Although not the first woman President of Argentina, lawyer and politician, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, became the first woman elected, as opposed to appointed, as the President of Argentina in 2007. De Kirchner was born in La Plata, Buenos Aires Province to a single mother. After starting college with aspirations on becoming a psychologist, she decided to study law instead, and switched to that major. She married fellow law student, Néstor Kirchner in 1973, and upon his graduation, moved to his hometown of Río Gallegos. Following their move, Cristina completed her degree through a series of exams.
Her political opponents have taken her to trial four times in regards to her education and degree. These opponents have asserted claims that she never actually earned a degree in law from National University of La Plata. At the conclusion of each trial, each judge ruled that she does in fact have the necessary degree and credentials. She went on to join the law firm her husband established specializing in taking on military personnel involved in the Dirty War.
Her political career first began when she was elected to the provincial legislature. She went on to become national senator in 1995. Other political accomplishments on the road to the presidency included election to the constituent assembly that amended the Constitution of Argentina. De Kirchner then became the First Lady from 2003 to 2007, when her husband was elected President. Following his term as President, Cristina ran for election and won.
Her initial term of office was marked with conflict. The taxation system she proposed was rejected.
She nationalized private pension funds, and the country lost its self-supplied source of energy. Her presidency was fraught with additional challenges including poor public security and a subpar energy infrastructure. Although he remained very influential during Cristina’s presidency, Nestor was the first President to be succeeded in office by a spouse, without either having passed away while in office. Many of their political opponents have theorized that Nestor refused a second term in office in order to effectively swapping roles with his wife.
Despite the fact that her initial term as President was fraught with controversy, De Kirchner won a second term by winning 54% of the votes. She proved to be an influential politician, and courageous woman famously saying, “You can be sure that all and each one of us who have institutional responsibilities will raise not only our voice but will take concrete action against any sign of anti-Semitism. We are not willing to give away what has been a historic tradition in Latin America.”
Her influence extends far beyond her presidency, showing that women have a voice in the politics that govern their lives, and that they can take on leadership in a meaningful and effective way despite an onslaught of opposition. She encourages women to join the ranks of politicians and other entrepreneurs and influencers. “Our society needs women to be more numerous in decision-making positions and in entrepreneurial areas. We always have to pass a twofold test: first to prove that, though women, we are no idiots, and second, the test anybody has to pass.”