Women, Power and Politics

September 23rd 2008

Women, Power and Politics: Watch video Are women changing the face of power around the world? Is a new generation of women on the rise? Will they lead differently than men? And will women leaders be a force that changes the world? These are the questions asked by a new one-hour special of the PBS show 'Now' entitled: "Women, Power and Politics: A Rising Tide?"

Maria Hinojosa talks to women leaders around the world for an intimate look at the high-stakes risks, triumphs, and setbacks for women leaders of today and tomorrow. Among these women are President Michelle Bachelet of Chile, the first woman leader in Latin America who did not have a husband precede her as President, and former New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen, now in a tight race for a seat in the U.S. Senate. The show also travels to Rwanda, where women make up nearly half of parliament.

Advice to Generation Next

PBS asked some of today's women leaders to draw on their experience to advise a young generation of women how to gain and keep power. Mary Robinson offers the following advice to aspiring women leaders:

"In my experience, the key to successful leadership is being confident to engage as a woman with all the skills and insights that implies. Trust yourself and your inner voice. Women shouldn't try to exercise power in the same way as a man, but try to be more innovative!

Women leaders are bringing new perspectives to the serious global issues of our time. Building an inclusive process, persistence, consensus-building, and a talent for negotiation are some of the cornerstones of women's leadership. Combined with a willingness to reach across boundaries and apply a human face to difficult issues, women are poised to fill the gaps in national and international leadership.

Networking is key. I am very supportive of more connections and more solidarity among women exercising responsibility. Women tend to exercise leadership in a different way, in a problem solving way. Women mentor and give opportunities to others and view networks as critical to success. Through networks we can exchange experiences and be supportive, and I think that that in itself is important. It can also help us to share information about mobilizing globally."

In 1998, Francis Fukuyama wrote in Foreign Affairs that women's political leadership would bring about a more cooperative and less conflict-prone world ("Women and the Evolution of World Politics," September/October 1998). I challenge young women to test this theory!"

Related Links

The Initiative for Inclusive Security of the Hunt Alternatives Fund recognizes the importance of women in negotiations during times of conflict and violence through research and documentation, partnerships, and training.

She Should Run is a project organized by the Women's Campaign Forum to gather nominations for pro-choice women who they believe should run for public office.

New U.N. Study: More women in politics than ever, account for 18.4% of parliament members worldwide

NewsHour: Livni Narrowly Wins Israeli Election, Becomes country's first female prime minister in 34 years

Women's Issues Resource Sites is a compilation of web sites containing resources and information about women's issues.