Under threat

Rise of the ‘strongman’: World’s top women leaders issue dire warning about threat to women’s rights

Former Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra. (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

More than 30 of the world’s top women leaders have signed onto a letter to condemn growing movements that aim to rollback women’s rights — especially in countries where populism has enabled the rise of “a macho-type strongman” leader.

Distinguished leaders such as former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark, Ethiopian president Sahle-Work Zewde, former Irish president Mary Robinson, Bulgarian politician Irina Bokova, and former Argentinian foreign minister Susana Malcorra all signed onto a letter that called out efforts to “halt the gains made and erode the rights won by women.” Naming themselves as a “Group of Women Leaders for Change and Inclusion,” the leaders explained that they had joined together “to underscore that the risk posed by politics that seek to halt and erode gender equality is a risk not only to women, but also to all of humanity because half the population is prevented from contributing to its full potential.”

According to Malcorra, the rise of strongmen in countries such as Brazil, the Philippines, and Italy was enabled in part by men and male-dominated pockets of power that feel “threatened by women gaining respect.”

“It’s a proposition where, if men get paternity leave for example, it’s not that they lose anything, they gain by having responsibility for the family, they gain by a closer relationship with the children, that’s not zero sum, that’s a win-win,” she explained. “But it’s clear that there are corners of power in the world that don’t see it like that.”

If women weren’t “very prepared to fight back,” she warned, they might find their hard-fought rights stripped from them before they even knew to react. In the U.S., she noted, abortion rights for women, which were established more than 40 years ago, now face the risk of being revoked in the coming years.

“We are worried that we take for granted what we have,” said Malcorra. “That, in our view, is our biggest weakness.”

Read the full letter below:

Open letter from women lead… by on Scribd

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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