International Women’s Day commemorates women leaders but acknowledges severe gender inequality

March 8, or International Women’s Day, is a day to highlight, acknowledge and support the women and girls that put their lives on the line to make the world a better place. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a dire health and economic disaster that is still ongoing, women have been at the forefront and holding the entire system together. 

With more families working at home, more people dying in hospitals, and more businesses adapting to social changes through online platforms, women’s leadership has been an essential and effective part of the world getting back on its feet. 

Studies have shown that women lead differently. During the COVID-19 crisis, women’s unique leadership has been an astounding show of a heavy focus on protecting lives, trusting science, and being sympathetic to individual struggles on the ground. For countries where the COVID-19 rates have been best mitigated, like Germany, Finland, Denmark, Taiwan, and Iceland, there has been one linking similarity: they all have women leaders. 

Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, addressed her countrymen early and severely posing that the virus was “serious”, issuing a strict stay-at-home order as soon as March 16th, 2020. Meanwhile, in the US, only 19 of 50 US states issued a stay-at-home order by March 23rd.

Tsai Ing-wen, President of Taiwan, introduced 124 measures to mitigate the spread of the virus without having to do lockdowns and even sent 10 million face masks to the U.S. and Europe. What a show-off.

On average, countries simply do better with women leaders. Across the board, when women are in government, there is a larger investment in social protection and poverty recovery. 

Still, International Women’s Day needs to be a day where we fight to end the gap in gender equality. Women still make up a mere quarter of national legislators worldwide, a third of local government members, and one-fifth of cabinet ministers. The way women’s representation is going, we may not see fair and equal representation until 2063, and we cannot afford that. 

With catastrophic issues on our hands like warfare, climate change, health pandemics, and poverty, the world needs more women at the leadership table putting people in the right and sustainable direction. 

If more Americans can shift the mindset to raise public awareness of discriminatory laws and informal sexist social practices, we can set up a better foundation for the next generation to fight for better lives for everyone. 

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