Exclusive Club shaping
by Cees Bruggemans
In the modern post-WW2 era, there have been notable political women leaders. Golda Meir, Maggie Thatcher, Indira Ghandi, Benazir Bhutto stand out, Cristina Kirchner less so. Some were major reformers (Maggie), others mothers to their nation (Golda). Some were thoroughly detested (going strictly by Kissinger).
But they were only mostly a sprinkling in their time, though each a torch bearer, breaking old moulds. Today, we have a whole bevy of women leaders in the most senior political positions around the world, and fate may be about to turn them into a posse. There is Angela Merkel in Germany, Theresa May in Britain, Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland, Dalia Grybrauskaite in Lithuania, Beata Szydlo in Poland, Erna Solberg in Norway, Arneenah Gurib in Mauritius, Marie Preca in Malta, Janet Yellen at the Fed, Christine Lagarde at the IMF. And waiting in the wings are Clinton in the US and Le Pen in France. And of course Zuma in SA.
Of these many notable ladies in power at present, some stand out, especially Merkel, May, Yellen and Lagarde. The one thing about all four of them is extreme caution, this in sharp contrast to the arrogant flamboyance of some of their male competitors for high office, or interlocutors in high office, whose peacock-like strutting on the world stage need no reminder.
On their own, they often have had to maintain themselves in an all male world. But with their numbers (and projected power) dramatically on the increase (especially if Clinton were to join the fraternity from next year, and assuming Merkel gets another term, and May survives her Conservative Party), we have here an interesting break with the past.
The most serious question would be whether their caution would continue and come to prevail even more persuasively, or whether as a group they would turn more activist?
The most serious challenge facing these ladies is economic in nature. How to get their particular regions to perform better, and thereby the world at large. A close second challenge is how to contain the male peacocks and dominant bulls of their time. One thinks of a Putin, Trump, Xi, Erdogan. But also Iranian mullahs, Syria’s Assad or the North Korean boy wonder. And not forgetting Juncker in Brussels and Schulz in Strasbourg.
Among this sisterhood only Theresa today controls the nuclear button. No doubt a very special feeling, and hopefully light to the touch. But if Clinton and Le Pen were to join the club, things could get more interesting, not least because Angela would be outclassed.
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