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Female Political Leaders like Hillary Clinton Still Extremely Rare

Hillary Clinton at the United Nations, March 2015. Credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider.

UNITED NATIONS, Sep 5 2016 (IPS) - Despite their prominence on the world stage, female political leaders like Hillary Clinton and Angela Merkel are part of a tiny minority of women who have risen to the top of politics.

Women “who achieve the highest office are highly visible and extremely impressive (but) they’re still extremely rare,” Anne Marie Goetz, Professor at the Center for Global Affairs at New York University told IPS.

The recent impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Roussef has bought the number of female heads of state and government globally back down to just 16 in the world’s almost 200 countries.

That number may go back up again in 2017, should Hillary Clinton be elected as the 45th President of the United States.

“Any woman who reaches these positions has tried harder and been judged more harshly than any man,” -- Anne Marie Goetz

Other prominent female political leaders include Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia and Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom yet overall the world is still a long way off achieving gender balance in politics, a target which UN member states agreed to in 1995.

“Five percent women heads of government, seven percent women heads of state, 22 percent women in parliament – this is far too few,” Gabriella Borovsky, Political Participation Policy Specialist at UN Women told IPS.

“At the current rate it will take about another 50 years to achieve gender balance in parliaments.”

Even those female leaders who do rise to the top of politics continue to face significant challenges.

“Any woman who reaches these positions has tried harder and been judged more harshly than any man,” said Goetz, giving the example of Australia’s former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who she says was subjected to “quite shocking sexist interpretations.”

“It wasn’t about her ideology, it was about her gender, and I fear that this is going to happen to Hillary Clinton as well, and that it’s happening now.”

While the UN advocates for its members to seek gender equality in politics, another position that has yet to be held by a woman is the role of UN Secretary-General.

For the first time ever, several female candidates are in consideration to replace currently Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the beginning of 2017.

“The prospect of a female feminist UN Secretary-General and female feminist United States President is inspiring and exciting beyond belief,” said Goetz.

However, although the female candidates are considered highly qualified, informal straw polls have indicated that the 15-member UN Security Council is likely to select a male candidate.

“We are disappointed that women are not doing better,” Jean Krasno, Chair of the Campaign to elect a Woman UN Secretary-General told IPS.

However the results are perhaps unsurprising given that only one of the fifteen Security Council ambassadors is a woman, said Krasno.

“(The council) is still entrenched in this really old boys club … and we hope that in the 21st century we’re moving away from that,” she said.

Despite the poor straw poll results, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women has reiterated the importance of a female Secretary-General describing it as an opportunity for the UN to lead by example and “make this moment count for gender equality.”

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  • stevor

    Here’s hillary’s record:
    FIRED from Watergate committee for incompetence
    over 50 people who “got in the way of the Clintons” have experience “mysterious deaths”.
    Many people lost their homes because of the clinton “whitewater”
    A good person was fired to be replaced by a buddy in “travelgate”.
    She insisted that it was a movie that caused the Benghazi deaths.
    She is a perennial liar as when she told about “landing under fire” at that airport.
    She is totally incompetent when it comes to national security, using a private server that was hacked, losing 13 devices (such as phones/ipads), and lying about it.
    The clintons took in millions of dollars “for haiti” and kept 90% of the money.
    The clinton foundation got $30 million from Russia for our uranium.
    The clintons (who told how poor they were upon leaving the white house, with $20,000 worth of stuff that they had to give back) are now worth $300 million and it wasn’t for real work but selling out the USA.
    Etc. etc.

    On the other hand, the Germans HATE MERKEL because she sold out Germany to the muslims.

  • Luis Gutierrez

    Your misogyny shows. What about Nixon and Hitler?

  • stevor

    nixon and hitler aren’t running.
    Are you defending shillary? Will you vote for her despite all this?

  • Luis Gutierrez

    Absolutely, I plan to vote for Hillary. She is not perfect, but Trump brings to mind people like Nixon, Hitler, Stalin, Castro, and many other egomaniac patriarchs who have ruled the world for far too long… and he wants to be president of the USA!

  • stevor

    “she’s not perfect”? Duh, I posted a list of what says that.

    I CHALLENGE you to name ONE real presidential accomplishment by her. JUST ONE (when I asked the folks at the democrat booth at the state fair, they couldn’t come up with one and whenever I ask others, nobody else can come up with one, either)

  • Luis Gutierrez

    She engendered OBAMACARE, didn’t she? She has served in many capacities for 20+ years, and has been tested in the fire of humiliation.

    On the other hand, what presidential accomplishment can you list for Mr. Trump, a self-serving demagogue who has NEVER held elective office?

  • stevor

    o’bamacare is a FAILURE. Many state health plans are BANKRUPT. Only DOING BAD for 20 years doesn’t make somebody good.
    Trump has SUCCEEDED in business. It’s about time we have somebody who has NEVER worked outside of government.
    So, as I said, NOBODY can find anything worthy by her to be President. You proved my point.
    Not that it matters now, but I presume you voted for o’bama. I wonder what Presidential things you think he did to deserve that. (junior senator was only there for a bit over a year and who was NOT a professor, as is believed, but just a speaker).
    Look up Saul Alinsky, the mentor of o’bama and hillary is a search with “Lucifer” and you’ll see how Alinsky was a disciple of Lucifer and took both hillary and o’bama down that path.

  • Luis Gutierrez

    Well, we shall see what happens if Hillary is elected, and we shall see what happens if Trump is elected. All things considered, I think Hillary is a better choice to deal with the complexities of the nation and the world. Trump is basically advocating to resolve issues by brute force. That may work in business, but not in politics, either nationally or internationally.

  • stevor

    thank you for a kind of fun exchange of ideas. Too often I meet trolls online who can’t reply intelligently and resort to name calling.
    I didn’t mention it, but I think that BOTH parties are corrupt, they being two cheeks on the same butt. That’s another reason I’m for Trump, because neither party likes him, which is a good thing to me.

  • HopScot

    You are one hideous old phaggot.
    I bet you’ve been HIV-poz for 50 years.

  • Luis Gutierrez

    I am OK. Are you OK? Who are you? Do you have a real name?