Over the course of the past few months it has not gone unnoticed that predominantly countries with a female head of state, such as Taiwan, Finland, and New Zealand, have been exceptionally successful in containing the spread of Covid-19. A gender-balanced government appears to be better equipped to tackle the different impacts of the virus on men and women including in relation to the recovery response, thus having a more gender equal impact. Jacqui True, writer for the Peace Institute Oslo, highlighted that “by combining empathy and care with decisiveness and reliance on rational science, female leaders have been able to foster solidarity and compassion”.
Moreover, as women are often the first to respond in times of crisis as caretakers of their families and communities, there is a great need to include them in the policy making processes that impact the population as a whole. The benefits of encouraging women’s participation in policy making processes in times of crises can also be seen in Yemen, where women have played a key role in the peacebuilding process. Their knowledge about the communities they support allow them to include local perspectives that would otherwise be overlooked into the peacebuilding processes and to address issues such as gender-based violence that women are increasingly faced with, especially in the case of the five-year long armed conflict.
Nevertheless, as mentioned by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, even though women in Yemen were recognised for their role in the peacebuilding efforts, women are still predominantly portrayed as passive victims rather than active leaders.
The leadership of Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-Wen should be applauded as the first country to control the outbreak of Covid-19, as should the Yemeni women for their role in releasing hundreds of detainees last year. Further, New Zealand’s President Jacinda Ardern should be praised for the successful approach of leading with empathy and solidarity in times of strife. Gender Concerns stands in solidarity with female leaders all over the world in their efforts to collectively achieve milestones for the greater good. As such, the organisation calls for the recognition of the incredible accolades achieved by women.