Sunday, February 05, 2006

Women Leaders--The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

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 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

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
Liberia's 'Iron Lady' Goes for Gold

Angela Merkel
Merkel's Meteoric Rise to Power

Michelle Bachelet
The Woman Taking Chile's Top Job


Bloviating Zeppelin said...

All good points. But be very careful when you classify women electorates from South America. Some are not as conservative as you may think. Merkel included.

Maggie Thatcher: the UK will NEVER see another PM as clear minded as MT.

She was the European equivalent to Ronnie precisely when Ronnie needed help from the Euro community.

I see Condi in the Maggie vein.

There is a HUGE opening in the American political landscape.

And no one but me seems to see it present.

Wish I could run. I'd wipe the American nation like Reagan did in 1979. Ooops, sorry, gave some of it away.

Dionne said...

BZ: I clarified that Merkel would be considered a moderate here. I realize that she wouldn't be our kind of conservative but she's pro-American and thats a lot better than Schroder. And Bachelet is definitely not a conservative.

Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

02 05 06

Hey LMC: Thanks for mentioning me. I didn't know she was a physicist. That is really cool. I really like this post LMC; you have really been putting the research down lately! And speaking of that, I watched a special on Ms. Thatcher not too long ago on PBS and she was amazing. One thing I liked was her healthy fear of unigov. And she vehemently was against having uniform currency. To her credit, the pound is still worth more than the Euro and the dollar. Great article! And BZ has a point about how we might characterize conservative and I liked the caveat about how Merkel was a Protestent Christian. Religion in Europe seems to be practiced differently...EXCELLENT POST LMC Keep it up! I haven't been posting too much lately, but I have enjoyed visiting you and the Usual Suspects:)

Assorted Babble by Suzie said...

A week’s worth of papers? OMG don’t come to my house!! (LOL) I probably have papers and mags dating back for a decade. (LOL)
Yes, I loved PM Margaret Thatcher!! I also love Tony Blair; I know he is a man and not the subject of this post. (smiling) However, to me, he is so handsome and brave!!
I remember reading and looking at the pictures of our First Lady and Condi in Liberia, it wasn’t publicized as much as it should have been. I think something was going on that week that dominated the news; nonetheless, this woman leader should hopefully make a difference. I pray it does, that country needs hope and change.

Your posts are always so well researched and informative, I truly enjoy them. In regards to Germany, it is a wonderful change from who had that position before. Chile may be another story as you indicated.

Oh, Condi please, I plead with you!!! (smiling) I just watched moments ago an interview that Brian *Kimeade* from Fox N Friends had with Condi at the Superbowl last night. She would be perfect as President. She shines with leadership and brilliance. However, like you, I would rather have a conservative man than a liberal woman in office running our country at the highest level.
Excellent post once again!!! Way to go LMC!!!

P.S. Thanks for these facts and listing current women leaders: Awesome!!
--Approximately 45 women have been presidents or prime ministers from 1950-2000
--There are 12 female heads of state elected or appointed since 2000

Dionne said...

Mahndisa & Suzie: Thanks for your kind words and great comments!!

Assorted Babble by Suzie said...

Are you watching the hearings on CSPAN? I am trying to...and fighting on my blog at the same time.

Women Leaders.."The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" (smiling)

juanitagf said...

Interesting post. I always learn something new when I stop by. Thanks!

The Conservative UAW Guy said...

Great post.
Also, when is the companion post to the previous post, featuring hot conservatie actresess?

Rivka said...

Chatter, Blogspot must be having extreme difficulties.. My blog is down again.. I can't get into it.. it doesn't even come up.

There is supposed to be another scheduled outage for techinal fixes at 7 p.m. pacific time, tonight, but i don't care cuz 24 is on!!

Dionne said...

Jgf: I'm glad to hear that.

CUG: Patrick already did that but you are free to do a posting on that yourself :-) too.

ABFreedom said...

Excellent post LMC, all these powerful women in the world, and I have to eat another frozen dinner ... sheeesh .... LOL

Lone Pony said...

Dee, beautiful! I love the pics. I adore Condi. This post is important. Our daughters need to hear more about strong women like this. I wish I had.

Gayle said...

Brilliant post, lmc. I would like to see Condy run for president too. I think she would be great!

Dionne said...

ABF: You crack me up :-)!!

LP: I agree!!

Gayle: Thanks!

TexasFred said...

Iron Drawers Maggie...

There will NEVER be one any better...

Reagan had massive respect for Ms Thatcher, and that says it ALL...

Rivka said...

Chatter, I wanted to e-mail you, but can you believe what is going on at the funeral today? Amazing. How rude to do while Bush is there.

Mr. Grey Ghost said...

Nice post! I didn't know that much about women presidents or prime ministers till reading this post, tho' I have been familiar with Thatcher.

As for today's world, I dont think America is as ready for a female President as people like to think. Condi's never gonna' run and we just need to keep painting Hillary as the liberal she really is, so she doesn't stand a chance to win.

Dionne said...

Fred: "Iron drawers Maggie"-- I love that :-).

Rebecca: Jimmy Carter strikes again. Someone was just asking me recently why I didn't like him, hello????

GG: I didn't know much about women leaders before this either. Thats why it was an interesting post to do.

To be honest I don't know if the U.S. is ready for a woman president or not.

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Dionne said...

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