Clinton poised to be most powerful woman ever

Looking ahead: ‘We need to make America whole again,’ said Clinton on Tuesday. © PA

In a few months, Hillary Rodham Clinton could be elected to the highest office of the USA — and, by extension, the world. Would that make her the most powerful woman ever in history?

‘What a super Tuesday!’ roared a beaming Hillary Clinton, to rapturous applause. On this week’s bumper day of primary elections, she won the support of seven more states, pulling her even further ahead of Bernie Sanders in the race to become the Democratic party’s nominee for US president.

It looks increasingly likely that she will win the spot — and from there she will become the favourite to enter the White House in January 2017. Amidst the headline-grabbing circus of the Donald Trump campaign, it is easy to forget that the world may soon be led by a woman who — as US president — will be the most powerful woman ever.

Or will she? History has no shortage of women vying for that title. Three and a half thousand years ago, the Egyptian queen Hatshepsut was ruling on behalf of her infant stepson when she gave herself the full powers of a Pharaoh. She got a lot done: a new trade agreement with the land of Punt brought Egypt huge wealth, and she oversaw the construction of some magnificent architecture.

Then in seventh-century China, a woman named Wu Zetian schemed and murdered her way to becoming the country’s first and only Empress. Despite its grisly beginnings, she had a surprisingly peaceful reign, lifting the status of women and cutting harsh taxes on the poor.

A millennium later, England was ruled by the indomitable Elizabeth I. The empire she founded reached dizzying heights under the steady gaze of Queen Victoria.

And In 18th-century Russia, Catherine the Great ushered in an era of cultural Enlightenment which is now remembered as the country’s ‘Golden Age’.

These are not just great women rulers, say some. Many of the world’s greatest rulers were women. Full stop.

Now the age of absolute rule is over; leaders must overcome far more obstacles to get their way. But thanks to globalisation, the job of president of the United States is enormously influential. Decisions made by the world’s leading superpower affect every one of us. She may not be an empress, but President Hillary Clinton could still earn the title of the most powerful woman to ever walk the Earth.

Women of the world

Does her gender really matter? Some have argued that too much attention is paid to Clinton’s status as a woman, rather than her policies or experience. Angela Merkel, Margaret Thatcher, Christine Lagarde: the world is used to powerful women. It is time we treated them as powerful people.

But many believe that the first woman in the White House will be a symbolic milestone like no other. Women still suffer huge amounts of inequality around the world, and a feminist president could put their plight at the top of her agenda. We should not underestimate how important that is.

You Decide

  1. Are you hoping to see a President Hillary Clinton in 2017?
  2. Does her gender influence your decision? Should it?

Activities

  1. Write down five of the most important qualities of a leader.
  2. Research an important female leader from history and write a short article explaining her achievements.

Some People Say...

“The world would be a better place if women were in charge.”

What do you think?

Q & A

Hang on, women aren’t always better leaders than men.
It varies depending on the individual, of course, but history has certainly seen some amazing female leaders. Political psychologists argue that this is because they are generally better at things like teamwork and negotiation. Others think the reason is far simpler: women have to work harder to earn respect, so they produce far greater results.
Will Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump?
Neither candidacy is set in stone — there’s still a chance that two completely different politicians will be battling it out for the White House. But that is looking more and more unlikely. Right now, polls suggest that Clinton would win that fight when election day finally arrives in November. Then again, polls have been proved wrong many times before.

Word Watch

Bernie Sanders
A left-wing Democratic senator from Vermont whose unexpected popularity has proved a challenge to the Clinton campaign.
Land of Punt
An ancient kingdom which exported gold, ebony and ivory to ancient Egypt. Its exact location is still debated by historians, but most believe it covered modern-day Somalia and Eritrea.
Wu Zetian
The empress was the mistress of Emperor Taizong. When he died, she married his favourite son, Gaozong. When he died, she became ruler of China.
Empire
Elizabeth ruled during the age of exploration, and established the first British colonies in America. This was the beginning of an empire which reached its height during Victoria’s reign two centuries later.
Enlightenment
A philosophical movement of the 18th and 19th centuries which celebrated the importance of reason and humanity.
Angela Merkel
The German Chancellor, first elected in 2005.
Margaret Thatcher
Britain’s only female prime minister, led the country from 1979-1990.
Christine Lagarde
Head of the International Monetary Fund, which works to maintain global economic stability.

PDF Download

Please click on "Print view" at the top of the page to see a print friendly version of the article.