Given the rise of hate crimes and misunderstandings that the general public has towards Muslims, it is important to take a moment to reflect on the mammoth diversity contained within the term “Muslim.” While the fascination towards Muslim women has taken on a life of its own in recent years, portrayals of us have ranged from “oppressed lady” to “even more oppressed lady.”
The truth is, there are some Muslim women, just like any religion, who may fit into these stereotypes. But what may come as a surprise is that every once in a while, Muslim females take a break from being “oppressed and/or more oppressed” to rule a country or two?
One of the most recent Muslims to join this roster is Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, who became the president of Mauritius this month.
In honor of her recent election, here’s a list of 10 badass female Muslim leaders you should know.
1. Benazir Bhutto
Bhutto was the 11th Prime Minister of Pakistan. She was the first and only female Head of State in Pakistan thus far, serving two non-consecutive terms in 1988–90 and then in 1993–96.
2. Megawati Sukarnoputri
Sukarnoputri was the president of Indonesia from 2001 to 2004.
3. Sheikh Hasina
Sheikh Hasina is the current Prime Minister of Bangladesh. She has been in office since January 2009. She also served as Prime Minister from 1996 to 2001.
4. Khaleda Zia
She was the Prime Minister of Bangladesh from 1991 to 1996 and again from 2001 to 2006. She was the first woman in Bangladesh’s history and second in the Muslim world (after Benazir Bhutto) to head a democratic government.
5. Atifete Jahjaga
Not only is she the current President of Kosovo, she is also the first female President, the first female head of state in the modern Balkans and the youngest to be elected to the office.
6. Tansu Çiller
Turkey’s first and only female prime minister to date, this academician and economist served as the Prime Minister of Turkey from 1993 to 1996.
7. Mame Madior Boye
She was the Prime Minister of Senegal from 2001 to 2002.
8. Aminata Touré
Following Boye, Aminata Touré was yet another female to occupy the Prime Minister’s seat of Senegal from 2013 to 2014.
9. Cissé Mariam Kaïdama Sidibé
A professor turned politician, Sidibé was the Prime Minister of Mali from 2011 to 2012, the first woman to be appointed to the position in the country’s history.
10. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim
The recently appointed president of Mauritius. She is the Head of State and Commander in Chief as well.