Women, Politics And Power

Recently I watched with keen interest on CNN as troubled Central Africa Republic (CAR) got a new President. My interest actually was not that the country got a new leader but that the leader is a woman in the person of President Catherine Panza. I asked myself, where are the blood thirsty, gun taunting and greedy men who had killed hundreds and raped hundreds of women and under-aged girls? I took solace in the fact that at least hope is here with Panza and change is on its way with her. Whether she would be able to steer the ship of the crises torn country and give it hope again is another issue entirely. At least you must first of all be a President before rolling out policies of change.

Panza’s emergence reaffirms the hope, faith and believe that like a tsunami, the women are coming into politics with the hope to take over and make a change in the world despite the frustration and marginalization by their male counterparts who have dominated global political scene and led the world into wars, crises, tensions, terrorism, economic meltdowns and recesses, corruption, poverty and unemployment. Though slowly the women are coming and once they fully arrive, the world will not only feel the tsunami in one single swoop but will also witness it and its sweeping effects –changes for the better. The world may not be the same again.

Whether women are better political leaders than men only time will tell but with the performances of the few women the world has witnessed even those that had a short-lived administration talking about the likes of Benazir Bhutto, Corazon Aquino and Indira Gandhi gave the world hope that with more women in politics surely a time will come when these women will change the world and do what the men could not do by making the world a better place for all. But for that satanic colorectal cancer the Philippines leader Corazon Aquino would have led her country to an enviable height following her very transparent diplomatic shuttles around the world all meant to turn around the misfortunes of her country by attracting economic development. Death struck on August 1, 2009 as the 76-yeasr-old passed on as a result of cardio respiratory arrest at Makati Medical Center.

On her part Gandhi like her father (Mahatma) pursued unity and reconciliation between her people and their neighbours Pakistan. She moved to empower women and worked closely with the United Nations on health, agriculture and education. Sadly she died from the several bullet wounds shot at her by her two body guards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh on October 31, 1984 while preparing for an interview with the popular British actor Peter Usinov who was filming a documentary for Irish television.

Another great woman of substance was Benazir Bhutto. Despite her constant preaching of world peace Bhutto was killed while leaving a campaign rally for the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) at Liaquat National Bagh in the run-up to the January 2008 parliamentary elections. After entering her bulletproof vehicle, Bhutto stood up through its sunroof to wave to the crowds. At that point, a gunman fired shots at her, and subsequently explosives were detonated near the vehicle killing approximately 20 people.Bhutto was critically wounded and was rushed to Rawalpindi General Hospital. She was taken into surgery and pronounced dead.

For Margret Thatcher the Iron Lady who was British Prime Minister, she led her country to a ten-week war against Argentina over two British overseas territories in the South Atlantic: the Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. It began on Friday 2 April 1982 when Argentina invaded and occupied the Falkland Islands (and, the following day, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands) in an attempt to establish the sovereignty it has long claimed over them. On 5 April, the British government dispatched a naval task force to engage the Argentine Navy and Air Force before making an amphibious assault on the islands. The conflict lasted 74 days and ended with the Argentine surrender on 14 June 1982, returning the islands to British control. 649 Argentine military personnel, 255 British military personnel and 3 Falkland Islanders died during the hostilities.  Thatcher made history as a woman of war who did what only men could do. Thatcher had her bad side and hard knocks for throwing her weight behind the Apartheid Regime in South Africa yet many political analysts see her as a firm leader that did not toy with the interest of her country nor its economic and political security. It will lead to a debate to suggest that Thatcher was a good leader.

For Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel, the world is already witnessing an economic revolution even as Germany maintains its top role in European and world politics. Germany remains a super-power and Merkel has taken the country’s interests beyond the politics of EU as the United States sees Germany as a stronger ally in global issues. There is no doubting the fact that she has led the country out of the aggressive posture of the post-world war eras to a more progressive and dynamic nation seeking technological breakthroughs with the focus on agricultural discovery to improve the economy.

Back here in Africa, literally, the body language of politicians (especially the male folks) suggests that it is almost a taboo for a woman to emerge as President or Prime Minister. This has grossly affected the women and their attitude towards politics or seeking to hold public offices. Nigeria which is supposed to play the big brother role in this regard in the continent has mostly shown great rejection for women to lead. This has discouraged them from joining or going into politics as we are yet to see a single female or woman governor emerge despite the country gaining independence 54 years ago. The handful of women senators and House of Representatives members got their seats through the skin of their teeth and it is on record that their seats are always under threats in the National Assembly from either their respective governors or power-brokers in the Presidency.

The story of Mrs. Patricia Olubunmi Ette, one time Speaker of the House of Reps who many still believe was a victim of high powered political scheming which exposed and indicted her in the N628m scam meant to be amount for the refurbishment of her home and office.  But that should not deter women from going into politics. With the likes of Hon. Abike Dabiri Eruwa and Senator Oluremi Tinubu in the National Assembly one can only hope that their performance will spur others to join them in what seems to be a movement or political revolution heralding the women as true agents of change.

The Aba riot of 1861which kicked against women paying tax was the first real revolution of women which kicked against the inhumane leadership style of men. Perhaps the emergence of Catherine Panza as President of Central Africa Republic will lead to more revolutions by women coming to power. Already in Africa we have witnessed the presence of Ellen Sirleaf in Liberia. Her courage will further strengthen Panza and others coming after them.

Thoughts of men like Adolf Hitler who led the world into a war further support the argument that the world would be a better place with more women at the helm of affairs. Hitler’s likes are still very much around today. Bashar Al-Assad of Syria whose loyalists used chemical weapons on innocent civilians on August 21, 2013 in an attempt to flush out rebels in their hideouts is a leader. Leaders like Idi Amin of Uganda, Late Moamer Ghadafi of Libya, Late Saddam Hussein of Iraq, Late Mobutu Sese Seko of former Zaire, Late Samuel Doe of Liberia and his compatriot Charles Taylor and Late Pieter Botha of South Africa among others were men whose actions as world leaders left bitter memories in the world now calling for women to come to the rescue.

About Desmond Ekwueme


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