The COVID-19 pandemic was a shock to many nations who suddenly found themselves underprepared and unequipped to handle such a devastating and dangerous virus that scientists knew little to nothing about. Having been under such harsh and tolling conditions for the past 5 months, many concerned citizens have been vocal about politicians who could have prepared more to help decrease the number of cases and deaths in order to restore “normal life.”
The nations most affected by COVID-19, in regards to total cases and number of deaths, are as follows: the United States, Brazil, Russia, Spain, the United Kingdom, Italy and France. What do all of these countries have in common? Their leaders are all male.
While this may initially seem to be indirect correlation, the pattern begins to hold some credibility and reason once we consider the fact that the countries that are currently being recognized for most efficiently managing the spread of COVID-19 -- Germany, Taiwan, New Zealand, Finland, Norway, and Denmark -- are all female-led.
So, the real question is why are female-led nations handling the COVID crisis better than their male-led neighbors? Obviously, we should avoid making generalizations about the superiority of female leadership over male leadership. However, it has become abundantly clear that today, women leaders have done a far better job at damage control than their male counterparts. One explanation could be that a country with gender diverse leadership is more likely to have diverse perspectives regarding political and social issues, which can be extremely beneficial when searching for a solution to problems. Additionally, a diverse government represents minority citizens who are likely to side with politicians who understand their struggles.
Among the list of powerful and notable female politicians are women who are one of the first, if not the first, female leaders in their respective countries. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan, specifically, are the very first female leaders in both countries. Another notable mention is Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen of Denmark, who is both the second female prime minister and the youngest prime minister in Danish history. As seen by these numbers, female leadership is a new concept in most governments. Thus, each of these women in their own right are tenacious trailblazers who had to overcome more adversity than many men in the same profession in order to ascend to their current political positions. In this respect, another reason as to why these women have outperformed male leaders could be their desire to avoid scrutiny and bad press as the first female leaders as well as their increased knowledge and skill that allowed them to outcompete and outshine their male peers.
The woman who deserves the most praise, however, is Prime Minister Jacinda Arden of New Zealand. Throughout the pandemic, her cautious leadership has allowed New Zealand to maintain less than 100 active cases and only 22 deaths since March. Unlike other countries, on March 25, she began New Zealand’s lockdown which included shutting down the entire economy very early on in the pandemic. In contrast, President Trump has made multiple impatient attempts to rush the reopening of the American economy and has openly advocated for businesses to reopen, publicly undermining the risk of COVID. As it stands now, America currently has the most cases and highest death toll in the world, with over 5 million cases and 170,000 deaths.
Whatever the reason for their success may be, every single one of these female leaders deserves to be commended for their outstanding leadership and for changing the definition of what a powerful politician should be. Because of their thoughtfulness, preparedness, and professionalism, we are seeing each of these female-led nations reach new heights in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hopefully, male leaders will not be afraid to take a page or two out of their books and learn how to effectively handle the COVID crisis. As each of these successful nations open their doors and end their shelter-in-place orders, may we sit from inside our bubble-wrapped, germ-infested houses and watch as this new era of female leadership paves a political road in which politicians actually get things done.