Women Leaders: Trailblazing a Path on Covid-19

Why are women leaders leading better during the coronavirus pandemic? Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson shares her thoughts on a podcast episode of ‘A Sustainable Future’.

There are currently1 14 UN member states with women in the highest position of executive power, representing just 7% of the 193 UN member states. Yet, these women leaders account for half of the top 10 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index Ranking 2020 (Figure 1).

“Women’s leadership – and men who lead in a feminist way – are pointing the way,” according to Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and Adjunct Professor for Climate Justice in Trinity College Dublin and Chair of The Elders. “It’s less hierarchical. It’s more collaborative. It’s more problem-solving. It’s very focused on listening to the concerns of people and address those concerns.”

Figure 1. The Global Gender Gap Index Ranking, 2020

Source: World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020. Countries with women leaders are in green.

And that may be the reasons why “women leaders are leading better out of Covid-19,” Robinson said on a podcast episode of ‘A Sustainable Future’, hosted by Man Group’s Co-Head of Responsible Investment Jason Mitchell. “Look at Angela Merkel in Germany, the prime ministers of Norway, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Jacinda Arden in New Zealand, the President of Taiwan – they have been given credit for having taken tough decisions, caring about their people and actually leading in a way that has their populations trust and follow them. If you have a commitment to equality, it helps in addressing the Covid-19 issue.”

“One of the things that I’ve found extraordinary – and still do – is that when I meet with current or former female presidents and prime ministers at a conference or in green rooms before a conference, we share our problems, our lack of confidence that we are not doing it as well as we might do it. There’s room for improvement,” she said in the podcast. “I never hear these conversations with male leaders, by and large.”

Comments may have been edited and condensed for editorial purposes.

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1. Source: Statista; as of 2 June 2020.

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