Dan Boyle: Blessed Among Women


From top: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, then Nigeria’s Foreign and Finance Minister, at a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2007; Dan Boyle

This week has seen the appointment of the first African and first woman to be appointed as Director General of the World Trade Organisation, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Her appointment had been held up because of opposition from the Trump administration. With election of Joe Biden as US President, this objection has been dropped.

In being appointed Dr. Okonjo-Iweala joins a growing coterie of women who hold important global political/economic positions.

The presidents of the European Commission and the European Central Bank, along with the recently US Treasury Secretary, form a potent collection of influencers who will influence how the global economy is likely to develop, or not, in the years to come.

The growing political influence of women should of course be welcomed. Despite these significant appointments the political power of women remains tokenistic in many parts of the World.

In Ireland we remain particularly backward in promoting women into positions of power.

A direct promotion of women into prominent political roles does not guarantee better ways of making decisions and better decisions themselves, but it should make such change more likely.

Among the many reasons why the political glass ceiling has been largely unbroken has been because the routes that had been mainly available to women have either been those of inheritance, or in seeking to replicate the toxic behaviour of men in succeeding in the male world of politics.

Margaret Thatcher would be a good example of the latter. More ballsier than any man however inept they were.

Nor should any female politicians be not considered as being as incompetent as any man. The second UK Tory Prime Minister, Theresa May, is a prime example of that.

The most successful female politician of our era, Angela Merkel, is set to be replaced as leader of her political party by a man. It is certain that he won’t be anything like as successful.

What more women in decision making role would do is bring about a better sensibility. Women tend to be more patient, tend to be more likely to take a longer term view, see a bigger picture.

Women, as a rule, are more likely to practice a politics that is less confrontational, more co-operative. What more political women are more likely to do than men are is to re-prioritise the political agenda, relocating resources to issues that have a wider societal impact.

We don’t lack for real World examples of this. We have the very impressive Prime Minister of Aotearoa, Jacinda Ardern. There is the five party coalition government formed in Finland, with all female leaders. Finland where innovative policy approaches, on education and on eliminating homelessness, exist. And they haven’t been doing too badly on COVID either.

Not only are more women needed to change the how of politics but also the where. Away from musty chambers into the communities where real lives are lived. And also the when, making decisions in a more child friendly/family friendly way.

I realise I’m taking myself out of a job here.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator and serves as a Green Party councillor on Cork City Council. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle


Sponsored Link

33 thoughts on “Dan Boyle: Blessed Among Women

  1. Mr. T

    “Women tend to be more patient, tend to be more likely to take a longer term view, see a bigger picture.”
    “Women, as a rule, are more likely to practice a politics that is less confrontational, more co-operative.”

    A load of sexist tripe about how women are weak and non-confrontational. Just because you try to spin it as a positive doesnt make it any less sexist or demeaning.

        1. Janet, dreams of an alternate universe where willies are irrelevant

          I’m impulsive, quick tempered ( especially when I can’t run) fairly confrontational…I like to get to the point and speak plainly and nip any bull in the bud, I’m competitive, I tend to live for the now and I would be known as a risk taker …do I need to return my vagina ?

    1. Jockey


      How am I supposed to take this movment seriously when the saviours are employing the exact same language as those they have a problem with? Am I supposed to start going around all day talking about how women are better than men is it? Best of luck with that approach. I think there is 10% on the left that think women are better, and 10% on the right who think men are better, and the 80% of us in between just think that each person, regardless of gender, has things they’re good at and things they’re crap at. End of story.

      We do need to change how we treat women in politics though – I mean having no maternity leave is a bit of a farce. That’s a biological reality we can’t change so we need to work out some sort of solution to.

        1. Jockey

          Well I think they fully understand that only females and trans females bear children. We need to accept that and create some kind of solution for them so that they are more likely to become involved in politics. Being a politician is one of the world’s worst jobs already. I can’t for the life of me understand why anyone would get into that game.

  2. Charger Salmons

    I would have thought having more BAME people in positions of power and responsibility would be more important than women per se.

    1. ce

      you get both with Pritti Patel… working out well too… hmm…. maybe everybody is just awful regardless of race/gender

    2. Redundant Proofreaders Society

      The term ‘BAME’ to categorise people in Britain is offensive and discriminating. It’s perpetuating the issues of segregation, discrimination and tokenism there, which, given the deeply-embedded class system, is unsurprising.

  3. Just Sayin

    What a load of sexist nonsence.

    Re: the Fins and their performance on covid

    This is largely due to their excellent Vitamin D levels.

    In the 1950s they realised that they needed extra Vitamin D to improve bone density (and protect against rickets)

    In the early 2000s they realised increasing vitamin D levels further would boost the immune system, and their population saw excellent health benefits (including being better able to fight off covid)

    No disrespect to the women currently in government in Finland, they appear to be running a very rational / pragmatic covid campaign, but their success is in large part due to their forefathers.

    Meanwhile back here Varadkar compares Vitamin D to some experimental drug advocated for by Trump.


    “The jury is still out on vitamin D supplementation. There is some evidence suggesting that it could be beneficial. I am not going to do a Donald Trump here and recommend remdesivir, chloroquine or anything else”

    Perhaps if he were a woman he would be less of a silly

  4. V aka Frilly Keane

    Man’sheet again

    The most successful female politician of our era, Angela Merkel, is set to be replaced as leader of her political party by a man. It is certain that he won’t be anything like as successful.

    Stop identifying leadership, and in this case, a leadership election also, as a battle of the sexes, or a taking turns thing, Dan

    Leadership has nothing to do with gender – and you’re a bit too long in the tooth now to be still getting away with crap like this

    tis the likes of you, who sell themselves as being about equality, wokeish commonality, fair play, sustainability and decency that makes it all harder to stomach Dan

    Angela Merkel will be remembered as a successful Leader, one of the best the EU has ever seen, and may well be considered one of the best through Covid, definitely the best Germany and her own party will see in a long time
    None of that relies on her happening to be female
    NONE of it

    What more women in decision making role would do is bring about a better sensibility. Women tend to be more patient, tend to be more likely to take a longer term view, see a bigger picture.

    You know what would be a big help Dan
    If the likes of you, and other lads in professional politics, as well as plenty more around here in fairness
    actually knock it off with the what women tend to be etc etc
    Sensibility, Patience, Big Picture thinking Strategic Planning ec
    They are not gender preferred skills or talents, it’s actually a case of the lads just can’t be pompommed with – because they never had to develop other skills that just be born male, and ideally white, to be assured of a shot any any Leadership opportunity

    Like your own leader there, only this week, demonstrated his indulgence towards the Macho Man Leadership style
    him and his 9 advisors – ffs. Just shows how easy it is for White Irish Men to pass through the hands of State Boards and Public Jobs dot ie

    Away ou’ that Dan you’re a cod
    Lets see you now address Eamon Ryan as the male Leader of the Green Party
    Micheal Martin as the Male leader of Fianna Fail and as the male Taoiseach
    and Leo Varadkar as the Male Leader of Fine Gael and as the male Tánaiste

    cause not too long from now you and all your pals around here will be using the title (or there abouts) of
    Mary Lou McDonald the female Taoiseach / Tainaiste whatever

    In fact why don’t ye all start addressing the current Government Ministers with their gender including in their title
    Lets have it, Stephen Donnelly TD the male Minister for Health
    Paschal Donoghue TD the male Minister for Finance
    blah blah blah

    1. Janet, dreams of an alternate universe where willies are irrelevant

      do you know it starts so early the pigeon holing, I’m sorting out clothes for the baba, trying to find stuff ” for girls ” that is fun, dinosaurs , bright fun colors etc and not just every shade of pink with bunnies and flowers is sickening, I guess that’s what girls ” tend to like “

      1. millie bobby brownie

        +1 V and Jan.

        We received so many blue clothes for the wee lad after he was born, and sadly with lockdown (as I’m sure you know well yourself J) I didn’t have much of a chance to buy anything. I prefer to dress him in warmer colours. Orange and yellow particularly. He even has a rainbow coloured babygro now.

        Girls clothes tend to have a better range of colour, but always flowers and bunnies and so on. There’s a growing market for neutral clothes for babies, so at least it’s not the standard pink for girl and blue for boy. I remember it used to frustrate me so much with the little miss. I would deliberately buy boys clothes for her, just for a respite from all the girly stuff – because herself is no girly girl.

      2. Micko

        Apparently the whole pink / blue thing is a recent invention ( last century) and the colours used to be swapped.

        Blue for girls and pink for da boys.

        But ya probably know this already.

        Me, I’d just like a recognised international mans day. ;)

          1. Micko


            Not recognised by the UN there isn’t.

            According to the UN – Nov 19th is International Toilet day.

            Which tells you what the UN think of the unofficial men’s day, also on Nov 19th

            So many days for women. Even one for Yoga ffs

            But men, nope – we’re not worthy.

          2. Rob_G

            I’m not trying to be funny, but do you really care whether or not men are recognised by the UN or not? I can’t say that my own personal feelings towards my manliness have been diminished upon receiving just now the bombshell of our day not being recognised by the UN.

      3. V aka Frilly Keane

        I’m not going down the road of how people dress, or how parents dress their children

        Dan just proved that its all still about Gender
        and Women in Leadership roles are still a novelty that needs to physically identified
        the Female Head of blah blah

        The hypocrisy from a long standing member of the Green Party and an established Broadsheet contributor

        Not that long ago Broadsheet themselves introduced a Trump Presser that included the two female journalists
        like being a Journalist is naturally treated and assumed a male job, and women in the gig were unique enough to be identified and introduced differently

        ara’ shur who really gives a pompom here in fairness
        I’m only tolerated here for the cake

        1. Janet, dreams of an alternate universe where willies are irrelevant

          it wasn’t really the dressing part it’s the labeling of pink and fluffy I was getting at and what that implies

          1. V aka Frilly Keane

            Oh I know, shur I’ve been through the pink fluffies n’ frillies meself

            But my point is that Dan & Co know better than the
            Blue for a Boy, Pink for a Girl,
            Rats n’ snails versus sugar n’ spice

            And if Dan & Co don’t know any better
            than he just needs to own it

            f’ing disgrace that here we are in 2021 having this discussion
            Christ t’night
            and do ye know what
            I blame meself, for sticking around
            because it’s no surprise that this is where Broadsheet ended up

          2. Janet, dreams of an alternate universe where willies are irrelevant

            yep it’s a ridiculously outdated point of view

  5. axelf

    can we not just have a meritocracy, i realise this would proclude most serving politicians, rather than engaging in this identity rubbish

  6. Gabby

    Hail thou, great Anna, whom three realms obey,
    Dost sometimes counsel take, and sometimes tae.

    I’ll go into the kitchen and put the kettle on. Dan’s pieces are thought provoking. They also provoke the hummph emotions of the commentariat, male more than female.

    How to deal with disgruntled female ex-Green dissidents – now there’s a conundrum.

    1. V aka Frilly Keane

      sounds like a job for Terry McMahon
      Another Hero

      or better again Political Advisor himself Derek Mooney
      no better man when it comes to talking about women politicians
      in other parties

  7. Redundant Proofreaders Society

    This is all very dated. Women have held positions of power for centuries, with an array of leadership styles, qualities and flaws. Compare Nefertiti (Queen of Ancient Egypt) with Theresa May (ex British PM), if you must, and your argument doesn’t stand up.

    What is a current issue is that many executives were/are not compensated equally, which is against employment law. Okonjo-Iweala is not a victim of this, so we can praise organisations such as the WTO for that. Also, girls from disadvantaged families in developing nations have far less access to education than boys. But this piece from the Councillor doesn’t mention that – instead he patronises the appointment of women and unfairly generalises their leadership style based on gender. Ridiculing tokenism doesn’t mean you are that distant from it.

Comments are closed.

Sponsored Link