April 08, 2008

Bachelet talks about double standards for females leaders

After meeting with Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Palace late last week, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet spoke firmly about the double standards today’s female leaders have to deal with.

President Bachelet, accompanied by Finance Minister Andrés Velasco, was in London to attend a conference on "progressive governance" hosted by UK’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Bachelet was one of only three female heads of state to be present at the summit. Other center left leaders who joined Brown were Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, and Liberian President Ellen Jonson-Sirleaf.

During her visit in the UK, Bachelet criticized the polarizing attitude towards female leaders: “I think women still have to prove themselves and have requirements put on them that men do not.” She recalls former President Lagos once being so touched by something his eyes were teary and the press said, “Oh, what a sensitive man.”

“When I do that, I am called hysterical,” she said.

She also said that women, opposite of men, are being judged on how they look and act: “I have never seen a male candidate or president having his clothes or hair discussed... ”

La Tercera, one of Chile’s dominant news media, recently had an exhaustive report on Bachelet’s clothing when she met with the Queen.

Bachelet also said that women do not panic as easily as men, a subtle dig at the recent dispute between Colombia and Ecuador - both countries nearly went to war last month because of a cross-border attack on rebels by Colombian forces. Bachelet claimed that she and Argentine President Cristina Kirchner took a neutral position while trying to negotiate a peaceful settlement to cool the situation down.

The conference on “progressive governance” was held to discuss environmental issues, the world’s economic situation and the completion of the millennium goals set by the United Nations.

Bachelet, who came back on Sunday, is scheduled to travel to China this week, where she is not expected to say anything about the rioting and human rights violations in Tibet.The Santiago Times

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