The Pandemic Has Revealed the Weakness of Strongmen- The Atlantic


Women leaders have shown that they are better at dealing with the pandemic. Germany’s Angela Merkel has reduced the infection rate given the pressure she was under to bequeath her chancellorship. The list spans Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon and her strategy of nuanced documentation and New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, with her empathetic Facebook Live address and decision to lockdown the country early.

Their counterparts in smaller states have also weathered the pandemic. Iceland’s Katrin Jakobsdottir offered free coronavirus testing to all the country’s citizens. Norway’s Erna Solberg held a press conference just for children, telling them it was okay to feel scared. The Atlantic article highlights, “A world ruled by women was held up as a gentler, less aggressive one: If only Lehman Brothers has been Lehman Sisters, the crash would not have happened. This time around, commentators are again praising the empathy and care of female leaders.”

However, it is interesting to note that it is not that women leaders are doing better, but strongmen are doing worse. Trump is an obvious case. Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro calls the coronavirus as “a little flu or a bit of cold”. Meanwhile, the official death toll of Brazil has surpassed that of China.

Moreover, the talk of “women leaders” suffers from a small sample size. Women are still inadequately represented in government. Out of the United Nations 193 countries, only 13 are led by women. Merkel is the only women in the strongmen group of G-20 countries.

Arguments that buttress women leaders are better because they are empathetic impart an “essentialist view of gender – men are X, women are Y – and one that has tended, historically, to hold women back.”

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For the most part women find it easier to govern due to a precondition of a political culture in which support and trust in the government is high. Better government yields women leaders not the other way round.

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