From Iceland to Taiwan and from Germany to New Zealand, women are stepping up to show the world how to manage cheallenges caused by COVID-19. Add in Finland, Iceland and Denmark, and you’re gonna see that women have what it takes when they are suppressing the pandemic and crisis.
These leaders are introducing us an alternative way of managing power. What are they teaching us?
Decisiveness, truth, importance of using technologies and … love.
Among the first and the fastest responses was from Tsai Ing-Wen in Taiwan. Back in January, at the first sign of a new illness, she introduced 124 measures to block the spread of the pandemic. As a result, Thaiwan has not reported about new cases since 12 April, according to The Wall Street Journal. She is now sending 10 million face masks to the U.S. and Europe.
Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand was early to response imposing self-isolation on people entering New Zealand, when there were just 6 cases in the whole country, and banned foreigners entirely from entering soon after.
Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, stood up early and calmly told her countrymen that this was a serious bug that would infect up to 70% of the population. “It’s serious,” she said, “take it seriously.” She did, so they did too. Testing began right from the get-go. Germany jumped right over the phases of denial, anger and disingenuousness we’ve seen elsewhere.
Iceland, under the leadership of Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, is offering free coronavirus testing to all its citizens, and will become a key case study in the true spread and fatality rates of COVID-19. Most countries have limited testing to people with active symptoms. Iceland has already screened five times as many people as South Korea has.
In addition, social research shows that Katrín Jakobsdóttir has the highest level of trust among all Iceland politicians. She also cherishes eco-social and feminist values.
And instituted a thorough tracking system that means they haven’t had to lock down or shut schools.
Sanna Marin became the world’s youngest head of state (34-year-old) when she was elected last December in Finland. It took a millennial leader to spearhead using social media influencers as key agents in battling the coronavirus crisis. Recognizing that not everyone reads the press, Finland started inviting influencers of any age to spread fact-based information on managing the pandemic.
Norway’s Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, had the innovative idea of using television to talk directly to her country’s children. She was building on the short, three-minute press conference that Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen had held a couple of days earlier.
Solberg held a dedicated press conference where no adults were allowed. She responded to kids’ questions from across the country, taking time to explain why it was normal to feel scared. The originality and obviousness of the idea takes one’s breath away.
How many other simple, humane innovations would more female leadership unleash? Generally, the empathy and care which all of these female leaders have communicated seems to come from an alternate universe than the one we have gotten used to.
Now, compare these leaders and stories with the strongmen using the crisis to accelerate a terrifying trifecta of authoritarianism: blame-“others,” capture-the-judiciary, demonize-the-journalists, and blanket their country (like Trump, Modi, Orban, Putin and others).
There have been years of research timidly suggesting that women’s leadership styles might be different and beneficial. Instead, too many political organizations and companies are still working to get women to behave more like men if they want to lead or succeed. Yet these national leaders are case that women can be successful in politics acting in their own styles.