Imagine what it is like to make decisions on which the lives of millions of people depend; or that could shut down businesses, spike the unemployment rate and lead your country straight into an economic depression. Scary, isn’t it? Well currently, world leaders are in a tight place making such historic decisions.

Most of the powerful countries, even with the best of resources, are grappling to contain the overhauling spread of coronavirus. This has raised serious questions about the efficacy of political leaders in handling the crises at hand. On the other hand, statistics overwhelmingly show that women-led countries like Taiwan, New Zealand, Germany, Denmark and others have done better in combating COVID. So, what did these leaders do differently?

These women leaders exhibited alternative leadership style such as –acting promptly, engaging in clear and transparent communication, relying on the experts, being empathetic and giving a sense of oneness to their citizens amongst other things. Today, experts across the globe are applauding these women for their phenomenal leadership style and for breaking the political patriarchal stereotypes.

Here is a glimpse into the strategies implemented by these women-led countries that did better than the rest in dealing with the pandemic:  

Taiwan  

Taiwan is a rare country which fought COVID without the need for a nationwide lockdown. A while ago, the country had a first-hand experience with a respiratory virus known as SARS. And since then there was a plan in place, which involved quarantines, contact tracing and wide availability of masks.

With nearly 24 million citizens, Taiwan only has had about 495 cases and 7 fatalities. Whereas Florida, in the US, with almost the same population has had more than 6,50,000 cases with around 11,100 fatalities and is still struggling.  

Tsai Ing-wen, the first female president of Taiwan, with her authoritative yet warm leadership style has won plaudits not just from the citizens but also from her political opponents.

New Zealand

The Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, leaned on a simple strategy “Go hard, go early and don’t stop until you stop the virus”.

In February, the government banned entry from or via China when there were no cases reported in the country which was followed by an early lockdown by mid-March, with only 102 active cases.

Ardern’s approach was pragmatic and she decided to get personally involved in the campaigns to spread the message “stay home, save lives”. Unlike other leaders, she was seen doing daily televised briefings and regular Facebook live sessions. Her unique empathetic leadership skill has won her a huge fan base worldwide.  

New Zealand is one of the few countries to record no cases for straight 102 days and this is accredited to the mindful planning of its government. With a population of about 48.9 million, only 1,788 odd cases are reported till now which is a testament to the country’s success.

The World Health Organisation has also praised New Zealand for acting quickly, holding it as an example to other countries.

Germany

Germany, headed by Chancellor Angela Merkel, was successful in recording far lower cases than most EU countries.  

Extensive testing from the outset, a robust supply of ICU beds and ventilators, and the early imposition of the lockdown are just a few of the reasons why Germany was ahead of the curve. Merkel left no stone unturned in giving periodic reminders that “COVID was serious – so take it seriously”. To curb the anxiety amongst Germans, Merkel ensured that the government’s lockdown exit strategy was shared thousands of times online in a planned and eloquent manner.

The mortality rate due to COVID is quite low in Germany at around 3.69% (Mortality vs Tested) as compared to 9.15% in France and 12.7% in Italy.

According to an Euronews poll, more than 7 out of 10 Germans side with Merkel’s performance. In fact, the results showed that both the French and the Italians also admired Merkel’s approach.

Other countries  

Mette Frederiksen, Denmark’s Prime Minister, in mid-March had closed nurseries, primary and secondary schools, as well as cafes, restaurants, bars, gyms, hair salons and banned gatherings of more than 10 people. Her timely response saved many lives in Denmark.

Other countries such as Norway, Iceland and Finland under their respective leadership of Erna Solberg, Katrín Jakobsdóttir and Sanna Marin have also done exemplarily well in its battle against coronavirus.

While talking about women leaders one cannot miss mentioning K K Shailaja, Kerala’s Health Minister.

The lessons from the previous Nipah outbreak helped Shailaja to prepare for a containment strategy even before the first passenger from Wuhan reached Kerala on January 27. That was the first case reported in India.

When Shailaja was honoured by the United Nations on its Public Service Day 2020, social media flooded with her praises. The ‘Kerala model’ planned under Shailaja was extensively covered by the international media houses as well.

We would like to say only one thing to women icons all over – Keep doing what you doing and more power to you!