Women in Politics: Drivers of Good Governance


Once upon a time, the world of government and leadership seemed like an exclusive club where mostly men held the keys to decision-making. It was a world where women’s voices often struggled to be heard, and their contributions were overshadowed. But in recent times, something remarkable has been happening—a transformation that’s rewriting the story of governance across the globe.

Imagine stepping into the grand rooms where laws are debated, and policies are crafted. In these important places, women are not just in the audience; they’re taking charge. It’s like an exciting adventure, following these women as they navigate the complex world of politics and international affairs.

As we journey through their stories, we encounter tales of determination and resilience. These women face obstacles and discrimination because of their gender, but they refuse to be held back. Instead, they bring courage, strength, and innovative ideas to the table, challenging old ways of thinking. Their stories are captivating, filled with twists and turns that keep us engaged.

But it’s not just about storytelling. We’ll also uncover facts and evidence that reveal how women are fundamentally changing the way countries are governed. They’re not just making a difference; they’re rewriting the rules.

So, join us on this thrilling adventure as we explore the inspiring world of women in governance, where they’re not just shaping policy but also shaping the future for all of us. It’s a story of hope, progress, and the unstoppable power of change.

Transforming the World, One Swipe at a Time

In today’s world, where the demand for gender equality is stronger than ever, let’s take a look at the “Women in Politics: 2023 Map.” It’s like a spotlight on a concerning issue – the lack of women in top global decision-making roles.

Importance of Women in Politics
Image credit: https://pathwaystopolitics.org.au/

As of January 1, 2023, there are only 31 countries with women leading as Heads of State or Government. That’s not a lot, considering there are so many countries out there. And when it comes to women in Parliaments worldwide, they only occupy about 26.5% of the seats. Cabinet Ministers? Well, that’s a modest 22.8% globally.

Now, imagine Australia hanging out with Ecuador, Moldova, Burundi, France, and Slovenia in a group. What do they have in common? Their percentages of women in parliamentary roles. It’s like they’re all in the same boat, facing similar challenges.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. In this cover story, we’re going to explore the recent progress made globally in getting more women involved in politics. We’re shining a light on some incredible women leaders, their impressive achievements, the obstacles they’ve conquered, and the incredible contributions they’ve made.

So, let’s celebrate these remarkable women who are making a difference in the world of politics, one step at a time!

Africa – Sahle-Work Zewde’s Impact in Ethiopia

Let’s kick things off in Africa with a look at Sahle-Work Zewde. She’s been Ethiopia’s first female president since 2018, and she’s not just holding the title – she’s actively promoting peace and gender equality. Her story is one of resilience and determination.

Importance of Women in Politics
President Sahle-Work Zewde and Filsan Abdulahi, then Minister of Women, Children and Youth, visiting a coding and robotics training programme for orphaned children in Addis Ababa, 2018. Image credit: UNESCO

In an interview with the UNESCO Courier, when asked about her presidential appointment and the message it sends to the young generation of girls in her country, she stated, – Young women and girls today can stand on the shoulders of current women leaders and reach heights that we could not imagine. We, as women leaders, must come together to not only keep open the doors of opportunity that we had but also to expand them for those who follow us. We say to future generations: “Yes you can” and “We are here to help get you there”.

And then there’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the former President of Liberia. She broke barriers by becoming the first woman to lead an African nation. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, known as “Africa’s Iron Lady,” steered her nation through post-war recovery and the Ebola Crisis, winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011. Her leadership, advocating for peace, justice, and women’s empowerment, left a legacy.

Asia – A Tapestry of Female Leaders

Now, let’s jet over to Asia, where we find Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh. Sheikh Hasina is the world’s longest-serving female head of government and has overseen significant poverty reduction with an average annual GDP growth of 7%. She invoked prominent cultural and historical figures, stating that Bangladesh belongs to all its citizens. She warned against using religion as a political tool, affirming her determination to prevent division and anarchy in the name of religion. This message comes as she seeks to counter religious extremism in the country. Since 2009, she’s been making significant strides in education, healthcare, and economic development. Her focus on social welfare has improved countless lives.

And then there’s Seiko Hashimoto, Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister. She brings a unique perspective to the table as a former Olympian and advocate for gender equality in sports. Her appointment sends a clear message about promoting women’s empowerment. Yoko Kamikawa is our next stop. She’s been making waves in Japan’s legal and political scene. As a member of the House of Representatives and a former Minister of Justice, she’s all about upholding the rule of law and promoting justice.

Image credit: cosmo.ph

Over in the Philippines, Vice President Leni Robredo is a leading voice for social justice and women’s rights. Leni’s commitment to public service led her to become a lawyer, then a Representative, and eventually Vice President. She has championed various legislative initiatives and remained resilient in the face of challenges and accusations, notably addressing claims of debate cheating with grace and humor. Her impact is felt at home and on the international stage.

Lastly, we can’t forget Yuriko Koike, the Governor of Tokyo. Yuriko Koike is a formidable political figure in Japan, with a knack for challenging the status quo. She’s been at the forefront of preparing Tokyo for major events like the Olympic Games, showcasing strong leadership and organizational skills. Her charisma and commitment to transparency have driven reforms, including increased gender diversity in advisory councils. Koike advocates for women’s empowerment and challenges gender bias through initiatives like encouraging men to take active roles in childcare. As Tokyo’s first female governor, she strives to create a more inclusive and diverse society, aiming to break the glass ceiling for women in Japan.

Taiwan: Tsai Ing-wen’s Advocacy for Sovereignty and Equality

Across the waters in Taiwan, we have Tsai Ing-wen, a staunch advocate for Taiwan’s sovereignty and democracy. Her leadership has not only bolstered Taiwan’s global standing but also advanced gender equality and LGBTQ+ rights.

Europe – Shaping the Continent’s Future

Now, let’s hop over to Europe, where we find some incredible women leaders who’ve left their mark. Angela Merkel, the former Chancellor of Germany, held office for a remarkable 16 years. Her leadership was defined by fiscal responsibility, environmental protection, and a compassionate approach to the refugee crisis. In the United Kingdom, Theresa May served as Prime Minister from 2016 to 2019, becoming the second woman to hold that position.

Sweden’s Elisabeth Svantesson, the Minister for Finance, is another prominent female leader focusing on economic stability and social welfare. Her policies are making a difference. Erna Solberg’s leadership in Norway emphasized education, environmental protection, and humanitarian efforts. She played a crucial role in achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and addressing global challenges like climate change.

Sanna Marin, Finland’s former Prime Minister, made headlines as one of the world’s youngest heads of government. Her progressive policies include experimenting with a four-day workweek and striving for gender-balanced cabinets and ambitious climate goals. She didn’t mince words when asked how to end the Russia-Ukraine conflict. She was in Prague for a meeting of EU nations and firmly stated, “The way out of the conflict is for Russia to leave Ukraine.” This direct response went viral, with Ukrainians applauding her stance.

North America: Breaking Barriers

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Heading across the Atlantic, we land in North America, where women are breaking barriers. In the United States, Kamala Harris made history in 2021 as the first female Vice President and the highest-ranking female official in U.S. history. Her presence in the White House is already making a big impact, especially in promoting diversity and women’s rights.

Canada has had its share of prominent female leaders. Kim Campbell was the country’s first and only female Prime Minister in 1993. More recently, Chrystia Freeland has held key roles in the Canadian government, including Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. But before she entered politics, Freeland was a renowned journalist, editor, and author. She covered some of the most significant events and trends of the 21st century, such as the fall of communism, the rise of the super-rich, and the globalization of trade.

Latin America: Advocating for Change

In Latin America, we find women leaders who’ve been at the forefront of change. Michelle Bachelet, the former President of Chile, served two non-consecutive terms and later became the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. She’s known for her advocacy for gender equality and human rights.

Claudia Sheinbaum, the former Mayor of Mexico City, made strides in urban planning and sustainability. Her work has improved the city’s infrastructure, public transportation, and environmental policies.

And then there’s Olga Sánchez Cordero, Mexico’s former Secretary of the Interior, who held one of the highest-ranking positions in the Mexican government. She oversaw domestic policy, national security, and human rights, highlighting the significance of women’s leadership in addressing complex challenges.

New Zealand: Jacinda Ardern’s Empathetic Approach

Heading to New Zealand, we find Jacinda Ardern, a leader known for her empathetic and inclusive approach. Her effective handling of crises like the Christchurch mosque shootings and the COVID-19 pandemic has garnered international praise. Ardern’s focus on well-being and kindness as policy priorities is making waves globally. She once said, “You do not have to have a personal ambition to be a leader. You do not have to be the loudest person in the room. You can believe in consensus more than you believe in conflict. You can be human. You can feel and show emotion.”

India: The Women’s Reservation Bill and Empowering Female Leadership

In India, we’re witnessing significant progress in women’s participation in governance. The Women’s Reservation Bill, a groundbreaking piece of legislation, aims to reserve 33% of seats in the Lok Sabha (India’s lower house of parliament) for women. This move seeks to address historical underrepresentation and empower women to take on national leadership roles.

Image credit: oneworldnews.com

Key highlights of the Women’s Reservation Bill include:

33% Reservation: The bill proposes to reserve one-third (33%) of Lok Sabha seats for women on a rotational basis.

Impact on Political Landscape: If passed and implemented, the bill would significantly increase women’s presence in India’s political sphere.

Empowering Women: The bill aims to empower women from diverse backgrounds, including rural and marginalized communities.

Promoting Gender Equality: Its core principle is promoting gender equality in political representation.

While the bill has faced challenges, its potential to bring about transformative changes in governance and policymaking is significant.

Women’s Presence in Indian Governance

India, a land with a remarkable history of women leaders, still sees women actively taking part in politics across different parties. Draupadi Murmu making history as the 15th President of India is a huge step forward for women in Indian politics. Her presidency truly reflects India’s dedication to diversity and inclusivity in the highest political office.

We’ve got Nirmala Sitharaman serving as the Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs in the current government. She’s a standout among women leaders, playing a pivotal role in shaping India’s economic policies, and her contributions are widely recognized.

Then there’s Sonia Gandhi, the former President of the Indian National Congress. Even though she’s stepped down from that position, her influence within the party remains substantial.

Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, is another powerhouse in Indian politics. Her recent electoral victory in West Bengal only solidifies her standing.

Don’t forget Mayawati, the former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, who continues to be a significant figure. Her leadership embodies a commitment to social justice and empowerment.

Last but certainly not least, Brinda Karat, is a prominent leader who’s been a crucial advocate for women’s rights and social justice.

These leaders, hailing from different political parties, paint a vivid picture of the diverse and dynamic role of women in Indian politics. They’re shaping policies, championing women’s rights, and playing vital roles in their respective parties and states. While this isn’t an exhaustive list, it certainly shines a light on the ongoing presence and impact of women in India’s political landscape.

The 2023 G20 Summit: Women Leaders at the Global Stage

The year 2023 marked a historic moment with the 2023 G20 Summit, where women leaders played a pivotal role in addressing global challenges. We’ll introduce you to figures like Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, and Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Ursula von der Leyen, as a key representative of the European Union, played a crucial role in discussions related to climate change, economic recovery, and international cooperation. Her leadership highlighted the European Union’s commitment to addressing global challenges through collaborative efforts. Kristalina Georgieva brought her expertise to the summit’s discussions on economic stability and recovery. Georgieva’s leadership at the IMF has been instrumental in guiding global economic policies during uncertain times.

Celebrating Women’s Leadership and Looking Forward

As we celebrate these remarkable women leaders who’ve shattered glass ceilings and driven change worldwide, we’re reminded of the progress toward gender equality. Women’s participation in governance isn’t just about representation; it’s a catalyst for global change. As societies continue to evolve and embrace diversity and equality, women’s roles in governance are set to grow, enriching the global political landscape.

Let’s salute these incredible women and support their efforts to create a brighter, more inclusive future for all. After all, the world is a better place when everyone has a seat at the table.

Our journey into the world of women in governance has shown us something extraordinary: things are changing. Women are taking on leadership roles all around the world, and they’re working hard to make things fairer and better for everyone.

Their stories of courage and determination are like guiding lights for the future. The impact of women in governance is not just about the decisions they make in fancy offices; it’s about making the world a fairer and more peaceful place.

As we wrap up our exploration, let’s remember that this isn’t the end of the story. It’s an ongoing adventure, with more and more women showing us what leadership really means. The future is looking brighter because of them, and it’s up to all of us to keep this progress going, so that one day, it won’t matter if you’re a man or a woman – what will matter is your ability to lead, and make the world a better place.

Editorial Board

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