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COVID-19 Leaders: Listen to the Women

By Shlomo  Maital 

  I’ve written this before – but now, today, with the coronavirus raging in the US and EU – it bears repeating.  Women have done far far better than men, as national leaders in the fight against the pandemic.   Question is – why? *

  * see Arwa Mahdawi, “the secret weapon in the fight against coronavirus: women”.  The Guardian, April 11 2020.

    * Tsai In-Wen, a former lawyer, Taiwan’s first female President elected in 2016, has effectively limited the pandemic in her country, from the start.

    * Jacinda Arden has virtually eliminated the coronavirus in New Zealand and won resounding re-election, with a parliamentary majority.

      * Angela Merkel,  lame-duck German Chancellor, has been a voice of calm and reason, in the face of neo-Nazi demonstrations in her country.  She is herself a scientist, and not only listens to the science but truly deeply understands it.

      * Denmark, led by PM Mette Frederiksen, and Finland, led by PM Sanna Marin, have both done well in limiting the pandemic in their countries. 

     * As of 27 September 2020, Norway has performed 1,034,670 tests and reported 13,741 confirmed cases and 274 deaths.   A senior Norwegian Institute of Public Health consultant said one of the major reasons why the mortality rate was significantly lower than in other European countries (such as Italy, Spain, the UK) was the high number of tests performed in Norway.  Erna Solberg has been Norwegian PM for over 6 years.

    *  Iceland joins Taiwan,  mong a group of countries which adopted a cooperative strategy early on in the pandemic, bringing together multiple organizations to tackle the challenges in containing COVID-19.  Katrín Jakobsdóttir is  erving as the 28th and current Prime Minister of Iceland since 2017.

    Seven brilliant women, who have led their countries to safe shores.  Concidence?  When the three biggest failures in controlling the pandemic were led by men:  Trump (US), Bolsinaro (Brazil) and Johnson (UK)? 

    I could list some speculative theories about why women have been far more successful than men in controlling the pandemic crisis. 

    But I leave it to the reader.  Because – you, dear reader, know why. 

Iceland Leads the Way

By Shlomo   Maital   


  In the United States,  despite the fact that the global financial and economic crisis began there, and was caused by irresponsible actions by senior executives in the financial services industry, not a single banker has been sent to jail on criminal charges.  Banks have paid large fines for civil suits, but for the most part, those fines pale in comparison to recent profits. And to add to the insult – the Republicans have managed to modify the Dodd-Frank provision that keeps banks from investing in exotic derivatives (the kind that caused the problem in the first place). 

   But there is a country that has behaved differently.  Iceland,  with only 325,671 epople and 103,000 sq. km. in area.     Iceland has been independent (from Denmark) only since 1944.  Its banks were out of control in the first decade of the millennium and expanded irresponsibly.  The collapse following 2008 was massive.  Iceland had 20 percent inflation in 2008 and 8 per cent unemployment in 2010.  Its debts were huge.  But Iceland cleaned up the mess.  Bankers were sent to jail.  Iceland’s national debt was gradually reduced.  Iceland managed to maintain its social welfare system despite the enormous financial crisis. 

   According to an Icelandic economist,  “after the infamous crash of 2008, the Icelandic economy shrunk in 2009 and 2010. However, since 2011, the economy has been growing at a respectable rate, by 2.1% in 2011, 1.1% in 2012 and 3.5% in 2013. While purchasing power has yet to reach its pre-crash peak, and many families are still acutely aware of the crash when trying to make ends meet, the economy had safely exited recession.”  Lately, the economy has slowed.  And Iceland’s conservative government has practiced austerity, which in Europe has failed.   Despite this, little Iceland has emerged from a deep crisis that was worse perhaps than in any other country.  And without much help from anyone. 


Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital