There is a remarkable photo: Six female heads of government from Germany, Finland, Denmark, New Zealand, Iceland and Belgium who all have something in common: Altogether they handle the Corona challenge better and more responsibly than many a man in charge. The following immediately spring to mind: Mr Trump in the USA, Bolsonaro in Brazil, Putin in Russia, Xi in China, Kim in North Korea and Johnson in England. A commentary by Franz Alt
In a way one can regard them as “Truemmerfrauen” (women who cleared up the rubble after the Second World War) of the Corona crisis.
Do female heads of government provide more care and compassion than their male counterparts?
Corona is a pandemic, i.e. a plague. By mid-April 2020 about 2.2 million people have been infected worldwide and more than145,000 have died. Looking at the 196 countries of our planet on a Corona map, you will see: In some countries women in government actually cope with this challenge in a more sober and rational way, showing empathy and responsibility and are at the same time relatively successful, for instance Angela Merkel in Germany, Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand, Sophie Wilmes in Belgium, Sanna Marin in Finland, Katrin Jakobsdotttir in Iceland and Mette Frederiksen in Denmark or Tsai Ing-wen in Taiwan.
In some countries men who are in power often act irrationally and insensitively and, like Donald Trump in the USA, unfortunately are unable to tackle this challenge.
China: Let us start with the negative examples from the world’s greatest surveillance state, China, with over 1.4 billion people. In the “Middle Kingdom” the Corona virus began its “triumphant sweep” around the world. The physician who was the first to discover the virus and publicly warned against the risk, was put in prison. Shortly afterwards he died of the Corona infection. Every dictatorship is afraid of the public. China’s Communist Party tried to conceal the problem, suppress it and keep it secret. In the meantime the Chinese Government several times had to revise the number of victims upwards. And absolutely irresponsible is the reopening of the Wuhan wildlife market as early as 15th April.
USA: Next, the USA under President Donald Trump: As often this President has delivered great speeches instead of acting responsibly in time. Even late in February Trump still maintained Corona would disappear “by itself”. In mid-April we already see a sick country. Social security and the public health system of the world’s strongest military power are facing a catastrophe: Ever longer queues of people waiting for food distribution, coffins in mass graves, 22 million people lost their jobs within four weeks and – the worst is still to come – no more money for the World Health Organisation, WHO. This is nothing but the moral declaration of bankruptcy of a rich and democratic country’s administration.
England: The world’s oldest democracy under the populist and outright Brexiteer Boris Johnson. In the beginning he wanted “herd immunity”. But soon the leader of the pack was trapped himself and needed intensive care. Only then did he address the Corona crisis with some empathy and humility and change his strategy. At least he seems to learn, hopefully.
Brazil: Brazil‘s Bolsonaro, however, still stubbornly persists. Several times he called the Corona infection a “little flu” and, on 15th April dismissed his Minister of Health. Henrique Manretta had contradicted him in public, as a doctor: A little flu? No way! But Bolsonaro prefers performing careless live experiments with 200 million Brazilians instead of listening to medical experts’ advice. A know-all politician, well he’s the president. Not only politicians are infected with the know-it-all attitude, but among politicians it is particularly dangerous. Women in power seem to be less susceptible, as the two photo galleries show. Their selection may not be representative, but it is nevertheless remarkable.
Russia: At the beginning of the crisis Vladimir Putin also reported far fewer infections than there had actually been. Here the threat was also suppressed and kept secret. Only when the rate of infections and mortality could no longer be withheld was some transparency enhanced.
And finally North Korea: The Great Chairman and divine Kim maintained by early April that his country – bordering on highly infected China – was Corona-free. On official photos, however, members of government are seen wearing a mask. All North Koreans were given protective masks overnight. The country’s health system is in a precarious condition.
Military rearmament is more important to Kim than his fellow citizens’ health. Rockets rather than Corona. In the past four weeks he had more missiles tested than ever before. A good way of distracting from internal problems. For about a week now Kim has not repeated his former mantra stating that North Korea was “Corona-free”. Since 12th April “Highest priority to the fight against the Corona virus” has also been officially recognized in North Korea. On 15th April the WHO assumed 709 infections in North Korea.
The economy can be revived after the crisis, but the dead cannot be reawakened
Everywhere politicians who are more interested in the economy than in health care press for rapid easing – in Germany as well. Women’s tactics are more carefuI. Their motto: The economy can be revived after the crisis, but the dead cannot be reawakened
Is the Dalai Lama right, when he demands that the whole world should in future be governed exclusively by women? (Sofia Stril-Rever “The new Appeal of the Dalai Lama to the world – Be Rebels for Peace) Because they are closer to life and more sensitive than men. Fifty-fifty would mean enormous progress: The six ladies in the photos govern little more than 100 million people, the six men, however, more than two billion. The following applies to the times of Corona as well: Feminism is more important than ever.