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From me to you, highlighting challenges faced by girls

Dear Daughters, Will there ever be a female President in the United States of America?

Dear Daughters,

Today the United States votes for its President. Their choices are current President, Barack Obama, who was the country’s first ever black President, or Mitt Romney, a 65-year-old white man, who is typical  (a little older mind you) of who the country, until Obama, has always voted into power. Barack Obama was voted in once so it will not be a surprise if the Americans once again vote for someone who is not white – as long as that person is a man.

The United States has never had a female President. We in Canada have had only one female Prime Minister. Kim Campbell, our 19th Prime Minister, served as the leader of our country from June 25 – November 4, 1993.

According to a post on Our Kitchen Table entitled Are We Ready for a Female President, author and White House reporter Anne Kornblut states, “When you asked people in 2006 ‘Would there be a woman president,’ the answer was yes, and they pointed to Hillary Clinton. Now, the answer is not so clear.”

Why not?

Kornblut points out many factors working against women in the Presidential race.

1. There are too many demands on a female candidate. People want someone who has have fought the wars, been in the trenches, but who has also done “what mothers should” and stayed home and raised her children. Male candidates don’t have the same demands to be 100% dedicated to their professional life while being 100% dedicated to their family life. That is impossible.

2. Value of credentials - Female candidate’s credentials are not taken at face value. It seems that not only do females have to be hyper-qualified but they seem to have to prove the worth of their credentials as well. As Kornblut points out, “With men, being senator or governor of a state for one term is enough.”

3. People are ready for a female President, but only in theory “When you asked people in 2006 ‘Would there be a woman president,’ the answer was yes, and they pointed to Hillary Clinton. Now, the answer is not so clear.”

4. Women voters are very hard on female candidates When it comes to electing a female President you cannot count on the female vote simply because they are women. Kornblut says that women are more devoted to a political party than a gender. They also want to relate to the female candidate. When they cannot relate, they are less likely to vote for her. Women seem to be our own worse critics sometimes.

5. Balancing toughness with compassion The leader of a country needs to be able to make tough decisions and handle the consequences. Male candidates do not have to prove that they are tough enough. It seems that in society, simply being a man means you are tough enough unless proven otherwise. The opposite is true for a female candidate. Unfortunately, when she proves she is tough enough, she is often called heartless and insensitive and referred to as a b@#$%. Women have to have a perfect balance of assertiveness and compassion in order to even be considered for President.

Presidential candidates should be judged solely on their ability to provide the leadership a country needs. It would be neat to see an election where no one knew anything about the candidates except for the necessities. No names, gender, ethnicity, religious affiliation, age, etc. That would be the only way the truly deserving candidate would ever be elected. It would be interesting to see if the majority of  elected leaders in North America would continue to be middle-aged white men if we did it that way.

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