It is our world's women who have stepped up to show us what effective and exemplary leadership looks like in the face of a terrible outbreak.
As the world continues to grapple with one of the worst pandemics it has seen in the recent past, citizens across the globe are looking to their leaders for resources to cope as well as hope for the future. While some countries have struggled to respond to the pandemic, others have fared better, instituting lockdowns and ensuring food security faster and more efficiently. When we take a look at which nations were able to respond to the novel Coronavirus better than others, we see one underlying factor: women leaders. Leaders like Angela Merkel of Germany, Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, and Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan have shown us some key insights to good leadership at the crux of a pandemic, Forbes reports. Here are some things we can learn from their excellent leadership.
A no-BS approach is what we needed during a public health crisis. The world stood shocked when German Chancellor Merkel stoop up and told her country that the virus would infect up to 70 percent of the population. Presidents and Prime Ministers across the world spent weeks dillydallying, denying the seriousness of the outbreak and then expressing their anger over not acting sooner. Merkel, on the other hand, was truthful with the citizens of Germany and didn't paint over the reality of what was to come. In addition to testing sooner than the country's European neighbors, Germany will also be able to loosen their lockdown restrictions far earlier than other nations. Germans can be thankful for the Chancellor's take-no-crap attitude for that.
Public policy hath no fury like a woman with resolve. What global responses to the outbreak have shown us is that it took firm and early decision-making to prevent the pandemic from spreading faster and resulting in more deaths. No leader acted with as much decisiveness as Taiwan's President Ing-wen. Back in January, when she saw the first signs of the novel Coronavirus, Ing-wen introduced 124 new policy measures to "flatten the curve" by blocking the spread of COVID-19. Now, she is sending 10 million face masks to various countries in Europe as well as the United States. The President has had, without a doubt, one of the best responses to the pandemic - only six deaths related to Coronavirus have been reported in Taiwan thus far.
We are able to respond effectively to the deadly Coronavirus because of the advancements in technology and science. Of course, it has been up to our leaders to use scientific evidence and tech to their advantage. While, for instance, United States President Donald Trump ignored the advice of health experts and infamously called the virus a "hoax," Iceland's Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir began offering free testing to all. Most countries have limited testing to only those with active symptoms, whereas Iceland has been more aggressive in its testing. Avivah Wittenberg-Cox writing for Forbes analyzes, "In proportion to its population the country has already screened five times as many people as South Korea has, and instituted a thorough tracking system that means they haven’t had to lockdown or shut schools."
At a time when the future is uncertain and the very fabric of our societies is coming undone, what we need most is a sense of community and no-strings-attached empathy. If our world's women leaders have shown us anything, it is that diplomacy and policy must be underlined with compassion. There is no better example of this than Norway’s Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, who held a conference strictly for children, no adults allowed. Responding to children's questions, she told her country's youngest citizens that it was okay to be scared and reassured them that everything would return to normal soon enough. Compare this with our more authoritarian world leaders: Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro, India's Narendra Modi, or Russia's Vladimir Putin. What was missing in their responses? Fierce compassion for their countries' most vulnerable.
Taking a look at these key components of what good crisis management looks like, it would definitely not be wrong to suggest that the world could do with more women in public office.