Are women leaders better at fighting coronavirus?

The world is in awe since New Zeland’s (NZ) Prime Minister Jacinda Arden announces her country to be corona free. Only 22 New Zealanders lost their lives in this pandemic.

Five more countries acted swiftly and decisively and kept their death rates to the lowest. These country includes Taiwan (7 deaths), , Iceland (10), Finland (323), Norway (238) and Germany (8,776).

However, don’t be misled by Germany’s larger number of deaths. Compare to the other four Germany has much larger population. Together, these countries represent the best, most efficient, empathetic and effective responses to the pandemic.

Sint Maarten, a lesser known country somewhere in the islands of the Caribbean. It’s only 34 sq km in size and has a mere 42,844 people, but it’s a full fledged parliamentary representative democracy. Its prime minister is a 51-year-old teacher called Silveria Jacobs.

This little-known dot of an island welcomes 5,00,000 tourists a year. Watching the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world, on March 11 Silveria Jacobs extended travel restrictions from 14 to 21 days. The next day she postponed the Carnival, a major festival that would have attracted thousands.

What do you think is common among these countries? They all are led by women.

Match these against the six worst-hit countries in the world. Trump’s USA, with over 2 million cases and 1,12,469 deaths as of yesterday; Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil, #2 in deaths; Vladimir Putin’s Russia, in third place, followed by Boris Johnson’s UK and Modi’s India.

What does these countries have in common ? They all are led by close minded ideolouges.

Ironically in India where situation is worsten Kerala’s remarkable Health Minister K K Shailaja, has been hailed as the Corona Slayer. As, she reacted early and swiftly, flattening the death curve before it could even take off. Compared to Maharasthra, with 2,969 deaths, Kerala has seen only 15 people die.

Are women better leaders than men when it comes to solving a complex problem like a pandemic? Would we be better off with more women in power?

It’s true that countries like South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and Greece, led by men, have also kept death rates down. And, at least one woman-led country, Belgium, has seen overwhelming deaths.

Dr Zoe Marks, professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, says there’s nothing inherently female about empathetic leadership. Franklin Roosevelt was well-known for his cosy ‘fireside chats’ with America during the depression.

Rosie Campbell, professor of politics at King’s College, London, says that leaders who have displayed humility and vulnerability against the pandemic have proven the most effective.

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