Is a New ‘Femokratie’ Coming?
There is an increasingly widespread sense that strong female leaders are needed to ‘clean up the mess created by men’July 21st, 2016
Over the years, there has been a dramatic shift in the role(s) of women in leadership. Women have always had the capacity and desire for leadership. However, due to political, economical and societal restrictions, they were previously rarely unable to advance in leadership positions. Recently, however, we have seen a very distinct trend: an outstanding rise of women's political leadership.
In the 1960s only three women had been elected as president or prime minister. This number increased to 5, 8, 24 and then 25 in each succeeding decade, and it has already reached 30 at the time of writing (2016). Slow but steady progress. Currently, increasing numbers of women around the world are stepping into the political realm and the gender gap between male and female candidates is closing.
Female leaders are currently active in political leadership in more than 15 countries, including Germany, Poland, Scotland, Taiwan, Namibia, and Bangladesh. If we think about women like Theresa May, the current frontrunner to become Britain’s next prime minister; Hillary Clinton, running as favourite to take the US presidency in November; Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's first minister; and Iceland’s first female prime minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, it can be argued that we are witnessing a remarkable period for female political leadership. Is this all a happy coincidence? Or are men finally stepping aside for women?
Author, Hanna Rosin, in her bestseller, "The End of Men and Rise of Women", argues that female skills and qualities are increasingly valued, heralding “the end of 200,000 years of human history and the beginning of a new era of women."
The recent Eurozone crisis has been associated with high levels of public disillusionment with politics, often manifested politically in the form of strikes and mass demonstrations across Europe. The current political elite has been widely blamed for the recent fall, therefore, there is a strong feeling that change to the political status quo is needed. Indeed, many argue that the recent rise of women in the political sphere can be seen as a way to "clean up the mess created by men", providing citizens with new hope. We are beginning to see the emergence of a new female elite, a successful political ‘powerfrau’. Angela Merkel is one obvious example of this new, female elite, and has been representing both Germany and the European Union on the global stage.
In the light of these developments, there is a very real danger that future political candidates will be selected on the basis of gender and not their ability to do a good job. However, women, just like men, should be chosen on the basis of their qualities, their policies and their ability to serve constituents and not only for resurrecting the image of the political elite.