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Male female power

Can a male presidential candidate be better at women's affairs than a female presidential candidate?


[election] This question seems absurd considering the second half of the French presidential election 6. May: Conservative Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist leader Ségolène Royal, the first woman in French finals, stand as far apart as they can go. While Royal ended her election campaign by pointing out that she "stands here as a strong woman" and thus better represents half the population, Sarkozy and his people have cast doubt that she as a woman and mother can lead an entire country.

But if we look at the presidential election in another French-speaking country, Mali, this woman vs. the male opposition more nuanced. Not to mention turned upside down. The first round of elections in Mali took place on 29 April. The result of the peaceful vote in this democratic and Muslim-dominated West African country – which now held its fifth democratic election in a row – is not yet official. But it seems clear that incumbent President Amadou Toure will go to the second round on May 13.

At first glance, it may seem a shame that Sidibé Aminata Diallo did not reach. She is a professor of sustainable development at the University of Bamako, the capital of Mali, and, like Royal, her country's first real female presidential challenger. When Diallo says that poor Mali's challenges should be solved by "gaining balance in the ecosystem", she is ensured sympathy from environmentalists in rich countries.

But there are several reasons why Diallo against Touré should not be supported in the same way as Royal against Sarkozy. First, the skepticism of Diallo's Brundtland-inspired rhetoric is deep in Mali, also among women. "She just wants attention and a Nobel Prize ... We would rather have concrete plans from her on unemployment and poverty. The environment comes after all this, ”explains an unemployed law student to IPS journalist Almahady Cissé.

People in Mali, who cannot be said to be responsible for global warming, nor for the foreseeable future, do not rightly appear to prioritize populist environmentalism over work, health and women and children's future opportunities. And since his election to 2002, Touré has prioritized women more than power politicians like Sarkozy. Touré is not just the democracy hero who overthrew a dictator in 1991 and refrained from voting in the country's first free elections. In his first term, he also made sure that Mali's women received free cesarean births. And secured 10.000 HIV-infected treatment and 3500 new affordable housing.

Women's organizations have raised money to give him a new term: "Most of Mali's women will vote for Touré because of his woman-friendly policies," says Coulibaly Kéita in Bamako.

In short: Heia feminists Royal and Touré!

Dag Herbjørnsrud
Dag Herbjørnsrud
Former editor of MODERN TIMES. Now head of the Center for Global and Comparative History of Ideas.

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