20.07.

Sirimavo Bandaranaike – the first woman prime minister in world history – 1960

Sirimavo Bandaranaike – the first woman prime minister in world history – 1960

Sirimavo Bandaranaike was the wife of former Ceylon Prime Minister Solomon Bandaranaike, and after his assassination, as a widow, she took over the leadership of the Freedom Party of Sri Lanka, with which she won the 1960 democratic parliamentary elections.

On July 20, 1960, politician Sirimavo Bandaranaike won along with her party in the parliamentary elections in Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka), making her the first female prime minister in world history. Her husband, Solomon Bandaranaike, was previously Ceylon’s prime minister from 1956 to 1959, but was assassinated on September 26, 1959 in a bloody assassination. As a widow, Sirimavo took over the leadership of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), with which she won the democratic parliamentary elections on July 20, 1960.

On July 21, she was sworn in as Prime Minister, ie the Prime Minister of Ceylon (the official name of Sri Lanka for that country was introduced only in 1972, although the Prime Minister’s party bore that name much earlier in its name). The Freedom Party of Sri Lanka won 75 of the 151 seats in parliament in the 1960 election, meaning it lacked very little to an absolute majority. Before Ceylon, no country in the world had a prime minister, and during the same 1960s it was followed by India (where Indira Gandhi became prime minister in 1966) and Israel (where Golda Meir became prime minister in 1969). The first European country with a woman at the head of the government became Great Britain, and only in 1979, when Margaret Thatcher became the Prime Minister there.

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