them or leave them, there are some pretty impressive people in this list. Who, oh yes, just happen to be women.
Opinion By Gregory Baskin