Why leading 'like a girl' will help us build back better

Why more leading ‘like a girl’ will help us rebuild better

Historically telling someone they did something "like a girl" was derogatory. Not anymore.
like a girl

Throughout the pandemic Women’s Agenda and other publications have turned up the volume on how effective women’s leadership has been in curbing COVID-19 and how important it is to maintain the social and economic gains women have made during this crisis.

Our focus now must turn to how we rebuild for better after the pandemic. The hashtags #BuildBackBetter and #BuildBackBetterTogether which have emerged suggest this discussion is already happening.

Historically telling someone they do something “like a girl” has been derogatory. It’s time to reframe it. To lead ‘like a girl’ is the ultimate compliment.

Women leading COVID-19 responses in countries like Taiwan, Norway, New Zealand and more, have essentially written a guide book on leadership that others would do well to follow as they move to recovery and reconstruction.

Many global female leaders have achieved co-operation, calm and a flattening of the curve with clear, decisive evidence-based communication, and, importantly, genuine empathy.

The pandemic has rocked fragile economic and social foundations right around the world. We are seeing severe limitations in our systems of work, child care, education, housing and health.

We are seeing heightened risk of domestic violence to women and children that home-based isolation poses.  The widespread economic hardship for women in highly casualised and under-valued work is also exposed.

We must avoid any temptation to ‘snap back’ to old ways and policies. In Australia we have shown that we can house the homeless and those in housing stress; we can subsidise wages and increase income support to prevent hardship and economic collapse; we can provide free child care and a whole lot more.

As we build back better, we must look to the women leaders who have implemented wellbeing measures and budgets. We must move beyond economic growth and GDP as the only measure of progress.

The winning formula for a post-COVID-19 future must be progress and prosperity = economic growth + wellbeing for all measures + more women in leadership roles.

Dr Karen Struthers is an Adjunct Fellow, Griffith University and former Minister for Community Services, Housing and Women, Qld Government.

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