Why you should care
A renegade treasurer in Rhode Island, two potential leaders of Syria, an outspoken president, a 13th century reformer and a lady with a bone in her nose: These are women who rule.
In today’s OZY On, we’re sharing a collection of profiles of women who are once and future political leaders around the world. Each of their stories is a powerful example of how the intellect and courage of a single person can reshape the world, and a reminder of how critical it is to unleash more potential by removing the gender barriers that still hold back too many women’s voices. Click through to read the complete article on each of these inspiring leaders.
The modern Arab world has never known a female leader, and against all odds, Syria may be the country where it happens first. Two women have been leaders in the uprising from the beginning: Suhair Atassi and Razan Zaitouneh. Atassi is a prominent opposition leader living abroad; Zaitouneh is an influential human rights lawyer in hiding at home. Both have what it takes to become Syria’s chief executive — that is, if they live long enough to see the current regime fall.
When this Rhode Island Rhodes scholar and Harvard College and Yale Law graduate decided to seek the office of state treasurer, she came with a tough message: Rhode Island is going broke, and reforming state pensions, she declared, is the only way to save it. That straight-shooting message helped her win by a landslide, and her political tactics are bringing her national attention. Next up? A possible run at the governor’s office.
The leader of Norway’s right-wing Progress Party is formidable 44-year-old Siv Jensen, whose tough reputation has a fellow official describing her as a ”lady with a bone in her nose.” Meaning? ”Well, she’s a tough lady,” he says, explaining the traditional idiom. “She knows what she stands for.” With those strong convictions she’s led the Progress Party from the margins of cranky opposition to an unprecedented place in Norway’s next governing coalition. Find out why she may just be Scandanavia’s Margaret Thatcher.
A former rebel and torture victim, the iconoclastic Dilma Rousseff is Brazil’s first female president. When she’s not snubbing President Obama or calling out the NSA, Brazil’s Madam President is overseeing the world’s fifth most populous country and one of its most volatile democracies. Rousseff has been a dedicated public servant, serving as energy minister in the 1990s and eventually as President Lula da Silva’s chief of staff for five years before running for president in 2010. Now she lives in the presidential palace with her mother and aunt, and runs a cabinet that’s more than one-third women.
Her brief reign over 13th century India was remarkable — not because of her gender, but because of her ideas. At the age of 30, Razia Sultana assumed the throne, choosing to wear a man’s tunic and headdress and to unveil her face. She initiated large-scale infrastructure and education projects, and used her position to address tensions between her Muslim and Hindu subjects. Learn more about the reign of the Muslim princess in our Flashback section
Look for more collections of OZY’s most intriguing topics, and let us know what other fascinating ideas and people you’d like to see us cover.