Let the Women take charge

Posted by on April 27, 2020 in Blog, Covid-19, Dame designate, Health, Medical, Rants, women scientists | 2 comments

Angela Merkel/Junge Union Deutschlands

One of the lines of discussion currently raging nearly as strongly as the pandemic itself is the issue of how in the majority of cases the countries with women leaders have managed – at this stage – to have controlled Covid-19 relatively successfully in their respective countries.

Angela Merkel is one such woman leader. While our ineffective chaps bleat from a wooden lectern at no. 10, apparently making numbers and targets up as they go, darling Mutti has, as ever, worked from a completely different rule book. Fortunately for Germany, they do not have representatives from a highly dubious ‘Nudge Unit’ influencing their life or death decisions on how best to look after German citizens. Instead, Merkel has used her scientific background to make policy and practice that is consistent and has resulted in markedly fewer deaths than in the UK.

Then there’s wonderful Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand. Many years ago some close friends moved there from the UK to follow career opportunities. I did not envy them then, but I do now. Instead of paternalistic sermons along the lines of ‘now do as I say Thompson, I’m the school prefect and you’re just a first year’, the Kiwis’ Prime Minister imposed a lockdown supported by testing and contact tracing. She gives briefings from her sofa at home, and with her you could really trust that ‘we’re all in it together’.  To reinforce that message, Ardern has opted to take a 20% pay cut so that she too is sharing the conditions that apply to her electorate.

Ardern closed the country’s borders before lockdown.  At the time of writing here in the UK you can still arrive from anywhere in the world and head off without any follow up as to where you have come from and whether you just might be contagious..

Moving back to the northern hemisphere, take a moment to look at Denmark’s Mette Frederiksen. She also closed the country’s borders before instigating a lockdown. Now I know New Zealand and Denmark have tiny populations in comparison with the UK, but to my pragmatic mind would that not have been even more of a reason to control the flow of people? Just asking.

Nicola Sturgeon/AP Photo/Kin Cheung

Actually you don’t even have to leave the UK to find an example of a woman prepared to treat people as grownups rather than children who must be seen and not heard. Just the other day, Nicola Sturgeon spoke frankly about the need to inform and engage the public in a mature, non-prescriptive way in the discussion about how the lockdown will be eased.  This is in marked contrast to the Government’s expressed assumption that if they even mention the concept of easing the lockdown we will all rush out and form large shouty groups and do our level best to spread the virus to everyone.

What’s good for the Scots, I say, is good for the rest of us. There is of course another fundamental difference between Ms Sturgeon and the likes of Boris Johnson; the former had a good Scottish state education. The latter went to Eton, that bastion of privilege where you are taught that you are intrinsically better than other people, know better than them, and certainly do not need to treat them as equals.

I just hope that when there is an enquiry into the Government’s handling of this crisis that it is led by a woman.


  1. I’ve noted this correlation between countries led by women who have a better handling of the crisis. It certainly makes sense.
    I had to smile, Barbara, at the thought of us all rushing out in’ large shouty groups’ and spreading the virus with group hugging and more. . .
    Yes let’s hope at the end of all this the enquiry is led by a dame!

    • And let’s look forward to a group hug at some point in the future!

      Dame B

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