I know you’re thinking about the movie Hotel Rwanda. So, I’m going to assume you know about the civil war between the Hutu and Tutsi people. While that was a very painful movie to watch, what you don’t know is, Rwanda set a very high bar for the rest of the world with their political leaders.
Following the horrific genocide in the 90’s, Rwandan women were forced to rise up and take charge of their government. With almost 1 million citizens dead, 70% of the living population were women. Under the leadership of current president Paul Kagame, the legislation stating that 30% of the parliament had to be occupied by women. Obviously surpassing the rule by a whopping 34%, Rwandan women were able to rebuild their nation when it needed them the most. While many dominant western countries like the United Kingdom and United States have respectively 22% and 16% female presence in government, South Africa, Finland, Tanzania, Cuba, Sweden and Uganda, are ranked top 20 countries in the world with the highest female presence in government.
Over the past few decades, there has been a significant progress in female political leaders ranging from local government, legislatures and even executive ranks. Moving away from the stigma of the traditional responsibilities of women, let’s examine why female leadership is needed to today’s government.
Promote Democracy (whatever that is). According to my history book, democracy is defined as a government “for the people, by the people and of the people.” Maybe back when this definition came about, women were not include in the people but with more ladies becoming academic and financial equals of their male counterparts, its only fair that the female population is involved in the politics, where they can have direct influence on the nation’s welfare. The truth is, no one can talk more about women issues more than women! Disregarding a little over 50% of “the people” is simply a poor reflection of the needs of the population.
Redefines Leadership. Having more female political leaders changes the norm of who should lead and what qualities you must have to be an influential leader. Everyday, more and more women are breaking down cultural and structural barriers — improving leadership around the world and showing everyone what women can achieve.
Women leaders typically have more compassion and empathy, and have a more inclusive approach to negotiating. Of course, this is not the truth for all women, but that further encourages other leadership styles. With that being said, modern ideas of trans formative leadership are more in line with qualities women generally share: empathy, inclusiveness and an open negotiation style.
I am by no means saying that getting women in government will guarantee a 100% solution to the various problems governments face, but it is a crucial step we need to take to accelerate our success and make sure everyone’s voice is heard.