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Girls & Women

Barack Obama Says He Wants More Women Elected to Public Office

It seems only fitting that at an event named after former French emperor Napoleon, one of history’s many male leaders, former US President Barack Obama called out for more female leaders in politics.  

At an invite-only event in Paris Saturday in front of a group of media leaders called Les Napoleons, Obama spoke of "the importance of more focus on putting women in power, because men seem to be having some problems these days,” according to AFP

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“Not to generalize but women seem to have a better capacity than men do, partly because of their socialization,” the former president said. 

Some studies have shown that women can be more effective leaders than men, exhibiting clearer communication, a better ability to innovate, more supportiveness, and effective goal-setting. Pew Research has found that women fare better than men in five of eight important leadership traits, including compassion, honesty, and intelligence. 

In the 2016 US election, Obama endorsed Hillary Clinton for president; she would ultimately go on to win the popular vote, but lose the election. 

The United States has never had a female president, and fewer than one in five members of Congress are women, according to the Center for American Women and Politics. 

Read More: These 7 Heroic Women Leaders Are Breaking Gender Barriers in Government Around the World

Worldwide, 63 democratic countries have had a female leader since 1960, when Sri Lanka became the first country to elect a female prime minister. When it comes to female representation in politics, it’s not the United States and other developed countries that are leading the way, but rather countries like Rwanda and Bolivia — which rank numbers one and two, respectively, for women in politics. 

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Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development; among them, goal number five calls for gender equality, including “equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.” You can join us and take action here

As president, Obama advocated for gender equality in several capacities, but was also criticized in his first term for bringing in a male-dominated cabinet. 

Read More: A Look at Obama's Legacy on Women's Rights

In office, he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which restored protections against wage discrimination, and inaugurated the White House Council on Women and Girls in 2009, among other initiatives. Former first lady Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn initiative focused on increasing access to education for women and girls around the world. 

obama-security-meeting.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

US President Donald Trump’s advisory body included just four women, or 17%.  

At the Les Napoleons event, Obama also warned of rising inequality and climate change, The Local reports. That same day, he met with France's former president Francois Hollande and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo to discuss “the big challenges of the planet.”