Written by Hannah Mestermann- Year 12 - Editor-in-chief and Co-Founder of KCDSpeaks
The fight for equality and female representation in politics, parliament, and public life has been a long-lasting battle sustained by suffragettes, modern-day feminists, women and men. And whilst progress and advancements have been on the horizon; the stigma against women in politics is still prevalent.
Structural, socioeconomic, institutional, and cultural barriers remain obstacles in the efforts of achieving women justice. So as the voices of tomorrow- our obligation is to make sure we continue accelerating toward gender parity not only in politics- but across all platforms and landscapes.
A RUNDOWN OF FEMALE LEADERSHIP IN POLITICS:
Among the 32 ministers of the new Emirati government; 9 are women, making up 27% of the total ministers.
The participation of women in the UAE cabinet is amongst the highest in the world.
Women make up 66% of the public sector workforce-> 30% are in leadership roles and 15% are in technical/ academic roles
Occupying 234 positions, with 42 working abroad and seven being ambassadors of the UAE, women make up 30% of the diplomatic corps.
The UAE is one of the countries which achieved the greatest progress over the last 25 years; having 0.0% representation in government sectors in 1995; women have reached 50% representation in 2020.
Women make up less than 23% of parliamentarians- as opposed to their male counterparts making up 77%. Which shows more than a 50% gender gap.
Eleven women are currently serving and Head of State and twelve women are serving as their Head of Government.
Globally, there are 27 states in which women account for less than 10% of parliamentarians in single and lower Houses, including three chambers with no women at all.
Only three countries have 50% or more female representatives active in parliament: Rwanda- with the highest female rates of 61.3%, Cuba with 53.2% and Bolivia with 53.1%.
Single & lower House representation across Regions:
Nordic Countries: 42.5%
Europe (excluding Nordic countries): 27.2%
Sub- Saharan Africa: 23.9%
Arab States: 19%
Combatting all odds; here are some of the most influential women in politics leading our world today:
Born July 17th 1954 (66) Angela Merkel became the first female Chancellor of Germany in 2005- at just 51 years of age; also making her the youngest person to date to hold office. She represents the Party of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and is currently serving her fourth- and last term in office as she has announced that she would not seek another term as Chancellor in 2021.
Merkel has a PhD in Physical Chemistry, which she earned for her thesis on Quantum Chemistry. Merkel has advocated for the resettlement of millions of people in Germany and has been the leader of Europe’s largest economy.
She has been named the second most powerful person in the world twice- and has held the spot as the world’s most powerful woman since 2006.
Oh- and she is fluent in Russian!
Born January 1st, 1956 (64) in Paris, Christine Lagarde is a French lawyer and politician.
Starting off by becoming the first woman to serve as chairman at one of the world’s largest and most prestigious law firms, ‘Baker & McKenzie’ in 1999; Lagarde has since worked her way to becoming the first woman to serve as France’s finance minister, (2007-11) Managing director of the International Monetary Fund (2011-19) - to be the first female president of the European Central Bank since November 2019. This has put her in charge of the European Monetary fund in a time of economic and geopolitical instability across the region.
Named as the second most powerful woman in 2019, they have also placed Christine Lagarde as the world’s twenty-second most powerful person.
As a teenager; she was a swimmer and a member of the French synchronised swimming team!
Born March 26, 1940 (80) - Nancy Pelosi is now seeking her third term as the 52nd Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States. They elected her as the first every woman into this position in 2007. She has also been the congresswomen of San Francisco, California for 31 years and has led the House of Democrats for sixteen.
In her career, she has advocated and is still fighting for the people; working to lower health care costs, increase workers' pay through strong economic growth and rebuild America.
Being considered the third most powerful woman in the world; Pelosi is the highest-ranking elected woman in the country and is second in line for presidency.
Ursula von der Leyen:
Born October 8th 1958 (61), Ursula von der Leyen is a Belgian born German Politician who has been serving as the first female President of the European Commission since December 2019. As a member of the centre-right Christian Democratic Union, she was previously the German Minister of Defence (2013-19). She is currently responsible for legislating over 700 million Europeans, alongside proposing new EU laws, enforcing the bloc’s rules and handling trade deals.
They voted her the fourth most powerful woman in the world last year.
Sheikh Hasina Wazed:
Sheikh Hasina Wazed, born September 28th 1947 (72) is currently serving her fourth term as the prime minister of Bangladesh- also making her the longest-serving PM the country had ever had.
As the leader of the Awami League Political Party, Wazed is an outspoken advocate for establishing a firm democracy in Bangladesh. Under her rule, she has focused on the issues prevailing food security and access to education and healthcare. She has also been praised for the economic growth under her tenure. Considered as one of the most powerful women in the world, she is also a member of the Council of Women World Leaders.
Born July 26th 1980- at 40 years old, Jacinda Ardern is one of the youngest female leaders in the world. Since 2017 she has been serving as the prime minister of New Zealand, representing the labour party. Advocating for the New Zealand Housing crisis, child poverty and social inequality; Arden led her country through some of its ‘darkest days’ after the March 2019 attack on a mosque in central Christchurch. She has since also called for changes in gun laws.
Arden has been praised for her remarkable response to the COVID- 19 pandemic in New Zealand.
She gave birth to her first child whilst in office in 2018. Alongside her political career; Jacinda is apparently quite the DJ!
Alexandria Ocasio- Cortes:
Born October 13th 1980 (30) Alexandria Ocasio- Cortes became the youngest member of the US congress in 2019. As a democratic socialist and congresswomen of the 14th district of New York- Bronx & Queens; Ocasio- Cortez has committed herself to combat the issues of the working class. Graduating with a degree in Economics and International Relations; she was a waitress and bartender just two years before starting her political career to support her family. She is one of the most followed members of congress; dedicating her platform to promote social, environmental, and women rights.
Born November 16th 1985; Sanna Marin became the youngest serving female head of government in the world- at just 34 years old. She became the Prime Minister of Finland in December 2019, representing the Social Democratic Party. She leads a coalition headed entirely by women. Marin started her political career in 2012 (27) when she became the head of administration in Tampere. She was elected as a member of Parliament for the SDP in 2015.
Growing up in a ‘rainbow family,’ Sanna Marin leads with a devotion to equality, tolerance and human rights.
Ilhan Omar was born October 4th 1982 (37) in Somalia. At eight years old, her family fled the country’s civil war and spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya before coming to the United States. She was sworn in to represent Minnesota’s 5th congressional district in the US House of Representatives in 2019. She is the first Somali- American member of Congress, as well as the first of two Muslim- American women elected into congress.
She is dedicated to investing in education, freeing students of their debts and creating a just immigration system.
Born February 1st 1976 (44), Katrin Jakobsdottir has been serving as the current prime minister of Iceland since 2017. After serving as the country’s Minister of Education, she has been chairman of the Left-Green Movement since 2013 and deputy chairman of the Left-Green Movement parliamentary group from 2007-13.
The women mentioned above are only some of many, incredible progressing leaders. They - among many others, are all proof that leadership has no gender. I don't know about you, but I’m looking forward to what the next generation of girls has in store!