They’re More Women in Politics All Over The World Than Ever Before

Alina Sparks

This is apart of our Fall 2017 Issue focused on Diversity.

Women either in or vying for political positions of power face a multitude of obstacles in a world where men dominate the field of politics. Gender stereotypes prevail in today’s political atmosphere and serve as a basis for many when voting or nominating candidates  Appearing strong and capable is not enough, one must endure queries of plans for parenting, inquiries regarding domestic life, and a number of other factors that may define a woman’s job prospects. However, a selection of women have made their way to the top and hold prominent positions across the globe.

Though the barriers to women in politics have begun to break down, the fight is not over yet.

Amidst allegations of sexual abuse by Harvey Weinstein, a growing concern over the gender wage gap, and a general period during which women have repeatedly been placed under a microscope, the emergence of new and innovative women in politics is essential.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

Jacinda Ardern, 37, took over from Prime Minister Bill English on October 26, becoming New Zealand’s youngest prime minister in more than 150 years.  Ms. Ardern is described to defy the norm of traditional political figures in New Zealand and has restored power to the nation’s left wing. Focusing her campaign on issues such as poverty, climate change, and feminism, Ms. Ardern has proven tough and innovative in regards New Zealand and its political structure.  A recent interview with Mark Richardson, who after implying an employer should be encouraged to ask and make dcisions based upon an employee’s choices regarding parenthood and maternity, engendered a fierce defense on Ms. Ardern’s part for women in the workplace:

 “…totally unacceptable in 2017…It is a woman’s decision about when they choose to have children and it should not predetermine whether or not they are given a job or have job opportunities.”

In response to questions regarding Ms. Ardern’s stance and plans for climate change policy, New Zealand’s government released a statement offering “climate change refugee status” to certain people around the globe.

President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, elected in office since January 16 2006, is the current President of Liberia.  Joint winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, a Goodwill Ambassador for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in Africa, and chairman of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance, Ms. Sirleaf faces being usurped by Liberia’s vice-president and a Liberian ex-football player in the most recent election.

Ms. Sirleaf, though unsuccessful in inhibiting government corruption and piecing together Liberia’s health system, was triumphant in returning electricity and running water to much of the country. She built and established roads for a stable transportation system, and allowed ” a level of freedom to criticize her leadership that is seldom seen in other African countries,” according to the New York Times.

October 9 rallied a crowd of women who engaged in a peaceful rally, warning the men who were likely to take back their country, to keep the peace that Ms. Sirleaf sustained throughout Liberia in regards to disputes with other nations, for the length of her political term.

Chancellor Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel has been the Chancellor of Germany since 2005. Widely described as one of the most complex political figures, Mrs. Merkel is generally perceived to make decisions on an ethical basis- and result of her Lutheran faith- and in response to events as they arise rather than in a pragmatic manner. This is evidenced by Germany’s drastic act in late 2015 during which Mrs. Merkel opened the nation to a horde of refugees and migrants- an estimated 1000 asylum seekers by December of the year.

This very act revolutionized Mrs. Merkel’s career, proving to be the turning point from a political term proceeded with caution and lacking in drama, to one addressing global issues and making vast strides in altering the structure of the European Union. Though much controversy arose following Mrs. Merkel’s resolution regarding the benefits and effects this audacious act would have on Germany, the arrangement brought forth queries on how to improve Germany’s standard of living and led to numerous breakthroughs in Germany’s economy on Mrs. Merkel’s part.

Having recently been elected for a fourth term this September, Mrs. Merkel promises to make further strides in the development of Germany:

“I have the intention of achieving a stable government in Germany, and that has been a hallmark…” according to the New York Post. 

The three women are only a small selection of the prominent female figures who have managed to break down barriers of gender stereotypes and make strides of progress in the development of the nations they lead. Yet obstacles such as the gender wage gap, sexual harrasment and domestic violence, etc. endure. There is so much more to accomplish. In the words of Angel Merkel,

“When it comes to human dignity, we cannot make compromises.”

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