Liz Truss In the UK: Will She Transform the Scene of Women Leaders in the World?

Liz Truss is the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the apparent new “Iron Lady” contributes to the transformation of the horizon for women in power in the world

Liz Truss, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Photo: Information Rights Unit

Latinamerican Post | Luis Angel Hernández Liborio

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Leer en español: Liz Truss en el Reino Unido: ¿Transformará el panorama de las mujeres líderes en el mundo?

Prime Minister Liz Truss's arrival in Downing Street came as no surprise. British politics has been one of the constants throughout the governments of David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson, which made her one of the strong cards to succeed the latter. However, her arrival represents a challenge in the face of the crisis that Johnson unleashed and global problems, but at the same time an optimistic outlook for women in key positions in the world.

Truss, to Correct Johnson's Mistakes

The new prime minister arrives with many challenges ahead, from dealing with the country's internal concerns, such as the economic and energy crisis, to foreign issues such as the war in Ukraine. In addition, she must lead the responsibility of improving the image of the British government after the scandals of her predecessor. Accusations of sexual harassment of someone close to the former prime minister and the annoyance of numerous key names in his government produced a wave of resignations that added weakness to Johnson's position.

Truss must thus recover the trust of the citizens and of Parliament as a whole in order to materialize a government project that is emerging as disciplined and “iron hand”.

Liz Truss, the New "Iron Lady"?

The United Kingdom has an inflation of 10.1% according to data from the British Government. With winter approaching, the cost of energy has multiplied, as in all of Europe, due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Now more than ever, the ravages of Brexit and the pandemic have been felt. Truss managed to convince her party that she had the formula to return the UK to growth. In the spirit of Margaret Thatcher, Truss proposes an ironclad government that will restore confidence and return the numbers to black.

She is the third woman to be prime minister, the second in less than a decade, after Theresa May. Her first international battle will be related to Ukraine. Since the beginning of the war, her country has contributed more than £2.3 billion, and Truss affirms that the United Kingdom will continue to side with the Ukrainians. Last February, the then foreign minister met in Moscow with Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister. The meeting did not reach any serious agreement and made it possible to observe Moscow's attitude towards the now prime minister.

Truss will not have the luxury of showing weakness to Vladimir Putin. Although her country is no longer part of the European Union, when it comes to Russia, the UK continues to show unity with the continent. Without the leadership of Angela Merkel and with the weak attitude shown by Macron, Truss has the opportunity to lead European efforts to consolidate a position that no one has today, least of all among women who are government leaders in Europe.

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Women Leading the World in the Post-Merkel Era

Within the European Union, Ursula von der Leyen, in the European Commission, and Roberta Metsola, in the European Parliament, are the only ones holding high-level positions. At the national level, women are prime ministers in France, Denmark, Estonia, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Lithuania, and Serbia. Georgia and Greece have women as presidents, while Moldova is the only country where the presidency and the head of government are held simultaneously by women.

In none of the continental European powers has a woman held the highest position since Merkel's departure from power. Truss is now the only woman to hold such a position among the military and economic powers. In addition, within the United Kingdom it has Nicola Sturgeon as the first minister of Scotland, although with conflicting political positions.

In America, only Xiomara Castro in Honduras is currently president, although Brazil, Panama, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Chile, Argentina, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Canada have already had women in top positions.

In Africa, three women are prime ministers, in Namibia, Tanzania, Togo, and a president in Tunisia. While in Asia there are also four: three presidents, in India, Nepal and Singapore, in addition to a prime minister in Bangladesh. In Oceania, the case of Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand Prime Minister, who has been acclaimed around the world for the exemplary handling of the pandemic in her country, stands out.

Why Is Still Difficult for Women to Have The Highest Positions?

No woman has been secretary general of the UN or NATO, or the position of greatest power in the United States, Russia, Spain, Japan, or China. In the US case, in the most recent attempt, former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but not the electoral votes needed to win the presidency. The reason for her defeat could be due to a gender reason, but also to criticism of her management as secretary.

However, except for the United Kingdom, most powers have not given a woman the opportunity to govern, something that may be due to gender discrimination and the still few policies to create governments with gender parity. Women have been relegated to ministerial positions, mainly in environmental issues, women, culture and gender identity, but not in defense, finance or foreign affairs. According to the UN, in 2021 only 6% of the 193 countries that make up the organization have a woman in the main position, a gap still far from being removed.

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