Around a month ago I was eagerly reading the online-news from my home-country Denmark, since a very historical general election took place: a 44 year old woman was elected as the new prime minister. Helle Thorning-Smidt is not only the youngest prime minister in over 60 years, but also the first female prime minister in Denmark ever. The 16th of September, Mexicos Independance Day, gained a whole new meaning to me as Helle took office as Denmarks new leader. This event probably made me feel something similar to what Afroamericans in the US felt when Barrack Obama became the first Afroamerican US president.
So what will it mean to us women that a woman is the leader of our country? Denmark is generally perceived as a society with equal opportunities for men and women. And compared to many other countries in the world, there's probably more equality between the sexes than in many other places. However, I ask myself if this isn't just a sort of illusion resulted from our political correct perception of modern democracy? Because, if not, why hasn't there been any female prime minister until now? I don't think the assumed equality between the sexes is as concrete as we imagine - not in Denmark, nor in many other socalled 'modern' societies.
Some would say that Helle Thorning-Smidt hasn't been elected because she's a woman but in spite of that she's a woman. And a lot of people foresee that she will have to work harder to achieve the same acknowledgment as a man in her position would have to. Helle Thorning-Smidt has not played her woman trump card in the elections campaign. That is, she hasn't tried to appeal to women specifically; she hasn't intended to win on a feministic basis. In fact, she is simply a good politician. However, there has been some indirect references to her in the elections campaign that seem to refer to her gender. I.e. in a live debate with the oppositions candidate a comentator called her a "talking machine" and said she was "confusing her rational opponent". Only a woman would be referred to as a "talking machine", whereas a male politician probably would be considered strong for talking a lot in a debate like this.
The women's struggle for equality has been long and is definitely still on. Even though we've come far compared to just 30 or 50 years ago, there's still a fundamental mistrust linked to women, which means that we are indirectly expected to work harder for the same acceptance and affirmation as men doing the same job.
Nevertheless, the fact that women get elected as presidents and prime ministers around the world (Denmark, Argentina, Kosovo, Costa Rica, Germany, Chile, etc.) sparks hope. Women definitely represent more humanistic ideas and different ways of negotiating and implementing these ideas and hopefully more will come to power in the future - not because they are women, but in spite of that they are women. That is, we dont want special treatment because we are women (just as we dont wanna give men special treatment for being men), but we want to have equality of opportunities and not be subjects to mistrust because of our gender.