Intervention’s global gender watch over rising number of women in apex political power across the world suffered a setback yesterday with the successful impeachment of Dilma Rousseff as President of Brazil. While the impeachment itself is no longer news by now or not entirely unexpected, it depletes by one, the existing stock of women presidential leaders or so in the world today and what that figure might be by January 2017.
Intervention’s initial story on that entitled “The Coming Women Take Over of Power Globally” ran as follows: The world might be on the eve of a revolution after which things might never be the same again. It would not be the presence of women in power. That cannot be anything new as there have always been women in power. What would be unique is both the number of such women in control of power at a same time and in certain specific countries in the world today. Never before has this been the case: the likelihood of Hilary Clinton climbing to power in the United States, the only other great power in a multipolar but still bipolar conscious world; the reality of Angela Merkel in Germany; the fact of Theresa May in the UK; the embattled but politically reflexive Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, Park Geun-Hye in South Korea and Tsai Ing-wen in Taiwan, the Christine Lagarde pack atop the International Monetary Fund, (IMF); the continuation in office of Dlamini Zuma at the African Union, at least for the rest of the year; the likely emergence of a woman Secretary-General of the United Nations. Nicola Sturgeon might not be holding power in the sense of a president or prime minister but her leadership of the party at a time of heightened Scottish aspiration to exit from the UK makes her a woman to watch in global power terms.
What this reality conveys is women power in some of the most sensitive countries in the world at a critical moment involving what might as well be a power transition: the US as a status quo great power facing a rising challenger; Germany and the UK in Europe; the African Union in a torn continent, Taiwan in cross-strait relations and overall East Asian security or even South Korea in the context of her nuclear armed kinsmen in North Korea; the Brazilian State as a rising global power from Latin America, and of course, the UN, the closest to the concept of ‘world government’. In this context, only Russia and Iran remain for the gender coup to be a 100 per cent success. But when one considers that the Queen is there in the UK as an instinctive moral guarantor for this moment in history, then it must, indeed, be a formidable list. People make the mistake of distinguishing between symbolic and real powers when discussing the Queen, It is an unsustainable distinction.
The question this raises for further reflection is whether this just happened or it is the materialization of a systematic plan by some interests or forces in response to gender imbalance in access to power. Or could this be God’s own resolution of the most intractable conflict ever – gender inequality?
As interesting as this coup, there is still something about it. It all looks like a basket of evidence looking for a question to answer. In other words, what would be the so what in the coming women take over of power globally? Would this translate to anything in women liberation right down to the villages or just end at the UN headquarters in New York? Would anything fundamental trickle down or everything would remain up there for powerful elite women consolidating their grip at one level or the other? Is this gonna be the most peaceful moment in the world? Folk sociology is awash with claims of a special cord between women and peace.
For this medium, that is an angle to watch. We have been told that women are emotionally more intelligent, more balanced as to be more likely to avoid war. Going by this, women take over of power globally promises a more peaceful world than the era preceding this. It could begin from a Mrs Clinton reluctant to order air strikes or a reckless invasion, being a mother with keen awareness of the direct and collateral damage that comes with that. That is, we would not be told later that Mrs Clinton, for instance, could not play the gender card at a crucial moment because the logic of the Military Industrial Complex, (MIC) or Wall Street proved more powerful.
Merkel is not a militarist in the first place. So, there is not much to say there. In any case, she has been a power for good with her tremendous ability in de-escalation, using subtle and gentler tactics. Theresa May is just coming in. Tough as they come, her pedigree is, however, not dipping with blood, notwithstanding her positive response to the question of whether she would order nuclear strikes. In spite of such a rugged and troubling sense of deterrence, she also seems set to speak truth to power, given her attacks on excesses of big businesses so far as far as far as peace and security in the UK and even the entire world is concerned.
None of them is a bumbling naiveté even if disagreeable on some of the issues in contest. Each one of the new player in the emerging women’s world has come in prepared. That is not a guarantee for anything, it could, however, be a guarantee for everything in a world of Professor Ulrich Beck’s ‘uncontrollable risks’.
It would be interesting to see what the rhetoric and practice of nuclear weaponry would be in the next one year, if there would be any change at all and if such a change would be fundamental or a grudging concession. However it goes, this promises to be a very interesting time! The impending moment could, of itself, contribute to many more women enrolling in school as a fall out of just seeing many more women presidents and prime ministers on television. In the same way, it could send many more girls out of school, depending on the viciousness of the next structural adjustment imposed on, say Africa. In all cases, we would see how the impending moment counterbalance or reify the difference that women can make or are believed to make in power.