For those of us following the World Cup, the past month has been a whirlwind of emotions. For Americans, the World Cup has incited pride in our country, pride in our team, pride in Tim Howard, etc. But we also must acknowledge another kind of pride: pride in global women of power.
Argentina and Germany, the two countries moving on to the finals this Sunday, both have women leaders: President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Chancellor Angela Merkel, respectively. Furthermore, Brazil, the country hosting the World Cup (and competing for third place on Saturday), is also run by a woman, President Dilma Rousseff.
I’m not saying that correlation is causation, but this happy coincidence makes us smile. And its a remarkable confluence of women who have broken the glass ceiling, considering that, as of January 2014, just nine women worldwide were serving as their country’s head of state and 15 as their head of government (according to United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women). The commonly cited number of sovereign countries in the world is 196. You do the math.
Obviously the U.S. is not yet on this short list.
This country also lags behind in electing women to be government representatives. According to Center for American Progress, the world average for the percentage of women in national parliaments is 21 percent—which is higher than the paltry 18 percent average in the U.S. House of Representatives and 20 percent in the Senate. Last time we looked, women make up about 50 percent of the population. Currently, the U.S. is tied with San Marino in 84th place on the list of women in national parliaments. (For more information, see the National Women’s Political Caucus.)
I’m not going to say which team I support in the World Cup finals, but I am glad that unaffiliated fans will be rooting for a woman-led country, no matter what.
Photo of Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (left) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) courtesy of casarosada.gov
Simone Lieban Levine is a rising junior at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and an intern for Ms. Follow her on Twitter: @though_she_be.