The advent of the novel Coronavirus can be identified as the most lethal and alarming development of this year. As the entire globe continues to battle the pandemic, the number of people getting infected continues to soar, while the death toll has also gone on to rise.
The unprecedented times have definitely exposed us to many unprecedented situations and have also compelled us to perform many unprecedented actions and activities. Governments and political leaders across the world have shown varied responses and attitudes towards the COVID-19 crisis, thereby either efficiently handling or grossly manhandling the same.
According to several reliable reports, published by international organizations like the Center for Economic Policy Research, the World Economic Forum, and Forbes, the countries that have best battled the novel Coronavirus pandemic include New Zealand, Norway, Taiwan, Finland, Germany, Iceland Denmark, Vietnam, Singapore, and Senegal. Eight out of the ten aforementioned nations share one characteristic in common: the presence of agile women leaders.
Basically, what can be understood is that the women leaders across the boundaries went on to keenly demarcate the fault lines of the crisis at the earliest and then went on to address the concerns about the same.
The robust and strategically planned measures adopted by the female leadership have been unlike that of the ‘male’ leadership so far, I feel. Their literal approach could be best summed up through ‘3Cs’, i.e. communication, compassion, and clarity. When a comparative analysis is conducted under these 3 primary Cs, we encounter the fact that whilst extreme right-wing nations led by male leaders were preoccupied with presenting preachy soliloquies and spreading conspicuous misinformation, the female leaders were truly acting in a decisive and foresighted manner.
The female leadership was taking into account the fact that they belonged ‘with’ the common people. Initiatives like the imposition of stricter preemptive lockdowns, stringent travel bans via all means, early testing at a rampant scale, and more helped them act proactively to keep the number of deaths and suffering half as much as compared to those nations led by men.
Further, these troubled times haven’t seemingly damaged the system, but they have only exposed the cracks and crevices of a system filled with immense structural damages in which the whole of humanity has been unknowingly living in. The current world order is undergoing a range of modifications, as there is no presence of a sole hegemonic power (like that of the USA) on the forefront to exercise its will.
There isn’t the bi-factional USA or USSR-like clout either that would hold the issues of world importance at their disposition. Rather, this is an epoch of multiculturalism complimenting inclusive and holistic growth and co-operation that catalyzes meaningful partnerships and promotes the greater good. This era of multiculturalism also can (or say has been since a while) acting as a conducive niche for more women to enter and reclaim the spheres of mainstream politics. The role of women gaining momentum in these testing times has delivered really rewarding results. And hence, I feel that the participation of women in mainstream politics should be encouraged.
India can be said to be the missing piece of the puzzle in the context of female leadership, as the picture of women indulging in politics is not very pleasing. I feel that women leaders are used more for the pursuits of tokenism and symbolism, which ensures both the easy manipulation of decision-making and a secure vote bank for the male leadership. I strongly feel that Indira Gandhi too was brought in as the first woman prime minister because the then-senior Congress leaders had vested interests. But once Indira Gandhi assumed the helm of power she turned the tables on them. However, the concern today is not about favouring any particular side of leadership, because ‘leadership stands beyond the binaries of masculinity and femininity’. It promises a presence of balance between rationality and emotionality.
Quite evidently and undeniably, countries led by women in the time of crisis (such as this) have fared fairly well. But the latent fact is that these countries didn’t fare well just because they had a female leader on the ground, but it was also because an engaging and healthy co-operation was provided by the men, who formed a part of the same leadership forte. So, I feel that the foremost way to ensure empowerment and emancipation of womankind in the field leadership is to make sure a presence of conducive environment layered by trust, co-operation, and equal engagement offered by the menfolk.
Melinda Gates said, “If you want to lift up humanity, empower women. It is the most comprehensive, pervasive, high leverage investment you can make as human beings.” This holds true in both letter and spirit because empowering women equates to empowering humanity. I believe the most effective way to do so is to ensure that women spearhead, visibly and literally, the foregrounds in the forte of leadership.
Some specific ways to improve the status quo of women in leadership include the spheres of education, dismantling structural stereotypes, defying of odds and ordeals, and greater reclamation of public spheres by women. To work towards an empowered and tangible tomorrow, the best way forward is to harbour more and more women in the core and convention of political leadership.