Sunday, October 28, 2007

Women can lead -- a digest

By Carol Gee

POTUS -- If Hillary Clinton becomes the President of the United States, she would not be breaking new ground world-wide . It would only be a first for the U.S. It is time for everyone to understand that having a woman head of state is not the big deal for many countries that it seems to be here in America.

"The case for more female heads of state" was well articulated a while ago by Joe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice. His argument is a powerful one, in my opinion. He tells us:

When I was on a blog talk radio show last Friday a caller asked about the impact of a possible Hillary Clinton win on the world. My answer was that a woman as head of state might still be a big deal in parts of the United States but it isn’t in many parts of the world — and on this the U.S. is behind the times.

Worldwide Guide to Women in Leadership -- The Introduction is an excellent summary of the realities of this issue (the emphasis in blue is mine):

This site is dedicated to the women who have ruled since the beginning of times - or as long as the sources date back.

There have always been female rulers. Some Egyptian Queens are believed to have governed from around 3000 BCE, and the first to be named by the sources without any doubt is Ku-baba, who ruled the Mesopotamian City-State of Ur round 2500 BCE.

First female ministers
However, it was not until after World War I that the first few women became members of governments. Nina Bang, Danish Minister of Education 1924-26 was the world's first full female cabinet minister. Nevertheless, development was slow and it was not until the end of the 20th century that female ministers stopped being unusual.

First female Prime Minister and President In 1960 Sirivamo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka became the world's first female elected Premier Minister and in 1974 Isabel Perón of Argentina became the first woman President - one woman had been Acting Head of Government and two women Acting Heads of State before that.

Today, the only two countries, which never had a female member of government in at least a sub-ministerial position, are Monaco and Saudi Arabia. The Vatican has got one Assistant Vice-Minister. In 1999 Sweden became the first country to have more female ministers than male. 11 women and 9 men, in 2007 the Finish government had 60% women.

Current female heads of state and government
There are 192 members of the United Nations and 2 independent states outside. 17 have got female leaders at the moment.

Of the monarchies, there are reigning Queens in 3 countries: Denmark, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom - and the latter is represented by female Governor Generals in Antigua and Barbuda, Canada and Saint Lucia, who function as their countries' de-facto Heads of State.

The 7 female Presidents are in Chile, Finland, India, Ireland, Liberia, The Philippines and Switzerland.

At the moment there are 4 woman Prime Ministers; in Germany, New Zealand, Mozambique and The Netherlands Antilles. For more details see:
Situation in 2007

About -- Women's History.com is hosted by Jone Johnson Lewis. I subscribe to her handy e-mail newsletters about women's history. Not long ago she featured Doris Lessing, who was in the news a few weeks ago because of her reaction to becoming a Nobel Prize winner. Lewis also has a very link-rich list of pages titled, "Female Presidents, Women Prime Ministers, Women Heads of State."

Wikipedia lists six "Current Female Heads of Government": Michelle Bachellet of Chile, Helen Clark of New Zealand, Luisa Diogo of Mozambique, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Philippines, and Angela Merkel of Germany. There is also a nice "List of elected or appointed female heads of state."

Dear Jay: Last year, Ask Yahoo! answered the question sent by Jay, "Which countries currently have a female head of state?" This is a better and much more inclusive list than the Wiki list of six above.

It's "Great Balls of Fire" -- Judith Hicks Stiehm, in the Political Science Department at Florida International University, provides this as background music for her charming little list of women leaders. She invites her readers to e-mail her if anyone is missing off the list.

Today's digest is a good resource for people who want material to support the idea of Hillary as POTUS. She would be in fine company, if she becomes a member of this relatively old Club.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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