The World’s First Democratically Elected Female Head of Government

March 5, 2012

I’d like to think I have a decent grasp at history. My dad is a huge history buff and is quite the library in his home office. I love listening to him telling me a neat detail or fact he picked up in some history book.

But last week when I asked I pondered to myself “Who was the first democratically elected female head of state?” I drew a blank, so naturally I asked my dad. He didn’t know, but he was more surprised I asked him a history question instead of using “the Google” (as he likes to call it.) He was right, every time I come home for a dinner, we also seem to ask ourselves random question: Where was the first subway system? (Britain) When and where did people first start using toothpaste? (obviously not Britain – source Austin Powers) While it is fun to try and figure out all of life’s mysteries on our own, it amazes me that we still need to have a 20 minute conversation on the first subway system, because it always ends with me going on the Internet for the answer. Seriously…. there is no need for arguing or asking questions in this day and age. Just Google everything. If you have smartphone, you don’t even have to leave the dinner table! It’s amazing.

I digress. In any case, in the time it took me to dial my parent’s house I was able to launch a web browser and search for the answer…

Sirimavo Bandaranaike

Born in 1916, Sirimavo Bandaranaike was elected Prime Minister of Sri Lanka in 1960. Bandaranaike became the world’s first woman head of government, after her husband was assassinated in 1959. She took over her husband’s position of leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, and led them to win the country’s government  elections in 1960. She served as PM three times, 1960-65, 1970-77, and 1994-2000. What an amazing accomplishment!

I can already play out the next conversation with my dad:

Me: “Hey I found the answer the world’s first democratically elected female head of state!”

Dad: “Oh, who was it?”

Me: “Sirimavo Bandaranaike.”

Dad: “I knew that.”


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