Picture This: 51% of the World’s Leaders are Women

Top women leaders from around the world took to podiums at the United Nations to demand a greater global political role for women.  The picture at the left shows US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff.

“Despite notable progress, gender inequality persists,” Rousseff, who became Brazil’s first female president earlier this year, said at a high-level event held at the United Nations ahead of this week’s UN General Assembly.

“Women are still the ones who suffer the most from extreme poverty, illiteracy, poor healthcare systems, conflicts and sexual violence.”

Rousseff noted that today she would become the first woman in the history of the United Nations to open debate at the UN General Assembly.

“As someone who tried to be a president, it’s very encouraging to see those who actually ended up as a president,” Clinton joked at Monday’s event, in a reference to her unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2008.

The event–held on Monday–was sponsored by UN Women.

Women make up less than 10 percent of world leaders, and globally less than one in five members of Parliament is a woman, according to UN Women.

Increasing gender equality and putting more women in leadership roles will promote economic development, said Michelle Bachelet, the head of UN Women and a former president of Chile.

“We now have data to show that countries with greater gender equality have higher gross national product per capita and that women’s leadership in the corporate sector results in improved business performance,” she said.

The participation of women in this year’s wave of popular uprisings in the Middle East demonstrated that women are “determined to fight for democracy,” Bachelet added.

“The message is loud and clear: There is no turning back,” she said.

Other participants in the event included the European Union’s top foreign policy official, Catherine Ashton, and female officials and leaders from Africa, Asia and the Americas.

“Women’s political participation is fundamental to democracy and essential to the achievement of sustainable development and peace,” the attendees said in a joint declaration.

“We call upon all States, including those emerging from conflict or undergoing political transitions, to eliminate all discriminatory barriers faced by women.”

Also present at the meeting was Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar promised her countries a “gender neutral budget”.  She also shared her inspired personal story.

On a personal note, Persad-Bissessar shared with the audience her journey from a young girl to Prime Minister.
“I was 16 years old and I wanted to go to London to study and my uncle told my father, ‘Don’t send Kamla to England to study because she’s a girl, she has to get married and have children’… Let me say, I thank God for my mother, she insisted, and the rest is now history,” said Persad-Bissessar.

She noted she was this country’s first woman Attorney General, political leader, opposition leader and Prime Minister.

Persad-Bissessar spoke of her actions as Prime Minister towards the development of women, noting that she created a new Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development and also set a target of 40 per cent of women on State boards.

Her vision, she said, is one where women are transformational leaders comprising half the legislature, local government, State boards, private sector board rooms and all other spheres.

“A wise Chinese proverb states that ‘Women hold up half the sky’,” said Persad-Bissessar, which gained loud applause.

She said that it was “not okay” that so many women were suffering in the world.

She noted that 70 per cent of the world’s poor are women, that violence is perpetrated against women in homes, that young girls are victims of incest, sexual violence and bear the burden of teenage pregnancy and girls and women have the highest incidence of HIV/AIDS and bear the brunt of care.

Persad-Bissessar said change can be led though legislation, policies and programmes.

She proposed a global online mentorship programme targeted at young women leaders interested in a political career, who will engage with and learn from experienced women politicians.

Also speaking at the event, Clinton took note of Persad-Bissessar’s personal journey to leadership.

“Persad, when your uncle said no that young girls shouldn’t go to school and you said thank goodness for your mother, that’s a very familiar story, so parents need to recognise the values of their girls, invest in their futures, their education and then families, communities, societies need to do the same,” she said.

“There are stories like that that are percolating everywhere in the world and we have to do all we can to value the girl child, to provide support for families so they recognise and fulfil the promise of that young girl,” she said.

You can read more about UN Women and their efforts to improve the lives of women and girls around the world at their homepage.


10 Comments on “Picture This: 51% of the World’s Leaders are Women”

  1. foxyladi14 says:

    when will we get our turn? 🙂

  2. northwestrain says:

    Our country is so backward and hateful toward women — that it will be a long time before we even reach 33% women in both houses and a woman president. Corporations are the ones who fund the elections and look how many corporations are headed by women.

    I’ll never get over the way Clinton was treated by the media — and she still won the primary — she had MORE real votes than 0bowma. (Caucus votes do NOT count). Then the Demo party stabbed her in the back.

    Ron Suskind really tried to present 0bowma in a positive light — but no amount of lipstick will turn a pig (MCP) into a leader. There is a consistent thread of misogynistic behavior from 0bowma throughout the book.

  3. lambert says:

    Foxy Lady, on the caucuses, it’s actually worse than you think:

    http://thedemocraticdaily.com/2008/06/02/updatetexas-caucus-fraud/

    • northwestrain says:

      Washington is a caucus state —

      Anyone can show up at a caucus — and I saw a whole lot of people who do not live in my voting district at the caucus. Some were trying to fit in by wearing “Northwest causal” except that it was faux causal — all new clothes.

      ——

      Texas and Washington were the two states that had both a primary and a caucus — all one needs to do is compare the two numbers to understand how deep 0bowma caucus fraud went.

      • janicen says:

        I lived in WA state in and attended caucuses in 04 and 08. Our small district caucus had no more than 75 people in 04. In 08 there was several hundred. The newcomers had never been seen before, all college age or young twenty somethings. It was obvious that they were not from the area.

        A few weeks after the caucuses I was told by our district chairperson that he had orders from the highest levels of the Democratic party that addresses were NOT to be checked in caucuses and that failure to abide by the directive would result in that voting district losing its delegates to the national convention.

        It was a well orchestrated fix and Dean was in on it. That’s why I have no sympathy for the fact that Dean got screwed by Obama once he didn’t need Dean anymore. You lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.

    • janicen says:

      Thanks for the reminder. I was almost thinking that the Republicans were so crazy, that I might vote Democrat to keep the crazies out. You just reminded me why I will never vote Democrat.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Looks like Romney is on track to be the next President.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/149612/Voters-Considering-Romney-Obama-Perry.aspx

    Sigh…

  5. northwestrain says:

    Rick Perry — and his ties to right wing religious crazy people. Before heading to this week’s Presidency 5 conference in Orlando, Rick Perry named two Religious Right leaders to his Florida Presidency 5 campaign leadership team: John Stemberger and Pam Olsen.

    http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/meet-rick-perrys-radical-leadership-team-co-chair

    In an April service, Olsen preached Seven Mountains dominionism, the radical theology that demands fundamentalist Christians take control over the seven critical spheres of society: government, business, media, arts and entertainment, family, media, education, and religion. Towards the end of the service, Olsen also states that in the End Times she will be capable of raising the dead:

  6. madamab says:

    Wonderful post, dak. Women, too, have a dream!