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Women's Leadership

President Joe Biden’s decision to end his reelection bid and endorse Vice President Kamala Harris to replace him in the campaign has upended the presidential race and shined a renewed spotlight on Harris.

Her career path from prosecutor to politician has been defined by many firsts: She was the nation’s first Indian American senator and California’s first female and South Asian attorney general. Harris is the first woman to become vice president, as well as the first Black or Asian American person to hold the office.

Now, as momentum builds to position her as the Democratic Party’s 2024 presidential nominee, Harris could be on the cusp of becoming the country’s first female president.

Here’s what to know about Harris’ life and the moments that defined her in politics.

Read here the full article published by CNN on 22 July 2024.

Image by CNN


WASHINGTON (AP) — She’s already broken barriers, and now Kamala Harris could shatter several more after President Joe Biden abruptly ended his reelection bid and endorsed her.

Biden announced Sunday that he was stepping aside after a disastrous debate performance catalyzed fears that the 81-year-old was too frail for a second term.

Harris is the first woman, Black person and person of South Asian descent to serve as vice president. If she becomes the Democratic nominee and defeats Republican candidate Donald Trump in November, she would be the first woman to serve as president.

Biden said Sunday that choosing Harris as his running mate was “the best decision I’ve made” and endorsed her as his successor.

“Democrats — it’s time to come together and beat Trump,” he wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. “Let’s do this.”

Harris described Biden’s decision to step aside as a “selfless and patriotic act,” saying he was “putting the American people and our country above everything else.”

“I am honored to have the President’s endorsement and my intention is to earn and win this nomination,” Harris said. “Over the past year, I have traveled across the country, talking with Americans about the clear choice in this momentous election.”

Read here the full article published by PBS News on 22 July 2024.

Image by PBS News


Less than four months out from the election, Vice-President Kamala Harris found herself in a difficult position.

President Joe Biden's poor performance on the debate stage spurred mounting criticism about his ability to win the election. As anxiety turned to tension within the Democratic party, her name rose up the list of replacement candidates.

With Mr Biden’s announcement that he will be ending his campaign and putting his support behind her, Ms Harris has finally reached a position she’d long sought: the top of the Democratic ticket, and potentially the presidency.

But the journey there has been fraught and full of difficult questions, especially in recent months.

Four years ago, the one-time candidate for the Democratic nomination would have welcomed the party's praises. By July 2024, Harris was in a more precarious position as part of an embattled incumbent ticket, her chances of another term tethered to Mr Biden’s performance.

In the 24 hours after the debate debacle, Ms Harris chose strong loyalty to Mr Biden.

The vice-president spoke on CNN, MSNBC and at a campaign rally. She defended her political partner's record and attacked their opponent, former President Donald Trump.

Read here the full article published by the BBC on 21 July 2024.

Image by BBC


In the run-up to Brazil’s municipal elections, FGV Press has just published an intense and long book featuring the moving stories of a hundred Brazilian women from all over the country who decided to tackle various obstacles and fight for a place in politics.

According to the book, Brazil is currently one of the worst countries in the world when it comes to the presence of women in politics, and the worst in Latin America. Despite often having a minimal chance of success, every two years a huge number of women run for office. They include teachers, small businesswomen, police officers and community leaders, who learn to balance politics with work and family life. They invest a lot of time and energy in this endeavor, but only a handful manage to get elected. As a result, just 17.7% of seats in the House of Representatives are currently held by women and 82.3% are held by men. In practice, men end up making the decisions in all areas, including those that concern women.

Concerned about this huge under-representation of women, Malu Gatto of University College London and Débora Thomé of Fundação Getulio Vargas, both of whom have doctorates in politics, set out in search of answers to try to understand what was happening to women and their struggles to get elected. In the 2020 and 2022 elections, they went out into the field to ask them what made them run for office, how they experienced this process, what types of violence they had faced and what their strategies were for getting along better with their parties.

Based on 188 interviews with 102 candidates (79 women and 23 men) and official data from the Superior Electoral Court, their book, “Candidatas: os primeiros passos das mulheres na política do Brasil” (“Female candidates: Women’s first steps in Brazilian politics”), published by FGV Press, draws on the academic literature to analyze evidence extracted directly from the voices of the protagonists of these stories. It presents the experiences of empowered black, white, young and old women, from all regions of the country and from all parties, with very different backgrounds. Moreover, the book presents the voices of these women. Divided into 10 chapters, it covers everything from the initial factors that make them run for office, their choice of party and relationship with it, election campaigns, political violence, post-election moments, and what happens when they are elected.

Read here the full article published by FGV Brazil on 22 July 2024.

Image by FGV Brazil


Luena — The ombudswoman, Florbela Araújo, highlighted, this Thursday, in Luena, Moxico province, the presence and leadership of women in the country, which is 'in great development'.

Speaking at a lecture on the 'role of the ombudsperson as a defender of women's rights', at the Casa da Cultura do Luena, the official said that today women are demonstrating that they have the physical and intellectual capacities to occupy decision-making positions.

According to the ombudsperson, the President of the Republic, as the Holder of the Executive Power, has been concerned with increasing the presence of women in decision-making positions at all levels, in the Executive, Judicial and Legislative branches.

He reiterated that women are the driving force to leverage a better world, far from the 'such and glaring' gender inequality that has been verified, so there is a need to empower them, as one of the ways to develop an increasingly just society.

He called on women to tirelessly continue to fulfill their role in society, as a way to contribute to the development of an increasingly just and good nation to live in.

Read here the full article published by All Africa on 19 July 2024.

Image by All Africa


STRASBOURG — The European Parliament elected Ursula von der Leyen for another five years as European Commission president, choosing stability and continuity for the EU’s most powerful institution and the bloc.

Von der Leyen, who hails from the centre-right European People’s Party, won 401 votes in a secret ballot, well above the 361 votes she needed to be elected. There were 284 votes in opposition, 15 abstentions and 7 votes declared invalid.

Von der Leyen had the backing of the three mainstream, pro-EU groups — the center-right European People’s Party, the Socialists and the liberals of Renew. In the weeks and months leading up to the vote, some lawmakers within those centrist groups said they would not vote for her, forcing her to look for support from outside her current coalition, including among the left-leaning Greens. 

Now that von der Leyen has the support of both the European Council and the European Parliament, she will begin to assemble her new European Commission. 

Read here the full article published by Politico on 18 July 2024.

Image by Politico


São Paulo witnessed a historic change in the 2020 municipal electionsFour Black women were elected as councillors — over 72 years, the capital of São Paulo state has elected only six Black women councillors in total. 

However, the proportion of women among the 55 members of the City Council — the largest in Brazil — is still below that of the general population. In São Paulo, for every 10 councillors, two are women. When taking into account all of the metropolitan region, the average falls to one woman councillor for every 10 deputies in the town halls.

When looking at municipal councils, the situation seems even more difficult: only three of the 39 cities in Greater São Paulo have women mayors.

According to the platform TSE Women, of the High Electoral Court, women comprise more than half (52 percent) of the electorate in Brazil. However, the number of votes won by women candidates between 2016 and 2022 was 33 percent, with 15 percent of them being elected. 

A few months before new elections in the 5,565 Brazilian municipalities, scheduled for next October, Agência Mural talked to councillors, community leaders, and experts about why it is so difficult for women, especially from peripheral, poorer areas, to enter institutional politics, and also about the journeys of those who were elected.

Read here the full article published by Global Voices on 18 June 2024.

Image by Global Voices


The Global Gender Gap Index annually benchmarks the current state and evolution of gender parity across four key dimensions (Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment). It is the longest-standing index tracking the progress of numerous countries’ efforts towards closing these gaps over time since its inception in 2006.

Read here the full report published by the World Economic Forum on 11 June 2024.

Image by WEF


Progress towards legal gender equality has stalled in many parts of the world. The data published earlier this year by Women, Business, and the Law report reveals that women, on average, have less than two-thirds of the legal protections that men have, down from a previous estimate of just over three-quarters. This stark reality is a sobering reminder of the challenges that still lie ahead.

For example, the absence of legislation prohibiting sexual harassment in public spaces, such as mass transit, hampers women's ability to access employment opportunities and fully participate in the workforce. The lack of services and financing for parents with young children places a disproportionate burden on women. Furthermore, the effectiveness of gender-sensitive legislation is often undermined by inadequate enforcement mechanisms. In many regions, women's limited political clout fuels a self-perpetuating cycle of restricted legal rights and reduced economic empowerment.

Recognizing the importance of women's representation in political leadership, the World Bank, represented by the Women Business and the Law (WBL) report, Women Political Leaders (WPL), and the Oliver Wyman Forum (OWF), have joined forces to address the challenges faced by women in political leadership positions. Our collaborative efforts under the Representation Matters program aim to foster women’s participation in decision-making positions, and to promote legal equality and economic opportunities not only for women, but for everyone.

The initiative comes at a critical time. Achieving equal opportunity is not only a fundamental human right for half of the world's population; it is also an opportunity to drive faster economic growth, fostering prosperity for all.

Read here the full article published by The World Bank on 14 May on 2024.

Image by The World Bank


Pursuing gender equality remains a significant challenge in the 21st century. Despite notable advancements in fields such as education, healthcare, and economic engagement, there remains a persistent disparity in the representation of women in leadership positions across various industries. This disparity not only hinders the optimal utilisation of the labour force but also restricts societal progress. Existing evaluation criteria often prove inadequate as they fail to account for the intricacies of women's leadership trajectories, particularly in the Global South nations. To bridge this divide, a comprehensive quantitative approach that delves into the nuances of female leadership and empowerment is imperative.

Reimagining gender indices

Several well-established indices have been crucial in assessing advancements in gender equality. The Global Gender Gap Index by the World Economic Forum and the Gender Inequality Index by the UNDP offer essential insights into various areas, including economic participation and political representation. Initiatives like the Women's Empowerment Principles by UN Women and the Women, Peace, and Security Index by Georgetown Institute shed light on specific facets of women's rights and inclusion. However, these measures often prioritise a limited number of indicators, primarily concentrating on outcome-driven data.

Read here the full article published by the Observer Research Foundation on 30 April 2024.

Image by Observer Research Foundation


Tracking the number of women in elective office represents only one measure of political power, two Rutgers University researchers told the 2024 National Press Foundation Women in Politics Fellowship.

They say entrenched inequities persist in legislative leadership, fundraising, and the outsized influence of unelected gatekeepers.

“We know that keeping track of women’s political representation, specifically the numbers of women in elective office, is just one piece of a larger puzzle to understanding and addressing disparities in women’s political power,” said Kelly Dittmar, associate professor of political science and director of research Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

Read here the full article published by National Press Foundation on 25 April 2024.

Image by National Press Foundation


It’s 2024, but power still looks like a man. Despite Australia’s claim to egalitarianism, achieving equal political participation and representation remains a formidable challenge for women. Concerningly, the persistent and ingrained obstacles in women’s way are affecting the aspirations of the next generation of female leaders.

According to 2022 research spanning 29 countries, including Australia, satisfaction among young females aged 15-24 with their leaders’ decisions on issues they care about stands at a mere 11%. An overwhelming 97% acknowledged the importance of political participation. Yet, only 24% of those aspiring to engage in politics could see themselves running for office.

Worse still, 20% have been personally discouraged from political involvement. This is often because they’re either considered to be less qualified or that they will inevitably face discrimination and gendered violence.

I crunched the numbers to assess the situation in Australia. While much has been said about the mistreatment of female leaders, how does this play into the psyche of female constituents?

Read here the full article published by The Conversation on 7 March 2024.

Image source: The Conversation.