The Council of Women World Leaders Announces New Members.

Washington, D.C.

December 7, 2016


Megan Rabbitt

The Council of Women World Leaders is pleased to announce that Her Excellencies, Joyce Banda, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, Paula Cox, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, Kersti Kaljulaid, Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, Theresa May, Pratihba Patil, Simonetta Sommaruga and Erna Solberg have accepted their invitations to join the Council.

According to the Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders, President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė, the expanding network of women leaders can be an important catalyst for global action – necessary to achieve women’s leadership, gender equality and other sustainable development goals.

The Council continues to extend its reach and include engaging new female leaders to advocate and support positive development for women around the world.

At the moment, the total membership of women heads of state and government in CWWL is 63.

Joyce Banda is the first female President of Malawi. Before becoming president, she served as the country’s first female vice-president. She was also a Member of Parliament, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister for Gender, Children’s Affairs and Community Services. Banda is a women’s rights activist and has founded numerous organizations focused on promoting women in business, such as the National Association of Business Women (NABW) and Young Women Leaders Network. In 2014, Forbes named President Banda as the 40th most powerful woman in the world and the most powerful woman in Africa.

Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca is the current President of Malta. She has served as a member of the National Executive, the Assistant General Secretary, and as the General Secretary of the Labour Party. Coleiro Preca is also the first woman to have served in a senior position in the Maltese political party. Since taking office, she has established numerous entities to ensure dialogue and to foster effective unity among people.

Paula Cox is the former Premier of Bermuda and the leader of the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party (PLP). Cox was first elected to Parliament in 1996 as one of the youngest members of the House of Assembly. She has since been appointed as Minister of Education and Development, Minister of Finance, Attorney-General and the first PLP Minister of Labour, Home Affairs and Public Safety.

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović is the current and first female President of Croatia. Grabar Kitarović was also the first female Minister of European Affairs and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration. Before her election from 2008 to 2014, she was the Croatian ambassador to the United States and Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy at NATO. In 2016, Forbes magazine listed Grabar-Kitarović the world’s 46th most powerful woman.

Ameenah Gurib-Fakim is the current and first female elected President of Mauritius. Prior to serving as President, she worked as Managing Director of CIDP Research & Innovation, where she researched the medical and nutritive implications of indigenous plants of Mauritius as the leading scientist. In 2015, Gurib-Fakim was honored as one of Foreign Policy’s Global Thinkers.

Kersti Kaljulaid is the fifth and current President of Estonia. She is the first female head of state of Estonia and the country’s youngest President. Kaljulaid served as Estonia’s representative in the European Court of Auditors from 2004 until 2016. Since 2011, she has been the chairperson of the board of the University of Tartu.

Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila is the fourth and current Prime Minister of Namibia. She has been a member of the National Assembly of Namibia since 1995 and served as Minister of Finance from 2003 to 2015.On Heroes’ Day 2014, she was conferred the Most Brilliant Order of the Sun, Second Class.

Theresa May is the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party. She is the second woman to hold the post of British prime minister, following Margaret Thatcher. Following the 2010 general election, May was appointed Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities. She went on to become the longest-serving Home Secretary. May is also the first woman to have held two of the Great Offices of State.

Pratihba Patil is the former President of India. She was the country’s first woman to be democratically elected president and she served from 2007 to 2012.She joined the Indian National Congress and entered politics in 1962 as a member of the Maharashtra legislative assembly. In 1985, she won a seat in the Rajya Sabha (upper chamber of the Indian parliament), and she served as deputy chairman from 1986 to 1988. Patil also previously served as the Governor of Rajasthan from 2004 to 2007.

Simonetta Sommaruga is a current member of the Swiss Federal Council, the federal government of Switzerland, and head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police. In 2014, she served as Vice President of the Swiss Confederation and succeeded to President the following year. Sommaruga has been involved in politics since 1981 and continues to further the rights of minorities, including women.

Erna Solberg is the current Prime Minister of Norway and Leader of the Conservative Party. Solberg has been a member of the Storting since 1989 and served as Minister of Local Government and Regional Development from 2001 to 2005. Solberg additionally served as the leader of Norway’s Conservative Women’s association.


About the Council of Women World Leaders

The Council of Women World Leaders is a network of current and former women prime ministers and presidents established in 1996 by Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, President of Iceland (1980-1996) and first woman in the world to be democratically elected president, Mary Robinson, President of Ireland (1990-1997) and Laura Liswood, Secretary General. The Council’s goal is to use the symbolic importance of women leaders and the substantive experience of its members to support women’s full participation and representation in the political process at the highest levels, and encourage future women leaders. President Dalia Grybauskaitė of Lithuania serves as Chair of the Council. The Council is hosted at the UN Foundation and has 63 members.

The Council of Women World Leaders can be contacted at