18 February 2019
Carrie Lam (R) has been giving mixed signals regarding a potential run for the top job in Hong Kong while her boss and incumbent leader, CY Leung (L), is keeping his cards close to his chest. Photos: HKEJ
Carrie Lam (R) has been giving mixed signals regarding a potential run for the top job in Hong Kong while her boss and incumbent leader, CY Leung (L), is keeping his cards close to his chest. Photos: HKEJ

Women leaders: The turning tide

Let’s accept this fact: the world will be ruled by women.

In the next 12 months, the United States and the United Kingdom are both likely to end up with women leaders, who will make a difference in the world order.

Home Secretary Theresa May has emerged as the hot favorite to take over the reins of Britain by October following David Cameron’s decision to step down in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Outlining the need for “strong, proven leadership to steer us through this period of economic and political uncertainty”, May hopes to capitalize on Britons’ desire for a Margaret Thatcher-like Iron lady at the top.

A strong-willed person is necessary as the post-Brexit era is likely to see some intense negotiations with the European Union.

Meanwhile, across the pond, Hillary Clinton is closing in to take over from her former boss Barack Obama after the November election.

Putting the email-gate controversy behind her, Clinton appears determined to become the first female president in the US.

If there is a common point between Clinton and May, both ladies have waited patiently for the best opportunity to rise to the occasion after earning their political spurs over the years.

We can only imagine what will happen when the tough ladies come head-to-head with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was named Time’s Person of Year in 2015 for her grip over Europe.

So, what explains the rise of women power and the public’s choice of leaders now?

Well, no one would deny their exceptional emotional quotient and determination for success. They are also a no-brainer given rivals such as former London mayor Boris Johnson or realty tycoon and reality show host Donald Trump.

Looking at the world stage, one must however point out the fact that not all female leaders have been successful.

Dilma Rousseff, first woman president of Brazil, which is preparing to host the Summer Olympics, is currently under impeachment for manipulating government accounts.

The rise of women power has also spread to the East.

After the iconic Aung San Suu Kyi gained control of Myanmar government, we have seen Tsai Ing-wen become the first female president in Taiwan.

However, looking at China, there is only one female — Vice Premier Liu Yandong — inside the powerful Politburo.

As for Hong Kong, we have seen a surge of “soft power”, ranging from Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, the always-ambitious legislator and Exco member Regina Ip and rising political star Starry Lee, chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong.

Young women are increasingly opting for political careers, a fact that will be borne out by the candidates in the Legco election in September.

Of the city’s current 70 legislators, only 11 are female. The youngest is Starry Lee, who is aged 42, while the oldest is Chan Yuen-han, who will turn 70 in November.

In future, we can expect the ratio to improve. 

Now, with regard to the prospect of Hong Kong getting a female chief executive next year, Carrie Lam, who had been seen as a potential contender, appears to be keen to turn back the speculation.

At a forum over the weekend, Lam refused to declare if she is interested in running for the top job.

Only time will tell whether Lam will join the CE race or stay away.

But don’t count her out yet amid the global tide of rising woman power.

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Theresa May has emerged as a favorite to take over the reins of Britain after David Cameron steps down following the Brexit vote. Photo: Reuters

EJ Insight writer

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