Last week when I was cleaning my house I had a week's worth of papers to sort thru. In doing that I came across several women that have become leaders of their countries recently. Ofcourse my favorite Woman leader so far has been Margaret Thatcher. I'm planning on doing more research and doing a conservative profile on her because she is awesome. She is a tough, conservative woman who was Reagan's "conservative soulmate". I love her nickname "Iron Lady".
Here are some statistics about women leaders according to an article in the KC Star entitled "More Women Emerge to Lead Their Nations":
--Approximately 45 women have been presidents or prime ministers from 1950-2000
--There are 12 female heads of state elected or appointed since 2000
--Current Women Leaders:
1) Bangladesh--Prime Minister Khaleda Zia
2) Germany--Chancellor Angela Merkel
3) Ireland--President Mary McAleese
4) Latvia--President Vaira Vike-Freiberga
5) New Zealand--Prime Minister Helen Clark
6) Philippines--President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
7) Liberia--President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
There are 3 Women who have come to power just recently that I would like to highlight.
First, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was elected to be President of Liberia. Not only is she the first woman president of Liberia but the first woman to be elected president in Africa. She was just inaugurated into office on January 16th with Condoleezza Rice and Laura Bush standing by in support. Ironically her nickname is "Liberia's Iron Lady". Here are some excerpts from a Washington Post article written about her before she was elected:
"Nicknamed the "Iron Lady of Liberia," the 66-year-old economist has often held jobs in fields dominated by men, including finance minister of Liberia and vice president of Citicorp. She has also run for office against one autocratic Liberian leader and gone to prison for criticizing another.
Johnson-Sirleaf's campaign pledges to stop corruption and promote development hold appeal for people in Liberia, which emerged in 2003 from 14 years of civil war that left an estimated 200,000 dead and the infrastructure destroyed.
She also has promised to bring electricity to the capital within six months and to launch an ambitious education program that includes rebuilding schools, opening vocational training centers and promoting sports.
Although Johnson-Sirleaf's election would make her the first female head of government in Africa, she is one of a long list of Liberian women who have made their mark on domestic or international politics."
Second, is Angela Merkel who became the first woman Chancellor of Germany on November 22nd of last year. She is a 51 year old Conservative, Protestant Christian (although I think that term has a much different meaning in Germany than the U.S.). She is a Pastor's daughter and Mahndisa will be happy to know she was a physicist before entering politics. She has been underestimated by her political foes and when she was in Chancellor Kohl's cabinet he referred to her as "my girl" or "the girl". As Chancellor she has vowed to improve the German economy and reduce Germany's high unemployment rate. Here is an excerpt from what Wikipedia had to say about her:
"According to an article in Der Spiegel, her background in the former GDR has served her well in post-reunification politics. For the first 36 years of her life, she honed her skills at disguising her inner thoughts and feelings — essential for survival in a society where every room might contain a State Security Police (Stasi) informer, and especially for a pastor's daughter. Speaking near-perfect English and remarking on her background as an "Ossi", she says: "Anyone who really has something to say doesn't need make-up". Besides being fluent in English Angela Merkel also speaks Russian fluently."I personally loved the make-up line :-).
Third, is Michelle Bachelet who is not only the first woman to be elected as President of Chile but the first woman to win in a direct election in a major Latin American country. She won in a run-off election on January 15th of this year. She will be inaugurated in March. She is a 54 year old, single mother who is a Chilean Socialist. Her father was in the Air Force so she traveled a lot as a child and even spent some time in the U.S. where she became fluent in English. After the military coup in 1973 that brought Pinochet to power her father was imprisoned and tortured to death. In 1975 Bachelet and her mother were also imprisoned and tortured and later that year exiled to Australia. Eventually in 1979 she moved back to Chile and became a surgeon.
She delved into politics after democracy was restored to Chile in 1990. She eventually was appointed to be the Defense Minister in 2002. She was the first woman to hold this position in a Latin American Country. Here is some excerpts from a BBC article about her:
"The 54-year-old became the sole candidate for the ruling centre-left coalition after another woman, Soledad Alvear, dropped out of the contest in late May.
The coalition, known as Concertacion, has held power since the return of democracy in 1990 and Ms Bachelet says she will carry on the tradition of maintaining strong economic growth - but has also pledged change.
Ms Bachelet, who will be inaugurated in March, is keen to bridge the gap between rich and poor."
The reason for my title is it is fascinating to watch women rise to leadership but not all of it is good. I'm all for conservative women being in leadership positions but I'd still take a conservative man over a liberal woman. I've only done minimal research on these women but I definitely think Merkel is going to be an improvement for Germany. She is probably a moderate but pro-American and supportive of the War in Iraq. Bachelet on the other hand is an admitted Socialist and an agnostic. I can't imagine that she's going to lead Chile in a good direction. Sirleaf seems to be an amazing woman but don't know much about her politics yet so it will be interesting to see. She's vowing to fight corruption and if she can make any headway with that it will be a good thing.
We may soon have a woman president here in the U.S. Although I think most of us are praying it won't be Hillary. And one of the reasons Condi is such an attractive candidate to conservatives is: she is conservative, brilliant and she would be the first African American and first woman president. That would be a very cool way to make history.
KC Star articles: 1) Will Women Show a New Way? by Trudy Rubin
2) More Women Emerge to Lead Their Nations by Rick Montgomery
Liberia's 'Iron Lady' Goes for Gold
Merkel's Meteoric Rise to Power
The Woman Taking Chile's Top Job