Thursday, January 5, 2012

No leadership from the United States

There are currently 28 women who are heads of state around the world. Three of them are by virtue of royalty but it still counts. For a country that claims to be the most powerful and a leader in the world, the United States is found wanting in the area of female leaders.

Michele Bachmann
Michele Bachmann, the only woman bidding for the position of Commander-in-Chief, just pulled out of the U.S. presidential campaign. She seemed to have gained a following with high poll numbers but soon fell out of favor with Republican voters. The U.S. media makes or breaks many of these candidates. It is interesting that in a country where there is much ado about equal opportunity, there seems to be a skewed bias in favor of male leaders. President Obama, a newbie in politics, was elected and favored over the seasoned Hillary Clinton.

There are many women's political groups that promote and endorse women candidates. However, I did not see or hear any of these groups speak out in favor of Michele Bachmann. Are women their own worst enemies? Why was there no push to get the first U.S. female president?

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf - Liberia
The first female president in the Continent of Africa is President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia. She was elected in the 2005 elections and took office in January 2006. Sirleaf was successfully re-elected in 2011 for a second term. Her rise to this position was made possible by the mass action of women in Liberia. Sirleaf had tried to run for president in 1997 but was not successful. The women of Liberia had had enough of the mismanagement of the country by men and decided to propel in a woman. Women made the difference. The power of women's voices put Sirleaf on the top seat.

PM Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir of Iceland

Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir of Iceland is not only Iceland's first female Prime Minister, she is also the world's first openly lesbian head of government. She came to power when the women of Iceland decided that the men had made a mockery of their country running it into bankruptcy. Jóhanna is a seasoned politician. In the 1990s she lost a bid to head the party and in frustration she lifted her fist and declared "Minn timi mun koma!" ("My time will come!"). The phrase has now become a popular Icelandic expression. She was also listed among the 100 Most Powerful Women in the world, by Forbes in 2009.

President Dalia Grybauskaitė of Lithuania
Dalia Grybauskaitė is the first female president of Lithuania. She won the presidential elections in 2009 in a landslide. President Grybauskaitė is often referred to as "Iron Lady" or "Steel Magnolia" because of her outspoken speech and her black belt in Karate. She is multi-lingual; fluent in English, French, Russian and Polish. President Grybauskaitė is unmarried and has no children  (the suffix-aitė on her surname is for unmarried Lithuanian women). 

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