Women are increasingly holding power in politics - being elected as MPs, presidents and prime ministers around the world. The Inter-Parliamentary Union's latest study of gender proportions in Parliament says that the proportion of women politicians has jumped from 11% to nearly 17%. NZ is one of the more advanced nations in this respect, with 33% of the Parliament composed of women (40 out of 121 MPs). Sadly, our Pacific Island neighbours have the lowest proportion in the world - about 3%. In contrast, Rwanda and Sweden have nearly 50%.
A recent article in the UK's Sunday Times posed the question of whether the future is female. It noted that alongside women either being president or presiding over parliaments in NZ, Germany, Chile, and Finland, there's a decent chance that the next leaders of the US and France will also be women. They say that this is part of 'a decades-long process of post-war empowerment', and many feminists are excited by the prospects of women running the world. Women now preside over 35 of the world's parliaments.
While it's a good thing that there is increasing equality of opportunity, it still seems to be a bad idea to prefer a candidate over other because of their gender. From a progressive or leftwing point of view, the track record of female leaders isn't exactly much better than that of their male counterparts, and I've got no great desire to live under the rule of awful past leaders/warmongers like Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, and Margaret Thatcher (to say nothing of Jenny Shipley and Helen Clark). To me the political programme of the candidate will always be the central measure. And on that issue, George W Bush has been one of the worst for women. See, for example, the New Statesman article, Bush's war on women.