Female leadership is good for the world. Watch Barbados | Mandeep Rai

JThere is a common misconception that the developing world is full of archaic values ​​and women struggle to make their voices heard. The more countries I visit and the more women leaders I talk to, the more convinced I am that the opposite is true.

In fact, those in positions of power around the world could learn important lessons from these strong women when it comes to tackling some of society’s most pressing issues, including pandemics, crisis climate, education and infrastructure.

Of course, successful female leadership in the developing world is nothing new. During her time as Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi was notoriously strong. In Africa, I met the highly respected former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who was recognized as one of Time Magazine’s Top 100 Women of the Year in 2020 for her role in picking up the pieces of a damaged nation when she was elected in 2006.

I write from South America and the Caribbean, having interviewed many women leaders, most recently from Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados. The level of respect for female political and business leaders here is partly due to the fact that they have had to dig deeper to prove themselves, which I believe is one of the keys to their success, especially in times of turbulence.

Since taking office, Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley has changed the face of democracy in the country. She was transparent, spoke out publicly against injustices and created genuine bonds between the countries of the Caribbean. It is hard to overstate what his commitment to collaborate regionally and internationally has done for Barbados, securing investment and developing infrastructure to enable a stable and sustainable economy during the Covid crisis. Countries like Barbados are often not the protagonists, but Mottley has brought issues such as the climate crisis and international development to the forefront of the world stage.

The level of support for Mottley in the region is such that it is not uncommon for the President of Guyana, Irfaan Ali, to wake up at 5 a.m. to cook his famous fish curries and have them delivered by the next flight, as a sign of care. and his support.

I was also struck by the role that a “first lady” can play in sharing leadership. In Suriname, Mellisa Santokhi-Seenacherry has helped ensure that through government policy, no one is left behind. A successful lawyer, she rigorously promoted women’s leadership, empowerment and mental health.

Guyana’s first lady, Arya Ali, brought her family home and back to work. She is committed to inclusiveness, building national programs that support women and girls, people with disabilities and children, and is not afraid to address the difficult issues of domestic violence and rape. . It takes courage and heart – and she has it in abundance.

In other areas, Guyana Annette Arjoon has been widely recognized for her environmental and community work. Arjoon is responsible for establishing one of the country’s first and most successful conservation NGOs, the Guyana Marine Turtle Conservation Society – paving the way for the preservation of the natural environment for future generations.

Trinidad and Tobago has this form of leadership in the private sector – the representation of female CEOs is greater here and in Jamaica than in the United States. Trinidad and Tobago Business Hall of Fame award winner Angela Lee Loy continued to invest in training her employees during Covid and helping them navigate the challenges of working from home, giving parents the opportunity to work around home schooling, for example. “I strongly believe that if their family life needs support, that should also be our domain and our concern,” she says. This approach has certainly paid off. Its staff has remained committed and loyal.

It’s not easy, and there’s never been a linear upward path for women leaders. However, the women highlighted here are bravely forging a path and setting a shining example to the world. The unprecedented disruption of the past two years has put the spotlight on leadership. These women find solutions to pressing global challenges with purpose, passion and people at the forefront, and improve the lives of their communities by harnessing the very qualities that make women leaders successful.

  • Mandeep Rai is the author of The Values ​​Compass: What 101 Countries Teach Us About Purpose, Life and Leadership

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