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Sunday, January 22, 2006
Madame President
This week Liberia swore-in Africa's first democratically elected female president. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was sworn in Monday January 16th as war-torn Liberia's new president, carving her name into history as Africa's first elected female head of state. Liberia is Africa's oldest republic as it was founded by freed American slaves in 1847. Liberia has been subject to chaos since being invaded by neighboring Ivory Coast in 1989. Ms. Johnson Sirleaf will have her plate full dealing with the strife in her nation and has much to prove to her nay-sayers. Also this week, Chile elected its first female president, Michelle Bachelet. Ms. Bachelet joins a growing number of female leaders in Latin America. "Who would have said, 10, 15 years ago -- that a woman would be elected president!" Bachelet told thousands of supporters this week. I tend to think of both of these countries as rather conservative. So why is it that these nations have shown more progressive views and elected a candidate to the highest office not based on sex but on qualifications? More importantly, when will the United States follow suit? The only woman ever to land on a major-party presidential ticket was Democrat Walter F. Mondale's 1984 running mate, Geraldine Ferraro. However, Polls now show at least seven in 10 Americans say they would send a woman to the White House. Some experts blame history for the lack of U.S. female leaders: a country without a monarchy has no female rulers as role models. Another factor is that presidential candidates are elected nationally, not hand-picked by party leaders. Several women mentioned as possible 2008 candidates: Condolezza Rice, Hawaii Republican Governor Linda Lingle, Connecticut Republican Governor Jodi Rell, Arizona Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano, and Senators Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Tex. and Hillary Rodham-Clinton D-NY. At least 21 American women have run for president throughout history. They include Democratic Representative Patricia Schroeder of Colorado in 1984 and Shirley Chisholm of New York in 1972, and Maine Republican Margaret Chase Smith in 1964. Currently, women are president of Finland, Ireland, Latvia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. Women serve as prime ministers of New Zealand, Bangladesh and Mozambique. Commander in Chief" this season featuring Geena Davis as Mackenzie Allen, the United State's first woman President. What I find a bit offensive about this show is that it focuses a bit too much on Mac's family issues. If the show was about a male President, would that even be an issue? But I suppose the entire premise of the show is that Mac is a woman in the Oval office. Let's just watch the stereotypes, okay ABC? I'm anticipating that the United States will join the progressive ranks of nations with a female leader and show the rest of the world that we are as open-minded as we purport to be. I'll wait with bated breath as 2008 approaches.
posted by Lisa at 1/22/2006 11:13:00 AM ¤ Permalink ¤


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