Female leaders are the driving force behind some of the safest countries during the pandemic.
In this global crisis, we are looking to leaders who handle power in responsive and balanced ways. Who’s currently leading this charge? Women. From smaller countries like Iceland to larger ones such as Germany, these are the women you should know, especially for their intelligence and ability to never back down.
Women make up less than 7% of world leaders, and yet they are managing us all stronger than ever. Perhaps greater gender equality in the future is critical to furthering international security.
*As of April 12, 2020, the European Centre for Disease Control concluded that 3,098 deaths total occurred in the seven following countries combined, numbers that are quite low compared to the rest of the world.
Tsai Ing-Wen – Taiwan
Taiwan has had one of the fastest responses, being one the first countries to realize that drastic measures should be taken as quick as possible before wider devastation occurs. Tsai Ing-wen introduced 124 measures without even sending the country into lockdown (a common thing across the world as of now). After being shunned by the World Health Organization and the country having a population of 24 million people, Taiwan has probably had the most success of any country. Ing-wen immediately ordered all planes arriving to the country to be thoroughly inspected. She has set up an epidemic command center with masks and other personal protective gear. Now, she is even focusing on relief elsewhere, sending 10 million face masks to the United States and countries in Europe. CNN deemed Tsai Ing-wen’s response “among the world’s best.”
Jacinda Ardern – New Zealand
Jacinda Ardern immediately put the country in lockdown and made her decision clear and cohesive. Anybody entering New Zealand was told to self-quarantine, and foreigners were told soon after this to not enter New Zealand. As of now, New Zealanders must quarantine for 14 days if returning, and as of today—April 18th—they have only had 11 deaths.
Angela Merkel – Germany
Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, addressed to her country that the Coronavirus should be taken seriously very early on. Germany jumped at the chance to start testing people at the early stages of the virus, instead of turning to denial or panic like other countries. Germany has conducted over 350,000 tests each week, the largest scale testing for the virus in all of Europe. They also have some of the most intensive care bed units. All in all, Merkel’s approval rating has skyrocketed due to her effective response and action. Due to her quick and effective response, Germany may start decreasing its restrictions, especially since its numbers are much less than its European neighbors.
Mette Frederiksen – Denmark
The Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen chose to close her country’s borders on March 13th. A few days later all schools and universities banned gatherings of more than 10 people. The number of hospital patients being treated for the virus is falling, along with Denmark’s death rates. Frederiksen has built on 3-minute press conferences, addressing questions in a timely and concise manner instead of giving rambling or confusing answers to the public. People are looking up to her for her straight-talk speeches and clear instructions. They even recognize her humor: she posted a video of her singing along to 1980s Danish pop music while doing her dishes in lockdown.
Katrín Jakobsdóttir – Iceland
Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir of Iceland has been offering free Coronavirus testing to all citizens, and many people are watching Iceland as a case study for screenings. 10% of the country has been tested for the virus, a figure much higher than anywhere else. Right now, Iceland has screened five times as many citizens as South Korea. They also have a tracking system for COVID-19 cases, so all schools are still open. Jakobsdóttir has taken measures to protect Iceland’s economy, approving an action plan that allows companies with temporary operational difficulties to submit taxes at a later deadline.
Sanna Marin – Finland
Elected December 2019, Sanna Marin became the world’s youngest head of state. She has used social media influencers to spread factual information grounded in scientific evidence because many people do not read the newspaper. Her approval has risen to 85%, with Finns showing how they support her handling of the pandemic in uneasy times. Paavo Lipponen, the Prime Minister from 1995-2003 said, “She is a very balanced person, focused on the job, with a human touch, but without populism.” Lipponen then added, “I have been greatly impressed by the way the five government parties and their young women leaders have been able to work together. They are all competent, hard-working, solution-oriented politicians.” This millennial leader, Sanna Marin, is changing lives—one concise announcement and one effective decision at a time.
Erna Solberg – Norway
Erna Solberg, Norway’s Prime Minister, is using television to speak to children in the country. She even had a press conference where no adults were allowed, addressing kids’ questions in every form. Solberg said, “It has been special days . . . Many children think it is scary. It is OK to be scared when so many things happen at the same time.” As of now, Solberg has closed a wide range of public and private institutions, including schools, taking drastic measures wisely and upfront.
Overall, female leadership has allowed children and adults to understand that it’s okay to feel scared, and we will get through this united in solidarity. These women offer us empathy, communication, and tenacity unparalleled to other nations. Let us continue to look up to them for their drive and innovation, allowing us to feel comforted and secure during an unprecedented and stressful time.