Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Woman Factor

Category: News Winners, Issue 2

The past 12 months really made the world sit up when these women came to the front. Who will have the hardest task?

Will it be the woman of “slave-country”, Liberia?  Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf: Mother and grandmother.  First Woman President of Liberia and the first in Africa, the daughter of descendants of the original Afro-American colonists who on their part enslaved the indigenous population.  After many dictatorial leaders, and a stint in jail for supposed treason and having to live in exile several times in her life, she has a tremendous task and will really have to start from scratch, addressing social inequalities and building infra-structure for the poverty-stricken population – schools, hospitals, roads, etc. Her Harvard degree in Public Administration and her experience as a high profile economist in the World Bank will stand her in good stead.

Then there is Andrea Merkel, first Woman Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, brilliant scientist, working in quantum chemistry before becoming a politician. Her upbringing in the “Stasi” ruled GDR (East Germany) trained her in playing her cards close to her chest. Being the protégée of Chancellor Kohl and one of the youngest Ministers, heading the Ministry for Women and Youth and then becoming Minister for Environment and Reactor Safety prepared “the Mädchen”, as Chancellor Kohl named her, for her political career. She speaks English and Russian fluently. Though whether that will help her to bring about the much debated social reform is questionable. She will have a difficult task implementing her ideas, as her party does not have a real majority.

Will Michele Bachelet(mother of three) of Chile win in the run-off election on January 15, 2006?  Should she win, she will be the first Female President of Chile. Bachelet speaks six languages – Spanish, English, Portuguese, German, French and Russian Her youth was marred by political unrest; her father being detained and tortured until he died of a heart attack. She herself and her mother were tortured at the notorious detention centre “Villa Grimaldi”. They were exiled to Australia and then moved on to East Germany, where she continued her medical studies. She furthered her studies in Chile and became a surgeon and later specialized in pediatrics and public health. During this time she returned to politics, fighting for democracy and working in many NGO’s who work in aid of children. Bachelet’s interest in civil-military relations led her to further her studies in the USA. Bachelet became the first Minister of Defence of Chile and of the entire South America. Should she win, she has promised to make half her cabinet consist of women, saying: “We are going to set a standard for Latin America”. This is a difficult nut to crack.

Each of these women has a tremendous task, but my wager goes to Johnson-Sirleaf, having to make something out of nothing.

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Old Comments

  • I wonder what is the task of a political leader?  This site:

    ...talks about ancient cultures which perceived the annual die-in-winter and resurrect-for-spring cycle as a spiritual indication that the current leader (sun/king) should be put down (killed, in many cases) and replaced / renewed.

    While men - well, male politicians - seem to have little problem with imposing their views on others using brute force and violence (let’s call it ‘legislating’), women seem to be more into nurturing.

    Austrian Economics has taught me that the people’s acceptance of the use of brute force to collect resources (ie taxes) shifts motvation from the improvement of things (what else can I do to make people like and value me?) to the protection of them (sign this disclaimer) and aggression to get them (litigation, lobbying, deceit).  So I task leaders - especially female leaders since they seem to get the idea that honey works better than vinegar - with the dismantling of these accepted structures of brute force.

    My bet is on Merkel.  Her first task is to study enough on her own to realize that she is now part of a parasitic and cancerous beast which drags Germany’s economy down along with the rest of Europe and the world.  By then, she will have quit, I’m sure.  She got into office, I believe, under the impression that tax revenue should be large and that progress means making it larger.  Learning that the opposite is more accurate is likely an impossible task for her.

    Bachelet and Johnson-Sirleaf are or will be heading up countries with far less developed tax-collection schemes, and so the task of converting to voluntary support of the government, should they accept that task (doubtful), will be less difficult.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/31  at  07:06 PM
  • Thanks for the interesting web site.

    It is true that Germany, Western Europe and the USA may be slowly suffocating with the grip of the tax demon at their throats and all the rules and regulations that control every walk of life of their populace. Brute force, as you call it - not so much with AK 47’s but killing initiative, innovation and self-respect with their laws. The history teacher of my son put it aptly,when he said: Europe and the USA don’t realise it, but they live in the biggest prison on earth - a prison of their own making. 

    In Africa, however, the rule of law and tax is very much a matter of the gun. The little income the African countries have (compared to the Western World) is deposited into the private bank accounts of Switserland, is spent on weapons (guess who supplies these weapons!) and on the glorification of the leaders of the day in the form of palaces and hideous demonstrations of wealth and power while their people suffer tremendously. Corruption is a way of life in Africa.

    Guess there is not much to choose, is there?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/02  at  06:06 AM
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