Monday, April 10, 2006

Political rising stars: WOMEN

"Peru faces presidential run-off vote," shouts this morning CNN-IBN Live news headline. I have an interest in world politics, so I dig a little deeper into the body of the article and find the prize.

Yep! Another example of a recent phenomena seeping across the global, political landscape—women running for top government slots AND, many more times than ever before, winning. IBN Live goes on to report that election watchdog Transparencia has Flores with 24.4% of the vote, only 5% behind leading candidate Ollanta Humala and .1% ahead of third place Garcia.

Lourdes Celmira Rosario Flores Nano is a Peruvian politician and lawyer. She currently leads the Unidad Nacional (National Unity) alliance and the Partido Popular Cristiano (Popular Christian Party or PPC) in Peru, which is the most well-known right-of-center party of the country... In 2000, Lourdes Flores led the PPC in joining with the Partido Renovación y el Partido Solidaridad Nacional to form the Unidad Nacional electoral alliance. She ran for president in 2001 on that ticket, but finished in third place by only 1%.

I've been following stories like the one above for over six months after seeing a growing trend and being aware of our own upcoming US elections, with several of our own prominent women being touted in the press as "threatening." In 1950 their was only one elected female leader worldwide, but since 1990 more than 30 women have been elected to lead their respective countries, points out Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria.

Yes, "there's something goin' on out there!"

Michelle Bachelet, Chilean political leader and government official, recently won the nomination of the center-left coalition. Promising political continuity with her post-Pinochet predecessors, she was elected president in 2006, becoming the first woman in Chile to win the office. Facing center-right billionaire businessman and former senator Sebastián Piñera, Bachelet picked-up 53.5% of the vote against center-right billionaire businessman and former senator Sebastián Piñera.

Another interesting story I watched develop near the end of 2005 was the elections in Liberia. Accused of war crimes by the United Nations justice tribunal, hastily departing Charles Taylor left the county up for grabs. So, let the people speak.

On 16 January 2006 Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was sworn in as the president of Liberia, the first woman ever elected head of an African state. Born and educated in Monrovia, she continued her studies in the United States in the 1960s. She studied at the University of Colorado at Boulder and obtained a masters degree from Harvard University, then returned to Liberia and served in the early 1970s as a finance minister for President William Tolbert... After Tolbert was deposed and executed, Sirleaf had an uneasy relationship with his successor, President Samuel K. Doe; to avoid detention, Sirleaf left Liberia and spent most of the '80s in Kenya and the United States as an executive in the international banking community... Called the "iron lady" of Liberian politics, "Ma" Sirleaf returned to Liberia after Taylor fled to Nigeria in 2003.

In Europe political parties are celebrating, too. Already a haven for queens and well-known lady prime ministers, the first female Chancellor of Germany, the first former citizen of the GDR to lead the re-unified Germany and the first woman to lead Germany since it became a modern nation state in 1871 happened all in one day.

Dr. Angela Dorothea Merkel (pronounced /ˈaŋɡela doroˈteːa ˈmɛɐkəl/, born July 17, 1954) is the current Chancellor of Germany. As chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) she leads a coalition with its sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), and with the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). The coalition was formed after two months of negotiations following the 2005 federal election... Merkel, elected to the German Parliament from Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, has been the chairwoman of the CDU since 2000, and Chairwoman of the CDU-CSU parliamentary party group from 2002 to 2005.

And on the Asian front, I read this headline back in March of this year... "South Korean President Nominates New Prime Minister."

Digging deeper, Voice of America goes on to say, "South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun has nominated the person he hopes will become the country's first female prime minister. If confirmed, Han Myung-sook could take the job just weeks before local elections expected to set the tone for the country's political future...
Han Myung-sook, a two-term member of South Korea's legislature, is only the second woman ever to be nominated for the post."

Oh yea... "Something's goin' on out there!"

Sources: Answers.com, CNN-IBN Live and Voice of America.