Why do New Zealand, Germany, Taiwan, Iceland, Finland, Norway and Denmark – countries with democratically elected female leaders – seem to have coped better with Covid? Perhaps more progressive countries elect female leaders in the first place. It’s unwise to generalise, but tempting nonetheless. Has the pandemic exposed the fatal flaws in the Alpha-male model of leadership, which thrives on ‘command and control’ yet fudges decisions and fumbles communication? Or does the data behind these countries’ performance – on population density, healthcare systems and funding, demographics etc – suggest there’s something deeper going on?
Chair: Liz Moseley, Editor and Partner, Tortoise
The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson Canada’s 26th Governor General (1999-2005), The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson is universally acknowledged to have transformed the office and to have left an indelible mark on Canada’s history. She arrived in Canada from Hong Kong with her family in 1942 and made the astonishing journey from child refugee to accomplished broadcaster, journalist, and distinguished public servant in a multi-faceted lifetime. A leading figure in Canada’s cultural life, her television career is a remarkable and historic one.
In 2005, Madame Clarkson co-founded the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, a national organization which helps new citizens to feel involved and included in Canadian life through their Cultural Access Pass and Building Citizenship programs. The Institute hosts 6 Degrees, the global conversation on citizenship, inclusion, diversity and belonging in the 21st century. As of 2019, 6 Degrees has hubs in Toronto, Berlin, Calgary, and Mexico City.
In 2004, Madame Clarkson established the Clarkson Laureateship for Public Service at the University of Toronto. In 2006, she established the Clarkson Cup, the championship trophy for women’s Hockey. Since 2007, she has been the Colonel-in-Chief of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, the first Canadian to be C-in-C of a Canadian military regiment.
Madame Clarkson is the bestselling author of the 2014 CBC Massey Lectures Belonging: The Paradox of Citizenship, Room for All of Us: Surprising Stories of Loss and Transformation, Heart Matters: A Memoir, and a biography of Dr. Norman Bethune, the Canadian hero of the Chinese people. A Privy Councillor and a Companion of the Order of Canada, Madame Clarkson lives in Toronto.
Uma Kambhampti is a Professor of Development Economics and Head of the School of Politics Economics and International Relations at the University of Reading. She is author of a recent study on the affectivesness of female leaders at handling the Covid crisis. She has been at Reading since 1998. Prior to this, she obtained her BA, MPhil and PhD degrees in Economics from the University of Cambridge. Her research has largely related to inequalities, especially by gender. In recent years, she have worked on women’s empowerment and well-being including women’s labour market participation, life satisfaction as well as nutritional adequacy. She has also worked on issues relating to childhood inequalities, particularly in relation to child work and schooling participation, inequalities between girls and boys as well as inequalities across social and religious groups. A third strand of her research relates to the issue of well-being and life satisfaction in the UK, including analysis of the extent to which conditions during childhood and youth influence the life satisfaction of adults. She has published extensively in all these areas.
President Tarja Halonen served two terms as President of Finland from 2000 to 2012. During her presidency, she was Co-Chair of the United Nations Millennium Summit, Co-Chair of the Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization, Co-Chair of the UN High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability and Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders.Prior to her election, she served as Minister of Social Affairs and Health, Minister of Justice, and Minister for Foreign Affairs. Over her political career, which began in 1974, President Halonen has paid close attention to promotion of democracy, human rights, and the role of civil society. Strengthening social justice and gender equality have been central themes.President Halonen has been actively engaged with non-governmental organizations and trade unions. She is also Chair of the Board of the University of Helsinki. After her exit from the office, the TH Global Sustainability Foundation was established in 2012 to promote President Halonen’s work in the field of sustainable development.She continues to work closely with the UN and is currently Alternate Co-Chair of the Every Woman Every Child Movement’s Steering Group, and a member of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation. Among other duties, she is also UN Global Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction, UN Drylands Ambassador, and a member of the Group of Eminent Persons (CTBT).