Female Role Models: How Three Women Have Influenced International Politics

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Women are increasingly prominent in international politics, and so it shouldn't be an issue if a politician, candidate or even a world leader is female this day in age. However despite countless protests and battles for women's rights throughout the generations, sadly prejudice is still very much present. The notion of a 'level playing field' when it comes to gender is still an ideal rather than a reality, however today's female politicians are paving the way to change that with their examples inspiring more young women to enter politics. These examples are some of the lesser-known women in politics who are nevertheless battling against the odds to do work that will benefit people in their country, regardless of gender. It's not just the fact of these women's successful careers that is inspiring, it's that they are also working tirelessly for causes they believe in, changing perceptions, and proving that they can make a positive difference in the world.

Fadumo Dayib
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Fadumo Dayib was literally risking her life when she became Somalia's first female Presidential candidate. Despite four death threats to date, the Harvard graduate will stand in 2016 in the patriarchal and troubled country's first democratic elections since 1967. Dayib is highly articulate and extremely well-educated, despite being born to illiterate Somali parents and not fully learning to read and write until she was 14. After working for the United Nations in the field of public health, she decided she wanted to try to help her own country move forward. One of Dayib's main concerns is to change the culture of sexual violence in Somalia, where in 2014 the Human Rights Watch declared: "Here, rape is normal."

Jennifer Abubakar
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The wife of former Nigerian vice-president Atiku Abubakar, Jennifer Douglas Abubakar founded the Gede Foundation in 2002 to provide high-quality treatment and care for HIV and AIDS sufferers, as well as training, advocacy and research. The foundation is considered pioneering in reaching out to underserved and highly stigmatised populations, and more recently has also made mental health problems in these communities a priority, despite cultural taboos around the subject across Africa. Dr Abubakar was also instrumental in the founding of the American University of Nigeria in 2005, the first American-style university to be established in Sub-Saharan Africa, following her own graduation from the American University in Washington, DC.

Emily Brothers
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Courageous Emily Brothers is not only blind but also the UK's first openly transgender politician. Although the Labour Party candidate didn't win the seat she fought for in the 2015 General Election, she is winning her struggle against prejudice and discrimination. Her dignified response to disparaging comments about both her gender and disability in a national newspaper helped bring issues of LGBT rights into the spotlight, and the bold example of her embrace of personal qualities that could be seen as political liabilities by others makes Brothers one of the most inspiring politicians of any gender on the current landscape.

These are three very different women in different countries, fighting different circumstances, but all proving that politics is no longer a no-go area for women around the world. Whether they're fighting for women's rights or tackling wider issues of health and discrimination, these female politicians are determined that their voices should be heard.

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