Women in politics
With Christine Lagarde as the first woman to lead the IMF and Yingluck Shinawatra’s victory in the Thai elections, making her Thailand‘s first woman prime minister this week is dedicated to women in power.
But now there are questions being raised about whether Shinawatra is just a shadow of her brother, Thaskin Shinawatra who was exiled by the military dictatorship that has been ruling Thailand till now.
Will she make a difference to women’s rights and to democracy in Thailand? A question which is relevant to any female head of state — can they make a substantive difference to gender relations in their societies?
At Global Post I recently put together a story on First Female Heads of State across the world. If we’re counting, then Asia makes it to the top with Israel, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan all of whom have had female prime ministers. And now Thailand joins that list.
The more important question again is what does this mean? Is it a benchmark of progress? Or is it simply a by-product of nepotism? Barring Israel all these women have a family lineage in politics, which is where they derive their social stability.
Not to say that these leaders haven’t taken up the cause of women — but with definite caution, because the role of women and democracy is so contested in these regions, it forces these women to tread lightly in the public arena.
In India and Pakistan, the Gandhi and Bhutto legacies live on. However today India has three female chief ministers one of whom is a former Dalit, or lower caste. So perhaps this is our real break through for democracy and women.
So here’s a tribute to those women who are trying to make it to places where no other woman has.For some that may place may be behind the wheel.