‘The world would be a better place if more political leaders were women.’ What is your view?

Source: 2013 GCE A-Level General Paper

How can we approach the question?

First, let us unpack its key assumptions.

  1. There is a lack of female political leaders. Roughly half the world population is female but they are not as well-represented in the political sphere where a majority of leaders are male.
  2. Also, there are some who believe the world would be a better place if more political leaders were women.
    • Even if we disagree with this view, the question requires that we discuss and evaluate the arguments in support of this view.
    • ‘More’ is an important key word. The question is NOT about whether the world would be a better place if some/ all political leaders were female or whether women make better political leaders than men. It is about a greater proportion of women becoming political leaders. How might having more female political leaders make the world a better place.
  3. Next, think about what arguments we could make for or against the view stated in the question.
  • The temptation with questions about gender is to fall back on stereotypes to support one’s arguments. For example, one might argue that women are more nurturing and peace loving than men and if more political leaders were women, the world might be a more peaceful place than it is today. While such arguments may be relevant to the essay in that they reflect the reasons why some people think there should be more female political leaders, to agree with such arguments would be too simplistic. Female political leaders are not necessarily less aggressive than male ones. Hillary Clinton’s stance on foreign policy, for instance, is more aggressive than that of Obama and in fact, most Democrats. Acknowledge that women are perceived to have certain qualities lacking in men that make them better political leaders (e.g. Better listening skills, better ability to negotiate, more caring) but point out how these are stereotypes without much basis and that real-life examples of female political leaders prove this to be so.
  • A more reasonable argument one could make for having more female political leaders would be that there is insufficient representation today that needs to be remedied. A better world is one where different segments of society are fairly representation in our governments and able to have a say in how the world is run. It is no surprise that in our world where most political leaders are male, women are often lagging behind men in many areas such as access to adequate healthcare, education and job opportunities especially in positions of leadership.
  • Can we argue that the world might not be a better place if there were more female political leaders? Absolutely! Gender is not a determinant of how suitable one is to be a political leader. Rather, we should consider relevant traits such as integrity, honesty and compassion. If more political leaders had such traits, the world would be a better place, regardless of their gender.

4. Last, think about how you can make your essay on this question stand out.

  • A range of historical/ timely and relevant examples of female political leaders from across the globe. Some examples you might mention include Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton, Aung San Suu Kyi, Park Geum-hye, Tsai Ing-Wen.
  • When discussing how the world might be a better place, articulate this clearly. Are we talking about the social/ political/ economic impact of having more female political leaders? The possibility of greater international cooperation and less global conflict?
  • Contextualise the question and your essay.a. You could discuss how the 2016 US presidential race has shed light on how misogyny is still very much a part of mainstream culture and needs to be countered. (Consider Trump’s various sexual harassment scandals and questionable comments and the higher standards that Clinton seems to hold to as a female political candidate.) Having more female political leaders is arguably part of the solution.b. You might reflect, in your conclusion, on how other groups that are underrepresented (racial minorities, for example) need to take on political leadership for the world to be a better place. If you agree with the view in the question, you might also discuss how we could create more opportunities for women to become political leaders.

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