Comparing Jacinda Ardern to Donald Trump is rarely instructive. They’re so different it’s hard to believe they’re even the same species. Certainly this morning as I logged on to catch up on the news the gap between these two world leaders seemed even wider than ever before.
Ardern had taken to social media to share a heart-warming photo. As she headed out the door she realised her mother had gotten up early to make her a cup of tea and packed breakfast.
Over on Twitter, my feed was populated with posts from a particularly aggressive press briefing in which the US president Donald Trump refused to answer questions about what exactly his administration had done with the time he explained he had ‘bought’ America through decisive action.
The contrast between these two leaders, one so gentle and humble, the other so wild and enraged, at the same point in history is stark. So too are the different realities unfolding in the nations they lead due to COVID19. The US is facing an absolute catastrophe with over 20,000 corona-virus deaths so far. In New Zealand only four deaths have been reported.
Obviously New Zealand is far smaller than the United States. They’re very different countries and it’s impossible to compare the two as apples and apples.
But, there is compelling evidence that female world leaders are responding to COVID19 more effectively than men are. The macho strongman version of power, in the vain of Donald Trump is proving impotent compared to the more understated but innovative and decisive female versions of power.
Tanja Kovac pointed out earlier on Tuesday that around the world, “There are a mere 16 women leaders out of 193 UN recognized nation-states. That’s a measly 8%. There are 10 Nations who have successfully “flattened the curve” right now. Women lead 40% of them. THINK about that.
8% of the leaders; 40% of the nations saving the lives of their citizens.
Australia, pushed along by a bipartisan National Cabinet, is doing well. Of the 6 nations who are doing a better job at flattening than us – Taiwan, Senegal, NZ, Estonia, Greece & Malaysia – 67% of them have women leaders. . 67%. 4 of those 6. Save lives. Elect women.”
In Forbes magazine Avivah Wittenberg-Cox writes today that female world leaders are wielding their power differently – but with greater impact.
“From Iceland to Taiwan and from Germany to New Zealand, women are stepping up to show the world how to manage a messy patch for our human family. Add in Finland, Iceland and Denmark, and this pandemic is revealing that women have what it takes when the heat rises in our Houses of State. Many will say these are small countries, or islands, or other exceptions. But Germany is large and leading, and the UK is an island with very different outcomes.”
In Taiwan, Wittenberg-Cox writes that Tsai Ing-wen introduced 124 measures to block the spread back in January, without having to resort to the lockdowns that have become common elsewhere. She is now sending 10 million face masks to the US and Europe.
In Finland the Prime Minister Sanna Marin has roped in social media influencers as powerful agents during this crisis.
“Helsinki has classified social media influencers as critical actors to society during a crisis, along with doctors, bus drivers and grocery store workers. Finland says it is the only country in the world that has defined social media as a critical operator,” Politico reports.
“We are aware that government communication doesn’t reach everyone,” the PM’s office confirmed. “Before this was possible through traditional media like television, but today especially young people get their news through social media.”
From Angela Merkel in Germany to Erna Solberg in Norway to Ardern in New Zealand, Tsai Ing-wen in Taiwan, Sanna Marin in Finland and Denmark’s Mette Frederiksen, these female heads of state are displaying power differently. And it’s proving formidable in the face of COVID19.