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From Angela to Arlene: the march of the sisterhood

By Staff Reporter

Published 23/07/2016

Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel
First Minister Arlene Foster
Nicola Sturgeon

Some see it as a sign that the proverbial glass ceiling hampering the progress of women to the top is being smashed to smithereens.

Anyone who observes global politics cannot help noticing that, increasingly, it is women who are being put in charge.

Trump may have had the limelight this week with the razzmatazz of the Republican convention, but Hillary Clinton remains the firm favourite to become President of the United States in November.

Theresa May became the second female Prime Minister and, as she tries to work out what to do about Brexit, she will be dealing with Arlene Foster, First Minister of Northern Ireland, and Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland.

Presiding over the future direction of the European Union is the elder stateswoman of international power politics, Angela Merkel.

And it is not just affluent western nations that are appointing women as heads of state. Chile, Liberia, South Korea and Taiwan are among the growing number of countries that now have female presidents.

So, is this just coincidence, or has it happened by design?

“There is some interesting research showing that when countries or political parties are in crisis, women tend to the come to the fore,” says Dr Claire McGing, an authority on gender politics.

Having been stereotyped as flighty and over-emotional in the past, women are now being credited with having cool heads in a crisis.

The Independent columnist Janet Street-Porter summed up the feelings of many: “These are turbulent times. Who would you want to drive you through a blizzard — Donald Trump, or Hillary Clinton?”

There is a strong gender narrative to the story of Britain in the Brexit era, and according to one popular view, we can blame the chaps for blundering their way into the crisis.

According to Julia Baird in the New York Times, it was all down to the “boys’ club” who led Britain so clumsily to the Brexit door.

The former business minister, Anna Soubry, also placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of men: “We’ve had enough of these boys messing about.”

There may have been a surge of women entering high office, but Claire McGing believes there is no room for complacency: “Men still have a dominant position in political parties in Britain. There is an element of chance to what has happened recently, rather that signs of real equality.”

Belfast Telegraph

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