Women Leading in a Time of Crisis: Caring Policies Make the Difference

April 13, 2020

In this Forbes article, contributor Avivah Wittenberg-Cox looks at the countries with the best coronavirus responses. What do these countries have in common? Women leaders. These heads of state in Iceland, Germany, New Zealand, Taiwan, Finland, Norway and Denmark have taken decisive and caring measures to successfully protect their country’s citizens from the worst of the pandemic. They are acting within a context of caring, partnership values, and it works.

Caring values, the “soft” or “feminine” values key to a caring economics of partnership or partnerism introduced by Riane Eisler are key to COVID-19 pandemic containment. Women leaders in different world regions are today caring for their nation’s people with sound and caring policies.

Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel told her countrymen the truth about the serious nature of the virus and took immediate action, and began testing early. The number of deaths in Germany are “far below its European neighbors”.

Iceland: Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir is offering free coronavirus testing to all its citizens. They have established an effective tracking system that means they haven’t had to lock down or close schools.

Taiwan: Tsai Ing-wen “managed what CNN has called “among the world’s best” responses, keeping the epidemic under control, still reporting only six deaths”.

New Zealand: Jacinda Ardern used clarity and decisiveness to impose lockdown early, adding strict policies banning foreigners. As of mid-April they have suffered only four deaths.

Finland: Head of State Sanna Marin invites social media influencers of any age to share information and act as primary agents in responding to coronavirus.

Norway: Prime Minister Erna Solberg spoke to Norway’s children on TV. Solberg “held a dedicated press conference where no adults were allowed. She responded to kids’ questions from across the country, taking time to explain why it was OK to feel scared”.

These women leaders are responding to a real crisis with truth, decisiveness, care, empathy, creativity, inclusiveness, and communication with integrity. This shows how partnership systems—the opposite of authoritarian domination systems—can respond proactively and wisely and care for people too.

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