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  • Ashok Dhillon

Women’s Leadership in USA – So Underwhelming (#113)


On this International Women’s Day 2020, with the theme, ‘I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights’, thoughts turn to the generational bias against the election of a woman to America’s highest Office, even in 2020.


In that one milestone, America for all its advancements, is worlds behind so many other countries that decades ago elected women to their highest leadership positions, even when some of these countries were archaically patriarchal.


To underscore how backwards (or behind) America really is in this regard, it may be useful to point out that the first country to elect a woman to the highest Office was Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), a jewel-like island in the Indian Ocean at the tip of India, which is ancient, patriarchal, and predominantly Buddhist.


And, more extraordinarily, Bangladesh, which is one of the most underdeveloped countries in the world, also in the nook of India, over-archingly patriarchal, and predominantly Muslim, has had two women leaders, whose terms at the helm of their Country, has extended for over 23 years, collectively.


Altogether, over 70 countries of the World have had women leaders elected as Prime Ministers or Presidents, from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, Mongolia, and dozens of other developing Nations in Asia, Africa, and South and Central America – to Israel, England, France, Germany, New Zealand, Iceland, and most of the Nordic Countries, in fact in most of the developed countries.


The two Charts below are included to just give an idea of the prevalence of women leaders elected as ‘Heads of State’, and are not complete or accurate in their totality, and do not include women who are leaders in their countries, either as monarchs, or as appointed in authoritarian regimes, such as in Russia and China.

The United States is most conspicuous by its absence on the list of countries which have elected women ‘Heads of State’; it’s all the more jarring, as for decades the US prided itself as being the leader of the Democratic, progressive Liberal World. And even though under Donald J. Trump and the rather regressive Republicans, America can no longer be considered ‘progressive’ (to which statement the Republicans would readily agree), yet, the fact that in the World’s most powerful and ‘advanced’ Nation, women are considered not quite worthy to be capable of the ‘Highest Office’, in this day and age, is simply quite shocking in its backwardness (given the example of the sheer numbers of diverse countries that have already elected women leaders for decades).

And it’s certainly not for the lack of qualified women as Presidential Candidates that a woman has not been elected as President of the USA. In fact, in the last Presidential election (2016), Hillary Rodham Clinton was demonstratively the most qualified of all the Candidates, of both Parties, by far. Yet, she was systematically attacked for years, and no method was considered too low, or to unfair, to destroy and defame her by all those opposed her candidacy.


And it may say something about the American Public and its biases that in that Election (2016), America ended up electing Trump instead, a demonstratively unqualified and supremely unfit man, to be its President.


Now this coming Election (November 2020), America is once again demonstrating that the most knowledgeable, qualified and suitable Candidate, vying for the Presidency, Elizabeth Warren, will not be in the race to be President.

Instead, there will be one of three septuagenarian men, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and of course the incumbent aberration, Trump, who will ultimately compete for the top spot as the Country’s leader.


Among these three, not a one could hold a candle to Elizabeth Warren’s depth of public policy knowledge, and her particular specialized knowledge of finance and financial institutions, and the complex but favorable regulations that govern them all, and their proxies.


And so, once again America proved that it was not quite ready to back a woman, regardless of how superior she may be in expertise, experience and specialized knowledge, compared to her male counterparts, as in Elizabeth Warren, or how suitable she may be as a proven, competent and experienced leader, as in Hillary Clinton.


The US, in spite of having its pole position as ‘Leader of the World’ (which it has been actively retreating from under the Trump administration), is in its prominent prejudices of racism, bigotry, and gender inequality, still surprisingly unchanging. And in every small victory towards gender equality it revels in, as if it is a major accomplishment, yet its deep biases continue to reject and destroy worthy candidates for its top leadership position, who happen to be Competent Women.

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