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Mothers of invention

What marks the election of two women as presidents of two war-torn countries is the chief reason attributed to their victory.
By HT Correspondent | None
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2006 12:51 AM IST

What marks the election of two women as presidents of two war-torn countries is the chief reason attributed to their victory. “It is the minds of men that make war. Women are the architects of peace,” quoted the New York Times. The mother-figure sentiment seems to have received its stamp of approval across the world. Wonderful as the image of a firm-but-kind mother is, the stereotype still denies women that one heave-ho of perception by which the world will judge their victories by their sheer calibre. Feminist nitpicking, you say? But there is a case that the idea of ‘equality’ is not just about doing away with negative stereotypes but stereotypes positive or negative. It is a mite difficult to imagine any male president or prime minister being voted into power because he makes a nice,er, ‘father figure’.

This patronising bit is doing Chile’s Michelle Bachelet a small wrong as this general’s daughter is well-known for her ‘Western feminist’ style of doing things. Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is an economist and banker. She has served a jail term and was threatened with rape for her political vision. Ms Bachelet was tortured and exiled during General Pinochet’s dictatorship, and it was in her role as (take note) minister of defence that she won national approval. Calling them women of steel would be doing them more justice than tagging them as ‘mothers’.

Here we make a disclosure: we like moms at the helm. They bring out a kinder, gentler side to the ‘ugly business’ of politics. As far as winning polls on the ‘peace-making mom’ plank is concerned, it’s an idea that wins every time round. After all, as the Floyd song goes, ‘she may not let you fly, but she’ll let you sing’.

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