Women who lead the world
Can you imagine a world where women are not only fighting a pandemic, but also changing the face of politics as we know it? Welcome to 2021, a year that has already ushered in many challenges and unwelcome surprises, yet the women who have triumphed and risen to the forefront of the good fight have made this all a bit more bearable.
When we look back in history, great leaders are often lauded for their successes. But, paradoxically, what makes good leaders great are the trials and tribulations of failure. Very often, the lessons learned from confronting fear and uncertainty transform good leaders into great ones.
In this article we celebrate the five of the most influential women in politics today. And when it comes to education, experience and humanitarian endeavours, these women not only fit the mould but they are shaping a new world for all of us.
Kamala Devi Harris
Back in her student years, Kamala Devi Harris could be found protesting at anti-apartheid demonstrations. Her strong start as an activist naturally led her down a path to study political science and economics. This passion eventually resulted in her becoming San Francisco’s first black female District Attorney in 2004, and the first woman to serve as the Attorney General of California. Harris holds the title of being the first South Asian American senator in history, the First African American vice president, the first Indian-American vice president, and the first female vice president ever to serve the US.
Harris still speaks up for the unheard today as she now defends reproductive rights and the right to abortion. Kamala Harris also has a creative side and has published her own children’s book “Superheroes Are Everywhere.” and memoir “The Truths We Hold: An American Journey”.
“Our unity is our strength and diversity is our power.”
Prior to her role as a first lady, Michelle Obama developed her leadership skills as an Associate at a Law firm, an Associate Dean at the University of Chicago, as well as a board member of a major supplier for Wal-Mart. Obama then served as the executive director and then Vice President for Community and External Affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals. Obama then moved on to become the first Black woman to step into the role of First Lady of the US.
Obama also takes pride in her contributions to various Non-profit initiatives where she motivates the youth to get involved in social issues. Her campaign ‘Let’s Move’ is all about improving the health and wellness of children to address the issue of childhood obesity. Obama also founded an initiative called ‘Joining Forces’ to help female veterans find jobs. The campaign aims to support war veterans, their families and service members as they reintegrate back into society.
“When girls are educated, their countries become stronger and more prosperous.”
We’ve all been watching in awe as Jacinda Ardern has gracefully and successfully led her country through the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s hard to believe that Ardern grew up as a mormon, as she shows no signs of wanting to live a simpler and slower life. She started her career as a researcher and gradually worked her way up to prime minister of New Zealand. Child poverty, the New Zealand housing crisis and social inequality are just some of the issues Arden’s Government is dedicated to tackling. Apart from getting through a pandemic, Arden has also been able to increase welfare benefits to those who need it most.
“To me, leadership is not about necessarily being the loudest in the room, but instead being the bridge, or the thing that is missing in the discussion and trying to build a consensus from there.”
Kaja Kallas has just recently become Estonia’s first female prime minister. This former lawyer and member of European Parliament has an economics degree, which allowed her to work as an executive coach in the Estonian Business School.Kallas handled the legislative process of six reports including the Civil law rules on robotics, e-Privacy regulation, the Annual report on EU Competition Policy, the own-initiative report on the Digital Single Market, and on Delivering a New Deal for Energy Consumers. Kallas has also published her own memoir MEP: 4 aastat Euroopa Parlamendis, where she talks about her Four Years in the European Parliament
“You have to come up with solutions. This requires an open mindset – an open mindset for failure as well.”
The fact that she can complete a marathon in under four hours is proof that Kersti Kaljulaid has the kind of strength and determination it takes to be the first female president of Estonia. Not only did she graduate cum laude as a biologist, but she has an MBA in business management too. She was the first woman to lead a power plant in Estonia, and has been the chairperson of the board of the University of Tartu since 2011. Kaljulaid also had the foresight to implement the e-dentity program, allowing citizens to pay taxes and vote online.
“Too many people in the world associate democracy with their ability to go and buy more and more every year. I come from a country where it’s much more popular to remind people that democracy is available at every income level, and this is something which you need to protect.”