Women in World Affairs Are a Lot More Complicated Than a Stereotype

Women in World Affairs Are a Lot More Complicated Than a Stereotype
Rwandan Minister for Youth and the Arts Sandrine Umutoni during a visit with French Culture Minister Rachida Dati in Paris, May 16, 2024 (Sipa photo by Firas Abdullah via AP Images).

This article is part of a series by the author examining the myths and realities of women’s role in global politics. You can read the rest of the series here.

Addressing the Catholic faithful from St. Peter’s Basilica on New Year’s Day this year, Pope Francis declared, “The world … needs to look to mothers and to women in order to find peace, to emerge from the spiral of violence and hatred, and once more see things with genuinely human eyes and hearts.”

There’s no small irony in the fact that the pope, who heads an institution that has barred women from serving in a variety of leadership positions, was imploring the rest of the world to acknowledge the benefits of gender integration. Yet, his New Year’s address was merely the latest instance of a powerful man in charge of a predominantly male institution championing women as the key to world peace. Former U.S. President Barack Obama similarly made headlines in 2019 when he opined at a private event that he was “absolutely confident” the world “would see a significant improvement across the board” in terms of living standards and other outcomes if every nation on earth was run by women for two years.

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