Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Of women and politics

There's been a lot of hoopla recently regarding the Obama/Clinton thing. There was even some talk about how some how would vote for her simply because she is a woman (c.f. Rachel's post here) - which, feminist though I am, is probably the most idiotic thing I've heard in a long time - or because she had already been in the White House, which doesn't mean (at least to me) that she is the better person for the job.

This however is not the point of my post. However, it got me thinking of women heads of state.

Have you ever noticed that a lot of the countries who have had female heads of state are not known for their progressive view of women? For instance right now women are governing Chile, Mozambique, Liberia, the Philippines and Bangladesh, to name a few.

And when you look at past heads of state, these countries, again, are over represented when compared to the G8 for instance.

In North America? Kim Campbell in Canada for about 3.5 minutes.

I can't help but find it ironic how North Americans claim they are for women's equality, but in fact, we are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyy benhind the rest of the world on this particular aspect of the issue.

Is it because there are no competent female politicians in Canada and the US? Or at any rate many less than in Africa and South America for instance? I highly doubt it. It seems developing countries are simply much more open minded than we are in this regard.

Why is North America unwilling (or unable) to elect a female Prime Minister in Canada or President in the US? What do you think?

(This list is something I got off the internet, there might be errors in it, isn't there a woman also in Argentina?)

Present female heads of state:

· Mary McAleese, President of Ireland (1997- )
· Vaira Vike-Freiberga, President of Latvia (1999- )
· Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand (1999- )
· Tarja K. Halonen, President of Finland (2000- )
· Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Philippines (2001- )
· Khaleda Zia, Prime Minister of Bangladesh (1991-1996, 2001- )
· Luisa Diogo, Prime Minister of Mozambique (2004- )
· Maria do Carmo Silveira, Prime Minister of Sao Tome and Principe (2005- )
· Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany (2005- )
· Michelle Bachelet, President of Chile (2006- )
· Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia (2006- )
· Portia Simpson-Miller, Prime Minister of Jamaica (2006- )

Previous women heads of state or government:


· Elisabeth Domitien, Prime Minister of Central African Empire (1975-1976)
· Agathe Uwilingiyimana, Prime Minister of Rwanda (1993)
· Silvie Kinigi, Interim President of Burundi (1993-1994)
· Ruth Perry, Chairman of State Council, Liberia (1996-1997)
· Madior Boye, Prime Minister of Senegal (2001-2002)
· Maria das Neves, Prime Minister of Sao Tome & Principe (2002-2004)


· Isabel Peron, President of Argentina (1974-1976)
· Lucinda da Costa Gomez-Mattheeuws, Prime Minister of Netherlands Antilles (1977)
· Lidia Gueilier, Caretaker President of Bolivia (1979-1980)
· Eugenia Charles, Prime Minister of Dominica (1980-1995)
· Maria Liberia Peters, Prime Minister of the Netherlands Antilles (1984-1986, 1988-1994)
· Ertha Pascal-Trullot, Acting President of Haiti (1990-1991)
· Violeta de Chamorro, President of Nicaragua (1990-1996)
· Kim Campbell, Prime Minister of Canada (1993)
· Claudette Werleigh, Prime Minister of Haiti (1995-1996)
· Rosalia Arteaga, Caretaker President of Ecuador (1997)
· Pamela Gordon, Premier of Bermuda (1997-1998)
· Janet Jagan, President of Guyana (1997-1999)
· Suzanne Romer, Prime Minister of Netherlands Antilles (1993, 1998-1999)
· Jennifer Smith, Premier of Bermuda (1998-2003)
· Mireya Moscoso, President of Panama (1999-2004)
· Beatriz Merino, Prime Minister of Peru (2003)


· Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka (1960-1965, 1970-1977, 1994-2000)
· Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India (1966-77, 1980-1984)
· Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel (1969-1974)
· Corazon Aquino, President of Philippines (1986-1992)
· Benazir Bhutto, Prime Minister of Pakistan (1988-1990, 1993-1996)
· Khaleda Zia, Prime Minister of Bangladesh (1991-1996, 2001-)
· Tansu Ciller, Prime Minister of Turkey (1993-1996)
· Chandrika Kumaratunga, President of Sri Lanka (1994-2005)
· Sheikh Hasina Wajed, Prime Minister of Bangladesh (1996-2001)
· Jenny Shipley, Prime Minister of New Zealand (1997-1999)
· Nyam-Osoriyn Tuyaa, Interim Prime Minister of Mongolia (1999)
· Megawati Sukarnoputri, President of Indonesia (2001-2004)
· Chang Sang, Acting Prime Minister of South Korea (2002)


· Maria de Lourdes Pintassilgo, Prime Minister of Portugal (1979-1980)
· Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of Great Britain (1979-1990)
· Vigdis Finnbogadottir, President of Iceland (1980-1996)
· Gro Harlem Brundtland, Prime Minister of Norway (1981, 1986-1989, 1990-1996)
· Maria Pedini-Angelini, Captain-Regent of San Marino (1981)
· Milka Planinc, Prime Minister of Yugoslavia (1982-1986)
· Agatha Barbara, President of Malta (1982-1987)
· Gloriana Rannocchini, Captain-Regent of San Marino (1984, 1989-1990)
· Kazimira Prunskiene, Prime Minister of Lithuania (1990-1991)
· Sabine Bergmann-Pohl, State President of German Democratic Republic (1990)
· Mary Robinson, President of Ireland (1990-1997)
· Edda Ceccoli, Captain-Regent of San Marino (1991-1992)
· Edith Cresson, Prime Minister of France (1991-1992)
· Hanna Suchocka, Prime Minister of Poland (1992-1993)
· Patricia Busigani, Captain-Regent of San Marino (1993)
· Marita Petersen, Prime Minister of Faroe Islands (1993-1994)
· Renata Indzhova, Interim Prime Minister of Bulgaria (1994-1995)
· Biljana Plavsic, President of Republika Srpska (Bosnia-Hercegovina) (1996-1998)
· Ruth Dreifuss, President of Switzerland (1998-1999)
· Rosa Zafferani, Captain-Regent of San Marino (1999)
· Irena Degutiene, Acting Prime Minister of Lithuania (1999)
· Mireya Moscoso, President of Panama (1999-2003)
· Maria Domenica Michelotti, Captain-Regent of San Marino (2000)
· Natasa Micic, Acting President of Serbia (2002-2003)
· Annelli Jaatteenmaaki, Prime Minister of Finland (2003)
· Nino Burzhanadze, Acting President of Georgia (2003)
· Yulia Timoshenko, Prime Minister of Ukraine (2005)


Urban Animal said...

Great post! *applause*

Like many people in Canada I found it very sad that this Obama/Clinton race (if you can call it that) was made about race/gender, at least in the media. And you're so right, it's amazing that countries who proclaim to believe in the power of women continuously shut them down politically. And the excuse most often used is that the "general population doesn't view them as leaders" which is such bullshit.

We have a long way to go. I hope it changes by the time the next generation is ready to take over, but I'm not sure.

Rachel said...

ive been wondering this for the longest time and still haven't come up with a satisfactory explanation. My best guess is that has to do with Anglo Victorianism, where it became widespread belief that a woman's place is in the home with the family.

Rachel said...

erk, posted before I was finished!

as I was saying...

I think that female leadership is rare in countries that have had a strong British occupation during Victorian and pre-Victorian times.

okay, done.

Big Brother said...

Yep all those women and it was pretty much the same old as their male counter parts. Lets face it, climbing to the top takes a certain ruthlessness that is pretty much the same, be it male or female, so it negates any nurturing qualities the female leader might have. I'm sure that Maggie Thatcher didn't have a nurturing bone in her body. ;o)

Josie said...

Misogyny lives. Hillary Clinton was called the "b" word and the "c" word many times during her campaign, by both men and women, and no one raised an eyebrow. Can you imagine if anyone had called Barack Obama the "n" word? There would have been hell to pay.

Women are still second class citizens in much of the world, including North America.

Jazz said...

UA - Yes it was a shame that the media made the Obama/Clinton race into a gender/race thing - it should have been about the best person for the job, period. At the same time, I guess since it was a first, it is understandable.

Rachel - Good theory. Though the British did have Thatcher and now Ireland has McAsslee as President. Maybe it's us colonies...

BB - I don't dispute that to get to that point takes ruthlessness. And I really don't think that if women ruled the world we'd be frolicking in gardens all day. I don't believe women are better than men, simply different, and every bit as ruthless when it comes to pissing contests. Granted women heeds of state might be more prone to familiy friendly measures, but all in all, we wouldn't do a better job than men.

So why don't we get the chance to fuck it up too?

Josie - Women are indeed second class citizens in lots of the world. So my question is, why are they heading countries where they are way more second class than we are in North America, and it's not happening here?

Patience said...

Yes, it is stupid to vote for any candidate simply because they are (or aren't!) female, male, black, white, etc.

But I'm afraid that is being done here.

Ian Lidster said...

Hillary didn't lose because she was a woman, but because she was Hillary. Not so many people in the Democratic Party wanted 'Bill Revisited', or the Nightmare Continues.
Personally, speaking of Kim Campbell, and considering the execrable men who have followed her, she comes up smelling like roses. She was never given half a chance.
Otherwise, I utterly agree with your sentiments, which may come as no surprise to you.

Jazz said...

Patience - I'm sure if we had anything else than old white men, we'd do the same.

Ian - Kim was never given half a chance which is probably exactly why she comes up smelling like roses. As for us being in agreement,it's because I'm your evil twin no doubt.

VioletSky said...

Looked up Argentina for you: President is Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner

Very good!

And in some, especially Pacific nations, the wife (or daughter) takes over when the male leader dies.

So, yes, I agree, Hillary loses out for being Hillary over being a woman. And I hate it when the media comes out with "is America ready for a black president?" Why the hell not??

Jazz said...

Violet - Why not? Because a lot of people are morons probably...

citizen of the world said...

I was torn between Obama and Clinotn. Not for racial or gender reasons. I thought both had soem very good qualities. And for me, there was no issue of having another Clinotn - I thought Bill was an excellent president, giving us two terms of relative peace and prosperity.

Hageltoast said...

oh, you changed your template. See I do notice. :) smoochies

choochoo said...

I don't get to vote for any of'em. Might be just as well. And nobody gets to vote for me, which is just a crying shame.

XUP said...

Like any great conspiracy theorist, I have a theory about this Clinton/Obama thing, too. I believe the Republicans worked behind the scenes to sabotage Hilary’s chances at the presidency because they wanted Obama to win because they believe he doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of ever becoming president while Hilary did. So now it’s clear sailing for McCain to swan dive into the position. It’s really the only thing that makes sense. As for our general lack of women heads of state, we also have far less women in politics, period. Maybe women in North America are too complacent, while women in developing countries and European countries still have something to prove.

Suzan Buckner said...

I personally think America NEEDS a woman president, and I love Hillary for the job..of course--I would settle for ANYONE (including the GEICO lizard, or SpongeBob Square Pants)over the one we have now, or McCain.
Just MY two cents worth.

Dorky Dad said...

In 1984, Ronald Reagan won the female vote, even though Democrats had a woman running mate in Geraldine Ferraro. Odd? Sure. But most women are too smart to vote for a woman simply because she's a woman. (Then again, there really haven't been many choices.)

Jazz said...

Citizen - Well, the issue has been decided. Personally, all I want is the Republicans out of the White House - not that I have any say in that.

Toast - You do! You do!

Choo - It is indeed a shame. Maybe you should take over the world and hold sham elections so everyone could vote for you.

XUP - Something to prove. That makes sense...

Suzan - Damn! I totally missed yours. I'll put you back up. Meanwhile I'll do penance by becoming a raving christian fanatic.

DD - And even less choices here in Canada. Quebec has the first female head of a major political party I think, but that's about it.

J said...

I went into this campaign season not favoring Obama or Hillary, but willing to support either one (A.B.A.R. - anything but another republican).

Having watched their behavior and tactics through the past few months, I can say without a doubt Obama is my pick. I could go into details why, but it would fill a couple of pages.

The day is drawing near when a woman will become President. I just don't think Hillary is the right woman.

If we get another wavy haired old white rich male President, I think I'll scream for a few days.

Jocelyn said...

I'm pretty sure I'd vote for you, puddin'.

Jazz said...

J - I think you might have to spend a few days screaming... Hope they don't put you away.

Joce - Sorry, I just don't have the ruthlessness. I'm waaaaaaaay to easy going.