The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) is a local non-profit, non-partisan Lebanese human rights organization in Beirut that was established by the Franco-Lebanese Movement SOLIDA (Support for Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) in 2006. SOLIDA has been active since 1996 in the struggle against arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and the impunity of those perpetrating gross human violations.

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December 3, 2015

The Daily Star - Let women rule the future, December 03, 2015

Dima El Hassan

Today we are living in an age of virtual liberty. On one hand, technology has created a whole culture of a “digitally native generation” whereby people worldwide are instantly connected. On the other hand, one cannot ignore the cruel reality of the still-existing global economic and social disparities. Less than a third of the world’s population has access to the Internet, while three out of four people are living in absolute poverty. Along with globalization effects, we’ve produced a hyperlinked world where the big majority is removed from the systems shaping their daily life. This is exactly what led to social turmoil in many states, from the Occupy Movement to the Arab Spring, while sharing a common drive: a sense of disempowerment. Despite all the advancements technology has brought to humanity, we are still seeking for the same fundamental things: security, liberty, justice and peace.

It’s time to experience something different, a new “paradigm of power,” a leadership that leverages power for collective empowerment and not human greed, making a safer world for our grandchildren.

The solution lies in women. With a world population of 7 billion, women make up 52 percent of the global whole and control $20 trillion in annual consumer spending. It’s increasingly proven that women are the engine driving global economic growth. They are as competent as men in most accomplishments. Nonetheless, women worldwide are still an “under-tapped” resource.

“If women ruled the world, politics would be more collegial, businesses would be more productive, and communities would be healthier. More women should lead – not because they are the same as men, but precisely because they are different,” writes Dee Dee Myers, the former White House press secretary, in her book “Why Women Should Rule the World.” She dares us to envision our near future with more women leaders in politics, business, science and academia.

According to her, if women ruled the world, everything would change for the better. We’d have more cooperation than pretense, growth than regression, conversation than howling. All in all, the more we have women in public life the better (not necessarily perfect) things would be and we’d be living a healthier life at all levels.

Great women have done incredible things across history, while many of their achievements remained undocumented in history books. Exceptions were women whose value and impact were so extraordinary that they couldn’t pass unnoticed. One such woman, is Khadijah Bint Khuwaylid back in A.D. 555. She was the wife of the Prophet Mohammad and known as the first believer in him and in Islam. Her existence precedes ours yet she’s a prime model for how a woman leader could and should be, even in the 21st-century world, be it in business, love, politics or society as a whole. Known as a successful and esteemed businesswoman, she was both compassionate and hard working, always giving her riches to the underprivileged. She was also a great mother and an ideal wife, living a true love story with the Prophet Mohammad. The example Khadija left for mankind remains timeless for the great support and devotion she gave to the Prophet, ultimately contributing to the rise of a great religion, and for showing the whole world, across time and geography, what a devout, modest and bold woman can achieve through her conduct and actions.

“Women’s progress is global progress.” Studies show that wherever there is rise in women’s academic enrollment rates, income and health, and a reduction in violence against women, businesses are more effective, governments are more representative, families and communities are healthier. Furthermore, there is more respect to equal human rights, less violence – and more security, peace, stability and sustainability.

This is related to the fact that women’s perspective to life is different, they experience life differently, and thus look at things and analyze them differently, therefore coming up with solutions differently. Studies also show that women lead differently than men. And here diversity is a strength for change.

Often they are more collaborative, inclusive and team-oriented. They are values-based and live by their values in a consistent manner. They are holistic in their thinking by including career, family, community and personal aspects in their actions. When it comes to finding solutions, they tend to include values, vision culture and relationships, and not just facts and numbers.

They communicate differently in that they listen, encourage dialogue and achieve compromise more than men do. All these features are increasingly needed in leading our world today, that is more fast paced, innovation driven and less hierarchical.

For decades, women were supposed to think and act like men in order to succeed. If they want to lead they have to play according to the political rules of the “man’s world.” That’s what made a lot of women able to lead in a patriarchal world. Margaret Thatcher is a good exemplar here.

But now with what we’re passing through, we have to dare otherwise. As Jennifer Homans said in her New York Times review of “The End of Men and Rise of Women,” patriarchy is crumbling. We are reaching “the end of 200,000 years of human history and the beginning of a new era” in which women, and womanly skills and traits, are on the rise.”

It isn’t about political perfection; it’s about getting positive change. It’s about investing in stronger economies and healthier communities, ending conflicts, and sustaining peace. It’s about enhancing the quality of people’s life. It’s moving from a patriarchal world to a matriarchy!

That would be a real change under trial.

Dima El Hassan is the director of programs at the Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development.

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