There were many female rulers around the world, which became immortal in history. In the modern world, many women have run their country by holding the office of president or prime minister. There are also many female Buddhist politicians among them.
This article includes 10 Buddhist women who have served as President, Vice President, Prime Minister or Deputy Prime Minister of their country. You would be surprised to know that the world’s first female prime minister was a Buddhist!
There are about 18 Buddhist countries and republics in the world and Buddhist political women are among these Buddhist countries. 10 Female Buddhist Politicians Who Became Prime Minister and President.
These Buddhist women assumed the office of the Prime Minister or President of the country and ruled that country, ran that country. Buddhist women are under-represented in world politics, especially in Buddhist countries.
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10 Female Buddhist Politicians Who Served as Prime Minister and President
1. Sirimavo Bandaranaike (Prime Minister of Sri Lanka)
Sirimavo Bandaranaike (17 April 1916 – 10 October 2000) was a Sri Lankan politician and 6th prime minister of Sri Lanka. She was the world’s first female prime minister when she became Prime Minister of Sri Lanka (then the Dominion of Ceylon) in 1960. She was a follower of Buddhism.
She chaired the Sri Lanka Freedom Party from 1960 to 1994 and served three terms as prime minister, two times as the chief executive, 1960 to 1965 and 1970 to 1977, and once again in a presidential system from 1994 to 2000, governing under the presidency of her daughter Chandrika Kumaratunga.
She did many great things to improve the lives of women and girls in rural areas of Sri Lanka.
Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s husband was Solomon West Ridgeway Bandaranaike, who was the fourth Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. Their children are Chandrika Kumaratunga (the fifth President and former Prime Minister) and Anura Bandaranaike (former cabinet minister).
Since Sri Lanka is a Buddhist nation, legally the President and Prime Minister are Buddhists. About 70 percent of the population of Sri Lanka is Buddhist.
2. Chandrika Kumaratunga (President of Sri Lanka)
Chandrika Bandaranaike-Kumaratunga (born 29 June 1945) is a Sri Lankan politician who served as the fifth President of Sri Lanka, from 12 November 1994 to 19 November 2005.
The country’s first and only female president to date and the country’s second female prime minister. She is the daughter of two former prime ministers and was the leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) until the end of 2005.
Chandrika is the daughter of two former Prime Ministers of Sri Lanka, Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike and Sirimavo Bandaranaike.
3. Nyam-Osoryn Tuyaa (Prime Minister of Mongolia)
Nyam-Osoryn Tuyaa (born 1958) is a former Mongolian politician, and the acting Prime Minister from 22 to 30 July 1999. She also served as Chairperson of the 55th session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). Nyam-Osoryn Tuyaa is a Buddhist. Mongolia is also a Buddhist country with more than 90% of its population practicing Buddhism.
4. Annette Lu (Vice President of Taiwan)
Annette Lu Hsiu-lien (born 7 June 1944) is a Taiwanese politician. About 93 percent of Taiwan’s population is Buddhist, and Annette Lu is also a Buddhist. A feminist active in the tangwai movement, she joined the Democratic Progressive Party in 1990, and was elected to the Legislative Yuan in 1992.
Subsequently, she served as Taoyuan County Magistrate between 1997 and 2000, and was the Vice President of the Republic of China [Taiwan] from 2000 to 2008, under President Chen Shui-bian.
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5. Yeh Chu-lan (Vice Premier of Taiwan)
Yeh Chu-lan (born 1949) is a Taiwanese politician. She served as acting mayor of Kaohsiung and Vice Premier of the Republic of China [Taiwan]. She was Vice Premier of the Republic of China from 20 May 2004 to 21 February 2005. The post of Premier is equivalent to the post of Prime Minister.
6. Yingluck Shinawatra (Prime Minister of Thailand)
Yingluck Shinawatra (born 21 June 1967) is a Thai businesswoman, politician and a member of the Pheu Thai Party who became the 28th Prime Minister of Thailand following the 2011 election. Yingluck was Thailand’s first female prime minister and its youngest in over 60 years.
She served as the Prime Minister of Thailand from 5 August 2011 to 7 May 2014. About 95 percent of Thailand’s population is Buddhist. Yingluck Shinawatra is a follower of Theravada Buddhism. She was also the Defense Minister of Thailand from 30 June 2013 to 7 May 2014.
7. Park Geun-hye (President of South Korea)
Park Geun-hye (born 2 February 1952) is a South Korean politician. She served as the 11th President of South Korea from 25 February 2013 to 10 March 2017.
Park Geun-hye is a Buddhist by religion. South Korea is traditionally a Buddhist country. However, at present, Buddhism and Christianity are both the major religions in this country.
8. Aung San Suu Kyi (State Counsellor of Myanmar)
Aung San Suu Kyi (born 19 June 1945) is a Burmese politician, diplomat, author, and a 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. She served as State Counsellor of Myanmar (equivalent to a Prime Minister) and Minister of Foreign Affairs from 6 April 2016 to 1 February 2021.
She has served as the chairperson of the National League for Democracy (NLD) since 2011, having been the general secretary from 1988 to 2011. She played a vital role in Myanmar’s transition from military junta to partial democracy in the 2010s.
Suu Kyi first stepped into the Parliament of Myanmar as the Leader of the Opposition on 9 June 2012. She was imprisoned for several years for opposing military rule.
In 1992, she was awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru Peace Prize by the Government of India for her non-violent movement against the military oppressive regime in Myanmar.
Aung San Suu Kyi is a Buddhist. Myanmar is a Buddhist country and about 90 percent of its people are followers of Buddhist.
9. Men Sam An (Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia)
Men Sam An (born 15 August 1953) is a Cambodian politician and the current Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia. She belongs to the Cambodian People’s Party and was elected to represent Svay Rieng Province in the National Assembly in 2003.
Since 25 September 2008, she has been serving as the Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia. She is the country’s first female deputy prime minister and four-star general. She joined the army in 1970 during the US-backed Khmer Republic, starting her career as a nurse in the Army.
Cambodia is the country with the highest proportion of Buddhists, with about 98 percent of the population following Buddhism.
10. Tsai Ing-wen (President of Taiwan)
Tsai Ing-wen (born 31 August 1956) is a Taiwanese politician and academic incumbent as the 7th President of the Republic of China (Taiwan) since 20 May 2016. She is the first female president of Taiwan.
Tsai is a member of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), and has served as chair of the DPP since 2020, and previously from 2008 to 2012 and 2014 to 2018.
She also served as Voice Premier (equivalent to a deputy Prime Minister) of Taiwan from 25 January 2006 to 21 May 2008.
Tsai Ing-wen is a Buddhist. Buddhism is the largest religion in Taiwan, and more than 90% of the country’s population is Buddhist.
We often see the discussion of war between China and Taiwan in the news, at that time we often see Xi Jinping (President of China) and Tsai Ing-wen in the headlines.
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