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World of Women: born to lead 2020-05-26 오후 6:22:00

Jung Eun-Kyeong. Jacinda Ardern. Angela Merkel. Mette Frederiksen. Tsai Ing-Wen.
There’s one thing that links all of these names; they all belong to women. More importantly, they belong to leaders of their respective countries who are leading their people out of the malicious cloud of Covid-19.

Female leaders are truly a beacon of hope today. With their patience and guidance, they are easing our panic in this terrifying pandemic. Take the example of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is taking Germany by storm with her iconic slogan, “It’s serious. Take it seriously.” There’s also Premier of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern, with her empathetic Facebook Live broadcasts. She has provided transparency to Kiwis and has established herself as a relatable and honest leader. Last but not least, there’s Jung Eun-Kyeong, the Director of the KCDC, who is delivering clear and consistent briefings regarding the current Covid-19 situation. There are many, many more women leaders who are displaying admirable leadership.

On the other hand, the male leaders, or strongmen(the Atlantic) are doing very poorly in comparison. Donald Trump continues to forgo a mask during his daily schedule despite the fact that the White House is now under red alert due to the infection of his aides. He shows a blatant disregard for both common sense and the wellbeing of his people by encouraging them to “drink bleach” in a recent press conference. Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil hasn’t done any better; he replied by saying “So what?” to a reporter who asked him about his thoughts on the rising Brazilian death toll. He also went on to say that Brazilians “already have the antibodies” for Covid-19. Our strongmen seem to be showing an increasing proclivity for baseless remarks.

Let’s turn our attention to the policies female leaders have put into place in order to contain the Covid-19. On March 14th, Jacinda Arden imposed a 14-day quarantine on all incoming travelers and implemented a nationwide lockdown two weeks later. Thanks to her quick and decisive action, New Zealand has under 1,500 infected and only 21 dead. 88% of New Zealanders trust in their government to “do the right thing”.

Angela Merkel’s talks explaining the science behind Covid-19 is gathering global appeal. As a doctorate quantum chemist herself, she not only accepts science but is using it as a tool to denounce misinformation about the coronavirus. Relying on medical institutions such as the Berlin Institution of Health, Merkel is advocating for further research into the coronavirus. In a speech from three weeks ago, Merkel said: “the entire country [is] being tried as they have not been tried since the Second World War”, reiterating the seriousness of the situation. She also introduced a new law, making mask use mandatory for all German citizens who use public transport. Germany has so far recorded just over 8,000 deaths, and Merkel’s public approval rates are above 80%.

Jung Eun-Kyeong continues to deliver calm expository talks almost daily on the coronavirus situation, especially with the new hurdle that has come her way. The South Korean club outbreaks have inspired fear in Korean society, which was beginning to ease out of coronavirus restrictions. She is still proceeding with contact tracing, determined to find all the infected as soon as possible. She is engaging with her fellow Koreans on a direct, personal level, all the while dispelling misinformation about the pandemic. In a recent children’s interview about the coronavirus, she gave reasonable and kind responses to questions such as “Can I go to my friend’s birthday party”, not displaying any signs of impatience. People look to her for guidance, and at this point, her word is law.

Is there a reason why female leaders are, or at least seem to be doing better in their respective positions during this time of coronavirus?

According to CNN, this phenomenon is due to different styles of leadership. Research has found that female leaders are generally more risk-averse than male leaders, and that predilection influences their decisions. While male leaders try to take control of the situation, female leaders develop a ‘more rational approach to leadership’. The coronavirus is novel. Because it is a new disease, the situation that we are living in is unprecedented by nature, and as such, there are many risks and variables involved in every decision that leaders make. Despite this, emale leaders are adapting very well to the rapidly changing plane of work and life as well as the increasing number of coronavirus patients.

As the Atlantic opinion article so eloquently put, the coronavirus “can’t be delegitimized.” It is unresponsive to criticism or tweets. The virus will keep on taking innocent lives regardless of whether male leaders say that it’s just another flu virus or that it will go away, that all will be safe. Male leaders who deal with the coronavirus today have something in common; they refuse to accept any form of science whatsoever. Dr. Fauci is shaking his head in dismay during every press conference, and Brazil’s health minister has resigned. Science and common sense is the only way we will ever understand the coronavirus, and the rash actions of male leaders is further encouraging certain sectors of their country to follow their example. Mistakes like President Trump’s advertisements of hydroxychloroquine(a fancy name for bleach) and Boris Johnson calling the coronavirus a “moderate” threat as well as his ill-timed implementation of the herd-immunity strategy do not bode well.

The success of female leaders molding a positive image of female leaders in general in the eyes of many. At the same time, the failure of male leaders is making them shine more in comparison. I think this is a catalyst for a much-awaited societal change.

There is an unprecedented number of female leaders globally in positions of power. Both circumstances and people favor women’s leadership style. Their policies and approaches have proven more effective than those of male leaders in reality. To continue this trend, more female leaders must be elected as congresswomen or presidents, etc.

In times like these where people are driven by fear, it is crucial that leaders step up and show kindness to their people. It is their prime duty to assuage their worries and answer their questions with clarity. And from the sky-high approval rates for female leaders, it seems the people agree. Female leaders are at the forefront of the battle against the coronavirus, and it is thanks to their concern for the collective well-being of many that we are able to fight.

There is no doubt that we need more female leadership now more than ever, not just because of the sheer exceptionality of the pandemic that we are living through, but because our future is uncertain. Female leaders won’t “promise certainty” so easily. However, they will speak the truth because they care about their people. They are not afraid to undertake necessary measures in order to protect their wellbeing and quality of life. They understand that people are not just numbers; they are not mere figures that make up a statistic. Female leaders know that lives must be valued because life is precious and must be respected. Ours is a gender unequal world. Female leaders need to work twice as hard in order to validate themselves and their efforts. As such, they are exceptionally tough.

Although I am very proud to see so many female leaders being praised, it also shows that female leaders have not had the chance to shine as much as their male counterparts until now. It is beyond unfortunate that their leadership is being treated as something that is ‘newfound’ when capable female leaders have been here all along, just hidden under the shadow of male leaders whose brains are filled with nothing but political machinations that don’t value the lives of their own countrymen.

Despite the opacity of our future, I would say female leaders are better equipped than their male counterparts to lead.

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Deerfield Academy
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