LONDON (Wednesday – March 22, 2017) Maryam Nawaz Sharif, is among the 100 high profile influential daughters of heads of state and government across the globe. According to a list of the influential daughters, Maryam was originally involved in the family’s charity organisations and played a prominent role in managing her father’s successful re-election campaign in 2013. She now works for his party, the right-wing Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz).
“She is always the focus of attention,” says BBC Urdu’s Asif Farooqi, who has met her several times. “She has clearly emerged as someone powerful, if not a designated political heir to her father.”
Last year her name appeared in the Panama Papers, suggesting she and two of her brothers had links to undeclared offshore companies and accounts being used to acquire luxury properties in London. Her father dismissed the accusations calling the leaks the work of people “targeting me and my family for their political aims”.
Sumeyye Erdogan, 31, is the youngest daughter of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and widely seen as his favourite.
“Her father refers to her as ‘my gazelle,'” says Irem Koker, of BBC Turkish. “In Turkey that’s a word used to refer to people who are beautiful and precious.” A US and British-educated political scientist, she served as advisor to her father when he led the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and has accompanied him on numerous diplomatic trips. In 2015 there was speculation that Sumeyye might run for a seat in parliament, but in the event she did not. She currently has a lower profile role with a Turkish women’s rights advocacy group. In addition to her campaigning work Sumeyye continues to be an outspoken supporter of her father and his government.
Another daughter, with an office of her own in the White House, Ivanka Trump has cemented her status as one of the most powerful women in the Donald Trump administration. The successful businesswoman, who will not have an official title or salary, is the latest addition to a growing list of high-profile daughters of heads of state around the world. Russian president Vladimir Putin is notoriously protective of his private life, and until recently very little was known about his two daughters.
“Russian officials treat any media interest in them with utter suspicion,” says BBC Russian’s Famil Ismailov. “It’s left to journalists to test how far they can push and much of the information has never been confirmed by the family.” In 2015, the youngest daughter, Yekaterina, emerged into the spotlight after it was revealed she was living in Moscow using the name Katerina Tikhonova.
Since then Russians have learned from various media reports that she is married to businessman Kirill Shamalov, the son of one of her father’s old friends, and that the couple are worth an estimated $2bn through investments in the gas and petrochemicals industries. Now aged 30, she runs publicly-funded projects on ‘intellectual development’ at Moscow State University. She reportedly oversees contracts worth several million dollars and has members of Putin’s inner circle as advisors.
Isabel dos Santos, 43, is the eldest daughter of veteran Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has ruled the country since 1979. She heads the state-owned oil company Sonangol and in 2013, Forbesmagazine calculated she was Africa’s richest woman and first female billionaire, with an estimated net worth of over $3.2bn.
Ozoda Rahmon, 39, is the daughter of Emomali Rahmon, the long-standing president of Tajikistan. She has a law degree and began her career in the diplomatic service, before becoming deputy foreign minister in 2009. In 2016 her father made her head of the presidential administration and she also won a seat in the Senate. Ozoda is married to Jamoliddin Nuraliyev, the first deputy chairman of the Central Bank of Tajikistan and the couple have five children.
As daughter of the Cuban President Raul Castro, Mariela Castro is the niece of the late revolutionary leader Fidel. “Her mother, Vilma Espin, was seen as a champion for women’s rights,” says BBC Mundo’s Liliet Heredero. “And now the daughter has somehow followed in her footsteps.” Born in 1962, the outspoken Ms Castro is a member of parliament and also a well-known campaigner for the rights of sexual minorities. She heads the National Centre for Sex Education (Cenesex), a government-funded body in Havana which has played a key role in shaping policy on a range of issues from HIV/AIDs prevention to gay rights. She was instrumental in lobbying for new legislation passed in 2008 to make gender reassignment surgery available free of charge in Cuba. “She is however seen as a controversial figure,” says Heredero. “Many people say she has been allowed to carry on only because she is the daughter of the president.” -INP