Female empowerment in modern Western politics

With David Cameron announcing that he would resign as prime minister on Wednesday, paving the way for interior minister Theresa May to take over the job the same day, all eyes are fixed on the female leadership in two of the world’s most powerful countries.

At a time when the United States is torn by rising Islamophobia and gun crime, and the UK is divided over the vote to leave the EU, women are carving out new roles for themselves in modern Western politics. The prospect of Theresa May as British prime minister and Hillary Clinton as US president is a sign that gender barriers are being breached.

May is renowned for her wise, restrained approach, which kept her away from the fray of the EU referendum, and from the gender game manipulated by her political opponent Andrea Leadsom, who suggested that being a mother made her a better choice for prime minister. May is keen to be viewed as a political leader, but not through the lense of her gender.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, Hillary Clinton is gradually forcing the world to no longer perceive her as “the good wife” who swallowed her pride to stand by her husband after his cheating scandal. She is now viewed not as a female victim, but as a strong, inspirational woman who could lead the world’s most powerful country and provide better opportunities for all Americans.

The prospect of Theresa May as British prime minister and Hillary Clinton as US president is a sign that gender barriers are being breached

Dr. Halla Diyab

Middle East

Both May and Clinton have extensive political experience. The former is Britain’s longest-serving Home Secretary in 50 years, its second female prime minister after Margaret Thatcher, while the latter was US secretary of state from 2009 until 2013. Their experience in dealing with domestic and foreign challenges can benefit the conflict-torn Middle East.

They may have a less militarized approach to the Syrian war than that of their male peers. A woman of law and order, May would look at the war through a security lense, as she realizes that a political settlement in Syria would bring regional stability.

The features of the conflict have been shaped by masculine power via war, arms, territorial expansion and political alliances. This is clear in the proxy war over Syria. Under female leadership, the crisis would be dealt with more sensitively and sensibly.
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Dr. Halla Diyab is an award winning screen-writer, producer, broadcaster, a published author and an activist. She has a Ph.D. in English and American Studies from the University of Leicester. She carried out research in New Orleans, USA while working on her thesis “The Examination of Marginality and Minorities in the Drama and Film of Tennessee Wil-liams”. She holds an MA in Gender and Women Studies from the University of Warwick. She has written a number of scripts for TV dramas countering religious extremism and international terrorism resulting in her being awarded Best Syrian Drama Script Award 2010 and the Artists Achievement Award 2011. She is a regular commentator in the Brit-ish and international media and has recently appeared on Channel 4 News, BBC Newsnight, BBC This Week, CNN, Sky News, Channel 5 News, ITV Central, Al Jazeera English, and BBC Radio 4, to name a few. She is a public speaker who spoke at the House of Commons, the Spectator Debate, Uniting for Peace and London’s Frontline Club. She has worked in Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Syria and is an expert on the Middle East and Islamic culture. As a highly successful drama writer, she has been dubbed ‘one of the most influential women in Syria’ in 2011. She also produces documentary films for UK and international channels. She is also the Founder & Director of Liberty Media Productions which focuses on cross-cultural issues between Britain and the Middle East. She can be found on Twitter: @drhalladiyab

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