Friday, March 25, 2011

Male v. Female: Female Leaders Don't Push Women's Rights

This interesting opinion piece from the NYTimes by Nicholas Kristof looks at historic and present day female leaders and notes that although these leaders are female, they do not push for more rights to women or increased female education -- in fact, some female leaders have been known to restrict some rights, such as in the Philippines: "female presidents (Corazon Aquino and Gloria Arroyo) who have curbed women’s access to family planning, and male presidents like Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada who have done much more for women’s reproductive health."
He discusses that when women are in power at a lower, more local level, change is more widely seen - water sanitation improves, girls' education levels go up, and the female work force increases. "So don’t lose faith – women do matter when they get in power. It’s just that, at least initially, they may matter most at the grassroots level (some studies suggest it is a question of critical mass: a female prime minister may be one of the very few women in the cabinet)."

Finally he concludes his piece with a note about girls education -- what he believes is the "most effective way to fight global poverty, to reduce civil conflict, even to reduce long-term carbon emissions".

Does this reflect on issues of gender discrimination and the present global view of such matters? Are issues of women's rights not being confronted because there are larger problems in the world or are they just being blatantly ignored? Do female leaders shy away from gender equality and discrimination issues because they fear losing their seat of power?

1 comment:

TJE said...

Ian, what are your thoughts?