Philobiblon: The world's new female leaders are doing well

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The world's new female leaders are doing well

Bronwen Maddox in The Times today reports that Angela Merkel is doing "astonishingly" well in running Germany.

Just months after an election Merkel barely won, over Gerhard Schroder, Chancellor for seven years, she now has the approval of an astounding 80 per cent of Germans. They seem pleased that their unorthodox choice -— female, from the East, Protestant, divorced, and childless -— has proved a success. "She'’s seen off the men in suits," said one Western official. "It is a central moment in German unification."

I'm not really sure that this should be a surprise. Given all of the obstacles - particularly the extremely patriarchal structure of German society - that she had to surmount to get where she did, she's probably finding actually running the country a breeze.

That prompted me to go looking to see how other recently elected women leaders were doing.

In Liberia, there is controversy because Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has appointed the head of the electoral commission as justice minister.

The BBC's Jonathan Paye-Layleh in the capital, Monrovia, says it is almost certain that [Frances Johnson-Morris'] nomination will be backed by the senate.
She would become Liberia's first female justice minister - named by its first elected female leader.

Perhaps it would be better not to have done that, but I don't suppose the country is exactly over-supplied with qualified people unsullied by contact with previous regimes.

In Chile, meanwhile, Michelle Bachelet, has kept her pledge in select a gender-balanced cabinet.
The 54-year-old pediatrician and president-elect designated her cabinet of ministers, which for the first time in history will be made up of equal numbers of men and women ... Several of Bachelet's 10 women ministers have been appointed to key portfolios, including the General Secretariat of the Presidency, in charge of relations with Congress, to be headed by socialist lawyer Paulina Veloso, and the Defence Ministry, under economist Vivianne Blanlot of the Party for Democracy (PPD).

There's even talk that France might soon see its first female president, Segolene Royal.

And maybe America? Well I don't believe the Hillary Clinton versus Condoleezza Rice scenario, but, hey, it would certainly make for an interesting race. Just imagine all those old white males in suits spluttering in indignant incomprehension.


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