WOMEN ON GLOBAL POLITICAL ASCENDANCY
I have been on vacation in the United States of America( USA) in the last couple of days and have been sucked in by the elaborate process of Presidential primary elections which culminated in the Republican National Convention, a week earlier and the Democratic National Convention last week. The two conventions produced billionaire Donald Trump and Former Secretary of State and former First Lady Hilary Rodham Clinton as their respective presidential candidates to stand for the November Presidential elections. The Democratic convention was particularly electrifying. I was completely blown by the testimony of former mayor of New York City, billionaire Michael Bloomberg who literally called Donald Trump a Con man. That was the most devastating blow and seemed to persuade me that Hilary Clinton may be on her way to making multiple history. She already made one as the first woman to be nominated as a Presidential candidate by a major political party in the USA. She had bettered her 2008 effort, when she was beaten by Barack Obama and has risen above the efforts of Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, two women who had made serious bids for presidential nominations in the recent times. Hilary Clinton has broken the political ceiling !
All over the World, women are breaking political ceilings and a very interesting trend seems to be emerging. Last year, one of the worlds most conservative countries when it comes to gender discrimination- Saudi Arabia allowed women to vote for the first time in municipal elections. In the 2016 Forbes list of the World's 100 most powerful women, 26 of them are political leaders. Indeed the the top three are political leaders. The first is Angela Merkel, German chancellor, who controls the $3.3 trillion German GDP and the defacto leader of the European Union, influencing the $16.2T EU GDP, followed by Hilary Clinton who in my view is likely to become the 45th President, and the first Female President of the USA. Third on the list is Janet Yellen, the US Federal reserve Board Chair.
On the list are several women who now govern their countries as Presidents or Prime Ministers- Park Geon-hye, President of South Korea;Tsai ling-wen, President of Taiwan; Sheikh Hasina Wajed Prime Minister of Bangladesh; Bidya Bhandari, President of Nepal; Dalia Grybauskaite, President of Lithuania; Ameenuh Gurib-Fakim, President of the Republic of Mauritius; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia; Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister, Scotland;Michelle Bachelet- two-time President of Chile and of course the oldest of them all Queen Elizabeth 11,Monarch of the UK. Not discounting Dilma Rouseff, the suspended Brazilian President who is under impeachment trials.
What is more remarkable is that the top Western Nations of the World-USA, Germany and the UK may now be led by women. Last June, following the Brexit debacle that saw the premature end of David Cameron's tenure as Prime Minister of UK, Theresa May became the Prime Minister of the UK, the second woman to achieve that feat. The first being Margaret Thatcher( 1925-2013) who was the Conservative party leader from 1975-1990 and served as the first female UK Prime minister from 1979-1990. Theresa May who was the Home Secretary from 2010 to 2016 is following in the foot steps of Margaret Thatcher becoming Conservative party leader as well as Prime Minister. So if Hilary becomes the next US Presiedent, then the triangle is complete.
In addition to being heads of States or Prime Ministers, women are occupying other top political positions in the World. Elvira Nabiullina is the Governor of the Central Bank of Russia.Yes Russia!, while Nemat 'Minouche' Shafik is the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England; Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi is the minister of International cooperation and Development, the United Arab Emirate( UAE). Yes UAE!; Aung San Suu Kyi is the State Counselor, Myanmar and Frederica Mogherini is the High Rep of the EU for foreign affairs and Security policy. Three Justices of the US Supreme Court who are female and Samantha Power, US ambassador to the UN all made the Forbes list of the 100 most powerful women in the World.
In Nigeria, the lot of Women in political leadership reached a peak during the tenure of President Good luck Jonathan who gave a lot of opportunities for women to be elected or appointed to top political positions, achieving the 30% mark in the Federal cabinet. Even in the judiciary we had women leading the Federal Court of Appeal and the. Supreme Court. President Buhari seems not to be so inclined with only about three female ministers in his cabinet. Nigeria is yet to have a female State Governor, not to talk of Vice President or President. But with the current global political ascendancy of women, it may not be too long for women to achieve such positions in Nigeria.
Globally, what does this trend portend for world economy and World Peace? Looking at the performances of Pace setters like Golda Meir(1898-1978), Indira Ghandi( 1917-1984), Corazin Aquino( 1933-2005),Benzair Bhutto( 1953-2007) and Margaret Thatcher( 1925-2013), two trends emerge. First is the pursuit of Freedoms and World Peace. From Golda Meir to Indira Ghandi to Corazin Aquino, these Female Political leaders left a legacy of fighting for equality, freedom and peace. Then the legacy of Margaret Thatcher is economic reform, renewal and growth. Thatcher brought economic liberalization to the UK. So for a world threatened by global terrorism and economic turmoil, may be it is about time the women took over the heights of World's political leadership. Therefore Hilary Rodham Hilton will have my vote on. That is if I am eligible to vote . Whatever, please join me in raising a toast to our Women for the giant strides they have made in wrestling significant political positions from men. May be our World will be the better for it!
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR