Res Publica - Journal of Undergraduate Research


In the post World War II period only fifty women have been elected heads of state of their respective countries. Of these fifty women, eleven have come from South and Southeast Asia, including the first female head of state, Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka2. These eleven women represent the second highest number of elected women presidents and prime ministers in a world region, behind Western Europe.

This paper contends that the political cultural variables that influence voters in the South and Southeast Asian region in electing female heads of state include the following: patriarchal perceptions of women, affinity for charismatic leaders, public regard of elite dynasties and public experience of the effects of colonialism.