After a tumultuous four years and an election that ended in chaos and attack over the U.S. Capitol, the 46th President of the U.S.A. was finally sworn in last week. While that in itself was a cause for celebration for many, the highlight for many others all over the world, including me, was the swearing in of the first female, first woman of colour as the vice president of the country.
Harris’s appointment is the very definition of breaking the glass ceiling for women wanting to join in politics on higher, executive levels. However, when you actually take a closer look, you will realize that the seemingly developed country has been quite behind when it comes to letting women in to represent in the highest office.
The world’s first elected female leader came from Sri Lanka, way back in 1960. Sirimavo Bandaranaike, was followed by Indira Gandhi in India and Golda Meir in Israel however, the decade saw no other female leaders anywhere else in the world. Since that decade, there have been a little around 90 elected female leaders all over the world. Presently, of the 193 member countries of the United Nations, there are 21 women who are heads of states or governments all around the world. Among these are women from developed countries like New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and also from developing ones like Bangladesh, Nepal, Trinidad and Tobago, according to an interactive published by the Council on Foreign Relations, titled “Women’s Power Index”.
Closer to home here, while Canada has at least had some women represent, there is still much to be done. Canada’s nineteenth Prime Minister in 1993, was Kim Campbell, a woman and the only woman who has held the high office. Canada has had four women hold the position of Governor General, Jeanne Sauvé in 1984, Adrienne Clarkson in 1999, Michaëlle Jean in 2005 and Julie Payette who was the most recent Governor General, until she resigned last week. Yes, there are several women in leadership positions in Canada, even now the Mayors of several towns here in Northern B.C., like Village of Burns Lake, Granisle, Fraser Lake and Smithers are women and several important portfolios in the cabinet are being held by women, we still need more faces, more voices to join politics to represent women.
None of this is to say that this right now, isn’t a milestone; it is, and it is important not just for women in the U.S.A., but women and girls all over the world because everyone witnessing this moment in history will know that anything is possible for women.