Mallary Jean Tenore published a column on Poynter.org today, discussing the prevailing gender gap in leadership positions with Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times.
Interestingly, on the question of how to end the many cycles of repression and amplify women’s voices, Kristof argues placing women in positions of political leadership doesn’t always help those who need it most. While recognizing that in the United States, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has systematically raised international women’s issues since entering office, Kristof says in countries such as India, where there’s a heavy emphasis on class, women leaders focus less on assisting the female population.
Kristof says that when he and his wife Sheryl WuDunn were writing their book Half the Sky they “found that having a woman as a president or prime minister didn’t seem to make any real difference in terms of issues of concern to women, like maternal health and girls attending schools.”
So if top-down leadership doesn’t hold the key to empowering women, what else can be done? Journalists, says Kristof, hold tremendous importance in giving women’s issues a voice.
“I think that if one is trying to figure out in Egypt or in India or in any other country how to get some social concerns onto the agenda, then a starting point is to get them on the op-ed pages; otherwise, they just tend to be invisible,” Kristof told Tenore.
Those of us here at the OpEd Project are well aware of the importance of opinion journalism. But know you’ve heard it from one of the most renowned opinion writers: the op-ed pages drive conversations across all sectors of society. In celebration of International Women’s Day, do something to support female populations around the world- all you need is an opinion.