Despite claims of widespread emancipation, women generally remain disempowered in both key fields, politics and economy. Women’s considerable educational and professional achievements have paradoxically enabled only minorities among them to reach the status of decision-makers on the same footing as men. Equal power opportunities are not commonly applied in societies regardless of their ideologies, religions, race, culture, or economic system. Patriarchal societies confiscate women’s rights, and thus deprive half the society of its right to governance. In fact, the number of current female heads of state or government, not considering monarchs or figurehead leaders, represents less than 10% of the total of 193 UN member states.
According to the World Economic Forum (2014 and 2016), the number of female leaders around the world has increased since 1964 and is still on the rise. All the same, the figures remain relatively low in comparison with the number of male leaders. Only 56 nations out of 146 around the world have had female leaders holding positions such as head of state or head of government. Nevertheless, in many cases these important positions are held by women only for a short period of time. In other words, though women run as heads of state or heads of government, they hardly complete their term. For instance, out of the 31 countries having prominent female politicians, ten of these—namely Mauritus, Nepal and Poland—have had female leaders in office for only one year. Some other cases are even more surprising. According to the Pew Research Center Analysis, Ecuador and Madagascar have had women leaders in office for only two days. In South Africa, on September 24,2008, Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri became head of state and head of government for a one-day term, to be replaced the following day by Kgalema Motlanthe. In the three cases, male presidents took over. Even in developed countries, women are still struggling for power. For example, Canada’s first and only female prime minister, Kim Campbell, served no more than a four-month term.
In fact, in a world that primarily functions according to male standards, women are not entitled to the same degree of authority. Ironically enough, they have been indirectly influential with regard to many crucial decisions that are apparently taken by men. In many regimes, the wives of absolute rulers are able to influence their husbands’ policy, and hence, they produce a major impact on state affairs. In this way, wives may be behind important State decisions, like appointing officials, dismissing, promoting, or also sending others to jail. This indirect power is mostly effective in autocracies where power abuses are met with impunity. However, this type of indirect power can easily backfire on women. History provides examples of women who underwent the harsh consequences of their contribution to abuse, like Jovanka Broz Tito and Jian Qing. Other wives of presidents are partly responsible for precipitating the downfall of their husbands, like Imelda Marcos in Philippines, or Leila Ben Ali in Tunisia.
Women’s wish to play leading roles within social, political, or economic structures stands as one of their first ambitions. All the same, when those who reach power are not victims of gender inequality, they are still the target of fatal violence in some parts of the world. Perhaps, the assassination of Indira Gandhi best illustrates some countries’ hostility to women’s rule. The experience of Indira Gandhi in power is one of the most significant political struggles in world history, as it shows the prepotency of males over females. When females insist on being decision makers and refuse to be manipulated, male-controlled lobbies show their aggressive side. A similar fate is met by Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, which can tell a lot. She promised to improve women’s economic situation, and she would have gone far into fulfilling her promise, had not it she been killed. The story of Corazon Aquino, however, shows how the female is still dependent on the male. Corazon Aquino, the first female president of Philippines, took power in 1986 after the death of her husband. Had not it been for his appalling end, she would have never sought to be president. Besides, during her term, which lasted 6 years and 4 months, she did not manage to establish political stability. She came up against seven military coups, which failed thanks to General Fidel Valdez Ramos, who nonetheless replaced her in 1992.The cited cases prove a significant point in relation to women’s leadership. The success of their careers proves to be dependent on democracy, as the close observation of the Western world shows. Multiple examples of successful female figures in the West show the extent to which genuine democracy, the rule of law, and the strong belief in gender equality benefit women’s active role within their societies. For this objective to be reached, a general commitment is required from men and women and from all the country’s institutions.