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Research shows countries with female leaders have handled Covid better

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 19 Jul 2020, 12:02PM
Jacinda Ardern with Angela Merkel in 2018. (Photo / AP)
Jacinda Ardern with Angela Merkel in 2018. (Photo / AP)

Research shows countries with female leaders have handled Covid better

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 19 Jul 2020, 12:02PM

There's been much speculation about whether this is the case but the numbers don't lie: countries with male leaders where the economy has been prioritised over public health have seen 4.3 times more Covid-19 deaths, compared to countries with female leaders where public health is top priority.

A team of experts led by Trinity College in Dublin analysed outbreaks in 35 countries and concluded that countries with female leaders are handling the pandemic a lot better, with fewer deaths.

Countries led by females have also been a lot quicker to flatten the curve of the virus, the experts found.

The study highlights the successes of countries such as New Zealand, Germany, Denmark and Finland, which have all received global praise for the handling of the pandemic.

It found that male-led countries had nearly six times more Covid-19 deaths. Even when analysing data per capita, female-led countries still came out better, with 1.6 times less fatalities.

The average excess mortality per million population was 4.8 in countries led by women and 21 in countries led by men.

Nations with women at the helm were also quicker to go into lockdown because, the experts say, they "prioritised public health over the economy".

The same researchers also found that female-led countries such as New Zealand have better levels of social and income equality, prioritising human needs in their policies.

According to the study, the peak in daily deaths was also seven times as low in women-led countries.

The number of consecutive days with confirmed Covid-19 fatalities was, on average, 50 days in women-led countries and 79 in male-led countries.

The research findings are yet to be peer-reviewed but the team of scientists is confident about the findings, after gathering data from 35 countries across five continents.

The team compared deaths per capita, excess mortality rates and the number of days with reported deaths between 10 female-led countries and 25 male-governed ones.

The research found correlations between economic inequality and deaths from coronavirus.

The experts say their results "point to female leadership as a marker for healthier and more equal societies, where policy-making prioritises long-term social wellbeing over short-term economic considerations".

"As Covid-19 deaths began to add up, national leaders were faced with an urgent decision: prioritise economic growth and market openness or shift toward people's wellbeing," the team, led by researcher Luca Coscieme, wrote in the study.

"Leaders who opted for the former demonstrated a short-term vision and lack of understanding of the fact that social wellbeing (and a healthy environment) is the basis for a healthy economy.

"Our results show that this is the case for most men leaders, while women leaders did not hesitate to adopt precautionary measures, even when they posed immediate economic costs."

According to the experts, male leaders responded to the Covid-19 crisis like "a strict father", expecting to have the final say, whereas female leaders acted like a "nurturing mother" with a "we are all in this together" attitude.

"When faced with an illness, the strict father might advise working through it while the nurturing mother would advise staying home until you get better," they wrote.


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