Some argue that the world has changed and it’s time for a more female approach to leadership at all levels. We have had women leaders before : Margaret Thatcher and Indira Ghandi for example. Now, however, there are an increasing number of women leading the way at the very top position of their countries.
Michelle Bachelet, a former doctor, became President of Chile in January 2006. In a traditionally strong male culture, Michelle is charismatic and promises to minimise the gap between rich and poor and give minorities a voice.
Portia Simpson Miller, a Harvard graduate, was elected Prime Minister of Jamaica in 2006. Her platform was helping the poor and tackling crme and underdevelopment.
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia, is the first female President in Africa, sweeping to power in 2006. Educated at Harvard she paid the price for speaking out against government corruption twenty years ago.
Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany. A former chemist, Angela hailed from communist-led East Germany and came to power with the Christian Democratic party in 2005.
Luisa Diogo has been President of Mozambique since 2004. Trained in London as an Economist, Luisa now plays a critical part in building the economy of one of the poorest nations on Earth.
Khaleda Zia has been Prime Minister of Bangladesh since 2001. Introducing free compulsory education for primary school aged children and a food for education program. She previously served as Prime Minister.
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Philippines has survived a coup and many controversies, allegations and charges of election-rigging since she came to power in 2001.
Tarja Halonen has held the role as President of Finland since 2000 and is now serving her second term. A working-class woman who became a lawyer she is seen as down-to-earth, independent and committed to socialist ideals.
Vaira Vike-Freiberga was the first female head of state in Eastern Europe when she was elected President of Latvia in 1999. Raised in Canada, she is well thought of as contender for the next UN Secretary General position.
Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand for her third term after initial election in 1999. She has overseen a stable governement, strong economic growth and low unemployment.
It is noticeable that these are not leading or large countries which these women run but in many cases they have beaten entrenched patriarchial structures to take power, have accepted the challenge of governing poor or struggling economies and in some cases with significant challenges such as poverty and illiteracy. A number have served more than one term in their role demonstrating longevity and competence. More significantly, they pave the way for more developed or sizable countires to have women in the ultimate position of power.
[source: Australian Women’s Weekly, April 2006]