While the world is struggling to deal with coronavirus and the hellish situation called a pandemic, some nations have stepped up their game. And one thing all these nations have in common is their women leaders at the helm. Saving a nation's population and complex supply chain and the economy is no easy task. Women leaders of Nordic nations and New Zealand have done an excellent job at it while nations like the United States of America and the United Kingdom, whose task force is mostly men, are struggling.
Former American president Barack Obama once said that if every country in the world were led by women, the world would be a better place. He believed that women are better leaders than men and women could solve many existing issues.
The challenges brought by the pandemic and lockdown are proving his words to be true. The measures taken by Jacinda Ardern made New Zealand be the first nation to get back to normalcy. These women have shown exceptional courage and ability to build trust and alleviate fears. They have also anticipated the worst outcome and prepared for it. More than anything, these leaders have succeeded in educating and guiding the entire population to safety.
Here are some women leaders who fought COVID-19 with grace.
The 40th Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern rose to worldwide popularity after the Christchurch mosque shootings. Her empathetic reaction to the Muslim population and quick reaction to change gun laws were praised internationally. Ardern hasn't disappointed in containing the coronavirus either.
Ardern closed borders for 14 days on March 15, 2020, as soon as the first cases were reported. Five days later, she moved New Zealand to alert level 4 and imposed a nationwide lockdown.
The nation is returning to normalcy with few active COVID-19 cases at the moment. Ardern has taken strict measures for people entering the country through any means. A 14-day quarantine and blood test is required for everyone.
While European nations like France and Italy were hit bad with the pandemic, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been leading the nation with composure and rationality. Her scientific background and expertise in putting facts together have certainly paid off. Historian Eva Schlotheuber described the chancellor as "one politician is less a commander in chief and more a scientist in chief".
Germany is also fighting a relatively successful battle against COVID-19. Merkel is known for being well-respected and implementing a coordinated system of scientific and medical expertise distributed across the country. The public's trust in her sensible leadership style also worked against the pandemic.
The president of Taiwan Tsai Ing-wen is the first woman to be elected to the office. She is a revolutionary for Taiwanese public as she is the first unmarried president as well. Tsai was first elected in 2016 and re-elected with an increased share of the vote in 2020.
The president says that Taiwanese is a resilient population that has learnt to adapt and cope and survive through centuries of hardships. The nation prevented a major outbreak with combined efforts by the government, private sector, and society under Tsai’s guidance. The nation learnt the aftermath of a virus outbreak the hard way in 2003 when the SARS outbreak took dozens of lives. Tsai Ing-wen implemented highly effective testing and tracing programmes.
Danish politician Matte Frederiksen was elected as the Prime Minister in 2019 and she is the youngest one in the history of the nation. She has also served as the leader of the opposition.
She made headlines when US President Donald Trump took an interest in buying Greenland, an autonomous territory to Denmark. The possibility was dismissed by the Premier of Greenland, Kim Kielsen. Frederiksen commented saying that "Greenland is not Danish. Greenland belongs to Greenland". She also called the discussion absurd which led to Trump cancelling a state visit due to her refusal to discuss a possible sale.
Denmark was the first among European nations to introduce lockdown measures. While the country was relatively hit hard, the resources were carefully utilised by the government. Measures to reduce the economic impact are being discussed early as well.
Katrin Jakobsdottir has been serving as the Prime Minister of Iceland since 2017. She is the second female prime minister of Iceland and she was named as the Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders in February 2020. The Icelandic PM is also sticking to the theme followed by other women leaders - swiftness of the response.
Jakobsdottir's rapid response played a crucial role in keeping the death toll under 600. Aggressive testing-tracing programmes were implemented in a combined effort with a biopharma firm - deCode genetics to avoid strict lockdowns. Iceland opened up to tourists on June 15 and tour companies are even offering to test travellers for COVID-19 instead of spending 14 days in quarantine.
Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg is lovingly called "Iron Erma" by the public. She has been serving the Norwegian public since 1989. Solberg was first elected as PM in 2013 and re-elected in 2017. She is currently the longest-serving Prime Minister of Norway.
Solberg was praised for her strong yet compassionate approach towards fighting COVID-19. She even addressed the children, in particular, to assure them about the current state and answered their questions. She told the children that it is okay to feel scared during the "special days" of the pandemic.
She addressed the children of Norway along with the minister of education as well as family and children. The trio answered questions like 'how long does it take to make a vaccine?', 'what can I do to help?', 'Can I visit my grandparents after going to a shopping centre?', and 'Can I have a birthday party?'.
Sanna Marin made headlines in 2019 for becoming the youngest-ever Prime Minister of Finland. She is known for being the second-youngest serving state leader and the youngest female state leader. Marin is leading a coalition government of five parties, all headed by women.
Marin's cabinet was quick to evoke the state of emergency in the nation to put an end to the coronavirus outbreak. In a recent poll, 85% of the Finnish public said they are happy with the way the PM is handling the pandemic. Even those who criticised Marin and her cabinet for being filled with 30-something women said that the government has really stepped up.