Angela Merkel with president of Argentina Mauricio Macri in Buenos Aires in June 2017 / Casa Rosada / Wikimedia Commons
Wanted: A woman to be the Leader of the Free World in place of Angela Merkel.
Benefits: You get to be the Leader of the Free World, not to mention an inspiration for people of all genders across the globe.
Drawbacks: It sounds kind of stressful. And you have to deal with Donald Trump.
Key requirements: Ability to rise above hordes of whiny manbabies, commitment to equality for all, and a desire to make the world a better place.
Start date: Immediately.
It was the shock of shocks in Europe: this past Monday, news broke that Angela Merkel’s attempts to form a new German government had failed, after one of the parties abandoned the MMP process which works almost exactly the same as New Zealand’s. Just like that, the career of Germany’s first female leader – and the most powerful woman in the world for the past seven years (according to Forbes’ annual rankings) – was plunged into serious doubt.
Others have already commented on the seriousness of the world’s fourth-largest economy being unable to form a government, and the effect it could have on the global economy and politics. But it’s also important to remember this: if the career of the world’s most powerful woman is over, we need other women to step up and be ready to lead – because we’re sick of mediocre men more interested in their own careers than the greater good.
Is the (increasingly more probable) downfall of Merkel a blow to women everywhere? Yes. After all, her CV speaks for itself. But she’s also one person – there are more than 3.5 billion other women who can step up and follow in her footsteps.
Yes, Angela Merkel is incredibly inspiring (she’s also the first leader of a reunified Germany to have grown up under the oppression of communist East Germany). But there are also loads of other women leading governments right now who are also bloody impressive.
Here in Aotearoa, we have Jacinda Ardern, of course. But there’s also Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (the first woman to be elected head of state in Africa), Lithuania’s Dalia Grybauskaitė (the country’s first female president, and the first president of any gender to be re-elected for a second consecutive term), Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg (who has been open about her struggles overcoming dyslexia and has championed increased immigration at a time when such positions are not always popular in Europe), Chile’s polyglot president Michelle Bachelet (who speaks no fewer than five languages, and used to be the executive director of UN Women, and who has tirelessly championed women’s rights around the world), Namibian prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa (who has made closing the gender pay gap across Africa a key focus), Estonian president Kersti Kaljulaid (the country’s first female head of state, and youngest-ever leader) and Serbian prime minister Ana Brnabić (only the fifth openly LGBT+ head of government in the world ever, and the second woman – quite impressive considering how conservative Serbian culture traditionally is).
They may not be as “recognisable” as Merkel or covered as often in media, but they’re still pretty awesome people to look up to, especially as they are working to make the world a more equal – and better – place for everyone.
We can look up to these women because the things they’re doing are a whole lot more inspiring than dozens – no, hundreds – of men leading countries around the world. Yes, some of these men (here’s looking at you, Canada’s Justin Trudeau) are inspiring, too. But far too many of them represent “business as usual” – pale, stale and… male. How does continuing the status quo inspire women to be the most kickass they can be?
Is Merkel the de facto Leader of the Free World? Yes (at least, she’s a whole lot more respected around the world than the current US leader). But if she’s on her way out, another woman can – and needs – to take her spot.
Because let’s be honest: we’re sick and tired of manbabies throwing a mantrum and taking their toys and storming off when they don’t get exactly everything they want. Wah.Support Villainesse