When I was less than a year old, my mom thrust me into Hillary Clinton’s arms so that if she ever became president, I would have been held by the first woman president of the United States. Compared to other countries, we are far behind in getting women into top political positions.
Consider Angela Merkel, who was ranked number one by Forbes as the most powerful woman in politics and has been elected to a third term as Germany’s chancellor. Germany has taken a strong stance on refugees, and she has been considered a pragmatic leader. Many consider Merkel’s success a huge step for women everywhere, as she has prevailed throughout the doubt many women leaders receive.
However, Merkel has been hesitant to promote women’s rights. She even denied being a feminist, saying, “A feminist, no. Perhaps an interesting case of a woman in power, but no feminist. Real feminists would be offended if I described myself as one.” It is sad that often women in politics have to play down their feminism in order to be taken seriously. Now, in Angela Merkel’s third term, she is starting to come around and support women’s rights, and is going to focus on improving gender equality in the workplace.
Other countries have prominent women leaders, including Taiwan, Myanmar, Nepal, and Croatia. And Sri Lanka turned heads when they elected Sirimavo Bandaranaike in 1960. Since then, there have been over 70 female prime ministers and presidents. However, for a world where women make up roughly half of the population, the representation is strongly lacking. But, there is hope for the future…
More recently, a woman, Theresa May, came into power in the U.K., as David Cameron stepped down. The more women politicians there are, the more accepted women will be in other positions of power. In Forbes’ List of Powerful Women, four out of the top five women from 2016 were American, showing that, in America, women are able to rise to power. Yet, the United States is one of the few progressive countries that has not had a woman leader. While the epitome of gender equality would be choosing a candidate based solely on qualifications instead of gender, the lack of a female President in the United States is telling of the prejudice women in politics (and other high-power positions) face. Let’s end the streak of over 200 years of men in power in the United States, and give young girls a role model to show them that they can dream big; living-in-the-White-House-one-day big.
Katie is a seventeen year old high school student who attends Horace Greeley. She was born and raised in Westchester County, and has seen Hillary in town on multiple occasions.