Breaking stereotypes: The most notable female Muslim leaders of all time

Published March 8th, 2017 - 14:33 GMT

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International Women's Day is a global day promoting the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world.

More often than not, the discourse on Muslim women is dominated by negative notions of oppression and marginalization. However, this is not an accurate representation of the truth. In celebration of this year's International Women's Day we want to introduce you to nine Muslim women from around the world who hold, or have previously held, positions of great power - how many have you heard of before?  Continue reading below »

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Tansu Çiller was the 30th Prime Minister of Turkey. Born in Istanbul in 1946, Çiller graduated from the School of Economics at Robert College in Turkey and received her PhD from the University of Connecticut.
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Image 1 of 9:  1 / 9Tansu Çiller was the 30th Prime Minister of Turkey. Born in Istanbul in 1946, Çiller graduated from the School of Economics at Robert College in Turkey and received her PhD from the University of Connecticut.

(Source: Twitter)

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Lateefa Al Gaood was the first female elected to the Council of Representatives of Bahrain in 2006. She was also the first woman in the Gulf to win in a legislative general election.
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Image 2 of 9:  2 / 9Lateefa Al Gaood was the first female elected to the Council of Representatives of Bahrain in 2006. She was also the first woman in the Gulf to win in a legislative general election.

(Source: YouTube)

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Queen Rania of Jordan is very well known for her countless charitable endeavours, and deserves particular praise for her relentless efforts in promoting girls education in Jordan.
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Image 3 of 9:  3 / 9Queen Rania of Jordan is very well known for her countless charitable endeavours, and deserves particular praise for her relentless efforts in promoting girls education in Jordan.

(Source: AFP)

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Benazir Bhutto became the first woman to be elected as the head of a Muslim state. She successfully led the Peoples Party in Pakistan to victory on two separate occasions in 1988 and 1993. Tragically, she was later assassinated in 2007 whilst leaving a campaign rally.
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Image 4 of 9:  4 / 9Benazir Bhutto became the first woman to be elected as the head of a Muslim state. She successfully led the Peoples Party in Pakistan to victory on two separate occasions in 1988 and 1993. Tragically, she was later assassinated in 2007 whilst leaving a campaign rally.

(Source: AFP)

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Khaleda Zia served as Prime Minister of Bangladesh from 1991 – 1996 and then again from 2001 – 2006. She was the second woman in the Muslim world to become a head of state (after Benazir Bhutto). Her more than decade-long tenure makes her the longest-serving Prime Minister of Bangladesh.
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Image 5 of 9:  5 / 9Khaleda Zia served as Prime Minister of Bangladesh from 1991 – 1996 and then again from 2001 – 2006. She was the second woman in the Muslim world to become a head of state (after Benazir Bhutto). Her more than decade-long tenure makes her the longest-serving Prime Minister of Bangladesh.

(Source: AFP)

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Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi is a member of the Sharjah ruling family in the UAE. She was the first woman in the nation to hold a ministerial post. Sheikha Lubna served as Minister of Economy, Minister of Foreign Trade, Minister of International Cooperation and Development as well as currently holding the position of Minister of State for Tolerance.
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Image 6 of 9:  6 / 9Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi is a member of the Sharjah ruling family in the UAE. She was the first woman in the nation to hold a ministerial post. Sheikha Lubna served as Minister of Economy, Minister of Foreign Trade, Minister of International Cooperation and Development as well as currently holding the position of Minister of State for Tolerance.

(Source: AFP)

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Megawati Sukarnoputri served as President of Indonesia from 2001-2004. She is currently leader of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, one of the largest political parties in Indonesia.
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Image 7 of 9:  7 / 9Megawati Sukarnoputri served as President of Indonesia from 2001-2004. She is currently leader of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, one of the largest political parties in Indonesia.

(Source: Twitter)

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Born in 1940, Mame Madior Boye is well known for her strong feminist ideals. Throughout her time serving as Prime Minister of Senegal she frequently raised concerns about women’s issues.
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Image 8 of 9:  8 / 9Born in 1940, Mame Madior Boye is well known for her strong feminist ideals. Throughout her time serving as Prime Minister of Senegal she frequently raised concerns about women’s issues.

(Source: AFP)

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Roza Otunbayeva was sworn in as President of Kyrgystan in 2010. Her other political and diplomatic posts include first ambassador from the Krygyz Republic to the United States and Canada, and the first ambassador to the United Kingdom.
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Image 9 of 9:  9 / 9Roza Otunbayeva was sworn in as President of Kyrgystan in 2010. Her other political and diplomatic posts include first ambassador from the Krygyz Republic to the United States and Canada, and the first ambassador to the United Kingdom.

(Source: AFP)

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1

Tansu Çiller was the 30th Prime Minister of Turkey. Born in Istanbul in 1946, Çiller graduated from the School of Economics at Robert College in Turkey and received her PhD from the University of Connecticut.

Image 1 of 9Tansu Çiller was the 30th Prime Minister of Turkey. Born in Istanbul in 1946, Çiller graduated from the School of Economics at Robert College in Turkey and received her PhD from the University of Connecticut.

(Source: Twitter)

2

Lateefa Al Gaood was the first female elected to the Council of Representatives of Bahrain in 2006. She was also the first woman in the Gulf to win in a legislative general election.

Image 2 of 9Lateefa Al Gaood was the first female elected to the Council of Representatives of Bahrain in 2006. She was also the first woman in the Gulf to win in a legislative general election.

(Source: YouTube)

3

Queen Rania of Jordan is very well known for her countless charitable endeavours, and deserves particular praise for her relentless efforts in promoting girls education in Jordan.

Image 3 of 9Queen Rania of Jordan is very well known for her countless charitable endeavours, and deserves particular praise for her relentless efforts in promoting girls education in Jordan.

(Source: AFP)

4

Benazir Bhutto became the first woman to be elected as the head of a Muslim state. She successfully led the Peoples Party in Pakistan to victory on two separate occasions in 1988 and 1993. Tragically, she was later assassinated in 2007 whilst leaving a campaign rally.

Image 4 of 9Benazir Bhutto became the first woman to be elected as the head of a Muslim state. She successfully led the Peoples Party in Pakistan to victory on two separate occasions in 1988 and 1993. Tragically, she was later assassinated in 2007 whilst leaving a campaign rally.

(Source: AFP)

5

Khaleda Zia served as Prime Minister of Bangladesh from 1991 – 1996 and then again from 2001 – 2006. She was the second woman in the Muslim world to become a head of state (after Benazir Bhutto). Her more than decade-long tenure makes her the longest-serving Prime Minister of Bangladesh.

Image 5 of 9Khaleda Zia served as Prime Minister of Bangladesh from 1991 – 1996 and then again from 2001 – 2006. She was the second woman in the Muslim world to become a head of state (after Benazir Bhutto). Her more than decade-long tenure makes her the longest-serving Prime Minister of Bangladesh.

(Source: AFP)

6

Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi is a member of the Sharjah ruling family in the UAE. She was the first woman in the nation to hold a ministerial post. Sheikha Lubna served as Minister of Economy, Minister of Foreign Trade, Minister of International Cooperation and Development as well as currently holding the position of Minister of State for Tolerance.

Image 6 of 9Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi is a member of the Sharjah ruling family in the UAE. She was the first woman in the nation to hold a ministerial post. Sheikha Lubna served as Minister of Economy, Minister of Foreign Trade, Minister of International Cooperation and Development as well as currently holding the position of Minister of State for Tolerance.

(Source: AFP)

7

Megawati Sukarnoputri served as President of Indonesia from 2001-2004. She is currently leader of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, one of the largest political parties in Indonesia.

Image 7 of 9Megawati Sukarnoputri served as President of Indonesia from 2001-2004. She is currently leader of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, one of the largest political parties in Indonesia.

(Source: Twitter)

8

Born in 1940, Mame Madior Boye is well known for her strong feminist ideals. Throughout her time serving as Prime Minister of Senegal she frequently raised concerns about women’s issues.

Image 8 of 9Born in 1940, Mame Madior Boye is well known for her strong feminist ideals. Throughout her time serving as Prime Minister of Senegal she frequently raised concerns about women’s issues.

(Source: AFP)

9

Roza Otunbayeva was sworn in as President of Kyrgystan in 2010. Her other political and diplomatic posts include first ambassador from the Krygyz Republic to the United States and Canada, and the first ambassador to the United Kingdom.

Image 9 of 9Roza Otunbayeva was sworn in as President of Kyrgystan in 2010. Her other political and diplomatic posts include first ambassador from the Krygyz Republic to the United States and Canada, and the first ambassador to the United Kingdom.

(Source: AFP)

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