Women are being elected presidents in different countries
“I wonder if anybody could imagine a female president in Chile some 20 years or 10 years ago, even 5 years ago,” said Chile's new president Michelle Bachelet shortly after being sworn in. It is worthy of note that Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was inaugurated also this week as a new president of Liberia. She became the first woman who became head of state in the history of Africa. Few analysts doubt that Tarja Halonen will win in a runoff of the presidential election in Finland.
Is the “female expansion” into big politics an accidental event or a trend? Has the role of women changed in the modern world? Below are the opinions of Russian experts - Sergei Markov, Denis Dragunsky and Boris Makarenko.
Sergei Markov, the Director of the Institute of Political Studies:
It is a trend, and the role of women has changed. Women have been coming into politics for a long time now. It is a three-stage journey. The first stage was completed after women got the right to vote. The destruction of a patriarchal family marked the second stage. As a result, women started to cast their votes in accordance with their views, not as they were told by their husbands. The third stage drew to a close as women were elected to parliaments and appointed to governments. Now we see a new stage taking shape – women are being elected presidents in different countries.
All of the above make part of a long process of emancipation of women. The process is far from over.
Aside from emancipation, there is yet another trend. I expect a much higher percentage of women to play an important role in politics. Woman will dominate politics one of these days.
All and all, women are becoming a more important force all over the world.
The importance of a physical force is gradually decreasing. A rational analysis that is a characteristic of the male seems less important these days than intuition, a female quality. A person of the past was supposed to concentrate on one important business (suitable for men). Nowadays it is essential that a person be able to keep several projects going. Making decisions on a 'friend or foe' basis was an important requirement of the past. Today you should carefully build interpersonal relations in order to succeed.
I am not talking about politics only. The role of women in managing various institutions can only grow bigger.
Fortunately, my world will still be the men's world, anyway. We do not know how the women's world will look like. There are a few good things with regard to a female way of management e.g. a propensity for making compromises. However, there are other characteristics that do not look so placid. Take a look at commercials targeting female consumers. A new trend shows aggressiveness as an embodiment of the modern woman.
However, thus far the majority of female politicians, the so-called 'iron ladies, have displayed men's qualities.' I believe soon those ladies will be replaced by female politicians that will do men's job in a female way. Yulia Tymoshenko is one of the most flagrant examples.
Denis Dragunsky, scientific leader of the research institute “Public Agreement”:
It is a trend, and a very good one. The role of women in politics has changed. It has become more important. It does not apply exclusively to the feminist movements that brought about radical changes in politics in 20th and 21st centuries. This is the only way of the development of democracy for it can be assessed by a degree of participation of various strata of citizens in the democratic processes. The analysis implies using a range of principles from racial to property to age and gender.
Many women are still aware of this side of life. However, taking part in the decision-making is getting natural for women.
Taking into account that a woman has won the presidential race in Chile, the significance is even higher. Latin America's equatorial machismo is the other side of adulation for the woman. Chile has always looked like a variety of Latin American Prussia. Too much masculinity wearing military uniform at all times. The emergence of a female president in such a militarist country as Chile is a lot more important than electing a female president in Venezuela.
Boris Makarenko, deputy director of the Center of Political Technologies:
It is a coincidence as well as a trend. Women in the top executive positions are hardly a news item in Europe or anywhere else. Let us recall India and Israel headed by women in the 20th century. The real news is that women assumed top executive positions within a week in different parts of the world.
The process of emancipation goes on, it is a universal trend. But an emancipation rate differs in different countries. Scandinavian countries have the highest rate. I would say that the process of complete erasure of gender barriers has been virtually completed. It is unsurprising to see women becoming presidents in Finland and Norway.
Emancipation has made considerable progress in most countries. It resulted in creating conditions for the election of women. At the same time, a complete social equality still belongs to the future. A number of reasons normally lie behind the election of a woman to the position of a chief of state. A charismatic personality e.g. Margaret Thatcher has good chances of being elected. A strong woman will predictably go to the top if she happens to be a daughter, widow and relative of a popular male politician. All female presidents in India were elected because of the above factor. Indira Ghandi was the only exception. Despite being related to a popular political leader, she became a prominent politician herself.
By the way, Michelle Bachelet is a daughter of a well-known army general who was arrested and tortured to death during the rule of General Pinochet.
A political crisis at times creates conditions for a female politician to take power. The election of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is one of the examples.
So equality is far from being complete.
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