Italian Youth Policy and Sports Minister Giovanna Melandri. She was born in New York on January 28, 1962, and earned a diploma 'cum laude' in economics and commerce at the Sapienza University of Rome.
From 1983 to 1987, she was a coordinator for the work group on industrial and technological politics for Italian industrial holding company Montedison.
In 1991 she became part of the national secretariat for Democrats of the Left. She has been a deputy for the Italian Parliament since 1994.
Melandri, who also holds US citizenship, cast a vote for Barack Obama during the 2008 Democrats Abroad primary election.
Between 1998 and 2001 she was Minister of Culture in the governments of Massimo D'Alema and Giuliano Amato. On May 17, 2006, she was named Minister for Youth and Sports in the second government of Romano Prodi.
Italian politician Michela Vittoria Brambilla. Brambilla is also a businesswoman, and is commonly believed to be a possible successor to Silvio Berlusconi for leadership of the Italian Right. On August 21, 2007, she set up the new Freedom People apparently with his blessing, the goal of which is to merge the Right-wing allies of Berlusconi.
Heiress of a four-generation-old family of steel manufacturers, she received a degree in philosophy from the Universit?Cattolica del Sacro Cuore.
In 2006, she lost an election for the Chamber of Deputies on the Forza Italia party ticket. In 2007, she named herself president of the National Association of Freedom Circles, the political organisation she created. The association has more than 6,000 clubs all over Italy.
Before entering politics she was a television journalist for Berlusconi's Mediaset group. She is the general executive manager of Trafilerie Brambilla spa, a steel manufacturing firm, and is president of two businesses.
She rose quickly to national prominence in 2003 after having been named president of the under-40 entrepreneurs council at Confcommercio. She is frequently invited as a guest on TV talk shows, where she often provokes heated arguments with her opponents on the Centre-Left.
Claudia Roth, chairwoman of the German Green Party. Born on May 15, 1955, in Ulm, Roth began her artistic work, which she always regarded as also being political, in the 1970s as a trained artistic director at a theatre in Memmingen. She then worked at the municipal theatre in Dortmund and the Hoffmanns-Comic-Teater, and later became involved with political rock band 'Ton Steine Scherben'.
She came into contact with the Green party on election campaign tours. In 1985, she became press spokesperson for the Greens in the Bundestag, despite being a newcomer to this line of work.
In July 1989, she was elected as a Member of the European Parliament for the Greens for the first time.
Amongst other things, she was a member of two committees of inquiry in the European Parliament, namely the Committee of Inquiry into Racism and Xenophobia and the Committee of Inquiry into Links between Organised Crime and Drugs, as well as of the EC-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee.
On March 17, 2006, she reported herself to the German police for displaying a crossed-out swastika on multiple demonstrations against Neo-Nazis, and then got the Bundestag to suspend her immunity from prosecution. She intended to portray the absurdity of charging anti-fascists with using fascist symbols: "We don't need (the) prosecution of non-violent young people engaging against Right-wing extremism," she said.
Former Miss Universe 1982 Irene Saez, who was born on December 13, 1961. In the early 1990s, S?ez served two terms as mayor of Chacao, one of the five municipalities that make up Caracas, and gained some notoriety by banning overly passionate kissing in public parks. She was the first mayor of Chacao elected by popular vote. Previously all mayors were chosen by the governor of Caracas.
In 1997, she formed the Integrated Representation of New Hope (IRENE) party as a launching pad for her run in the 1998elections.
For a while, she shocked the Venezuelan political establishment when she led in opinion polls in the race for president and was the most popular politician in the early days of the race.
However, her decision to ally herself with two otherpolitical parties, COPEI and Democratic Action, along with some poorly executed television interviews, as well as the growing popularity of Hugo Ch?vez, all combined to result in her tumble from the top of the polls. Eventually, in the December 1998 election, she finished a distant third with 2.8 per cent of the vote.
From 1999 to 2000, she served as governor of the state of Nueva Esparta.
Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Born on February 19, 1953, Kirchner is the current president of Argentina and a member of the Justicialist Party.
In the October 2007 general election, Fern?ndez ran for president, representing the ruling Front for Victory party. She won the presidency with 45.29 per cent of the vote and a 22 per cent lead over her nearest rival - one of the widest margins a candidate has obtained since democracy returned in 1983.
She is Argentina's second female president (after Isabel Mart?nez de Per?n), but the first to be elected. Sworn in on December 10, 2007, she became the first wife in history to be elected to succeed her husband as president. N?stor Kirchner has also become the first First Gentleman in Argentine history.
French politician Segolene Royal, who was a prominent candidate for the presidency in the 2007 election but lost to Nicolas Sarkozy.
Born on September 22, 1953, she is the president of the Poitou-Charentes region, a former member of the National Assembly, a former government minister and a prominent member of the Socialist Party. On November 16, 2006, Socialist Party members elected her as their candidate for the 2007 French presidential election. She is considered likely to seek a rematch with NicolasSarkozy in the 2012 presidential election.
In the first round of voting in that election, on April 22, 2007, Royal received 25.87 per cent of votes to qualify for the second round to face Nicolas Sarkozy, who received 31.18 per cent. Sarkozy was elected on May 6, with 53.06 per cent of the votes, and Royal lost the election with 46.94 percent.
Royal is known for her admiration of some 'Third Way' policies, for her controversial insistence on law and order issues, and for her support of devolution andparticipatory democracy.
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. Born on July 8, 1958, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Livni is foreign affairs minister, acting prime minister of Israel, and a leading member of the Kadima party.
After the March 2006 Knesset election, Livni was described as"the second most powerful politician in Israel".
Livni is the second woman in Israel to hold the post of foreign minister, after Golda Meir.
In 2007, she was included in the Time '100 Most Influential People in the World'.
Hungarian born Ilona Staller, 52, also known as Cicciolina, is a former member of Italy's parliament elected in 1987, and a former porn star. Born on November 26, 1951, Staller was the first hardcore performer in the world to be elected to a democratic parliament.
In 1979, Staller was presented as candidate to the Italian Parliament from the 'Lista del Sole', Italy's first Green Party. In 1985, she switched to the Partito Radicale, campaigning against nuclear energy and NATO membership, for human rights, and against world hunger. She was elected to the Italian parliament in 1987, with 20,000 votes, representing the Lazio district of Rome.
She announced in September 1990, when it was becoming clear that the Persian Gulf War was inevitable, "I am available to make love with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to achieve peace in the Middle East." She renewed the offer in October 2002, when Iraq was resisting international pressure to allow inspections for weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and in April 2006made the same offer to Osama bin Laden.
She continues to be active in politics, advocating a safe future without nuclear energy and with absolute sexual freedom, including the right to sex in prisons. She is against all forms of violence, the death penalty, and the use of animals for fur or scientific experimentation.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Born on December 9, 1946, Gandhi is the widow of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. She is the chairperson of the ruling United Progressive Alliance in the Lok Sabha and the leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party.
She was named the third most powerful woman in the world byForbes magazine in 2004 and currently ranks 6th. She was also named among the Time '100 most influential people in the world in 2007.
She was returned to Parliament by a margin of over four lakh votes in the by-election for Rae Bareilly after the office-of-profit controversy blew over.
Member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Brinda Karat. Karat was elected to the Rajya Sabha as a CPI(M) member on April 11, 2005, for West Bengal.
In 2005, she became the first woman member of the CPI(M) politburo. She has also been the generalsecretary of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) from 1993 to 2004, and later its vice-president.
Born in 1953 in Karachi and the eldest daughter of former prime minister of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, she studied at Harvard University. In 1979, her father was hanged and she became leader of the PPP.
Bhutto spent seven years in exile or under house arrest. In 1986, she returned to Pakistan and in April 1987, she became prime minister of Pakistan.
On December 2, 1988, Bhutto was sworn in as prime minister of Pakistan, becoming the first woman to head the government of an Islamic state. She was re-elected in 1993 but was dismissed three years later, accused of corruption scandals concerning contracts awarded to Swiss companies during her regime.
In 1996, Bhutto was removed from government and lived in exile in the UK. Her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, spent eight years in jail until he was released in November 2004.
Bhutto was assassinated on December 27, 2007, during a campaign for the Pakistan general election.