Throughout history, women have been mistreated and relegated to a second role is mostly every society around the world. The common notion was that men should be outside earning the family income while women stayed at home cooking and taking care of the children.
In the United States, women were granted the right to vote as late as 1920 thanks to the ratification of the 19th amendment. However, the Equal Rights amendment never got ratified.
Around the world, countries like Bhutan, Lebanon, Brunei, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates either deny women’s suffrage or widely limit it. Even the Vatican City, of all places, makes it hard for women to vote.
This trend, however, seems to be changing. In 1940, Khertek Anchimaa-Toka broke tradition and became the Chairman (this is where the word chairwoman was probably invented) of the Presidium of the Little Khural. This happened in the Tuvinian’s People’s Republic. Although this place is probably unheard off by most people, they do hold the record.
Since then, over 40 women have held the Head of State position. Currently India, Switzerland, Finland, Chile, Liberia and the Philippines have lady presidents.
Argentina is the latest example of nations following the trends of others. Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner won the October 2007 elections with over 45 percent of the votes, the largest win since suffrage was restored in 1983. She is the wife of current President Nestor Kirchner, and she’s seen as a continuation of his rule.
An interesting fact is that the runner up, Elisa Carrio, is also a woman. Argentina also recently elected its first woman state governor. In a country where the current working class at one point wasn’t able to vote because of the military coup of 1976, this is clearly a triumph of democracy and human rights.
Will the United States heed the call? That is hard tell one year away from the presidential elections. The Senator from New York Hillary Rodham Clinton seems determined to be the nation’s first woman president, and she does stand a chance within the Democratic Party.
In a country with one of the longest standing democracies, a break of tradition would only generate a stronger sense of equality, if not bring a change of direction and style.
After eight years of a presidency marked by war and countless vacations days, a Clinton return could be the answer to the nation’s dilemmas.