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Kunin: True Democracy

08/22/11 5:55PM By Madeleine M. Kunin
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Commentator's Brunch Sampler

(HOST) For the annual Commentator Brunch this year, the theme was "Picture This" and we're hearing recorded excerpts from that event all this week. Commentator Madeleine Kunin suggested what the world might look like - if more leaders were women.

(KUNIN) My name is Madeleine Kunin and this is "If Women Had Equal Power."

Picture if 50 percent the members of Congress were women instead of a mere 16 percent. The huddle of men circling the podium to announce cuts for Planned Parenthood, the Environmental Protection Agency, Head Start and Medicare, might not take place, if the group were interspersed with an equal number of women.

When the television cameras sweep across the House or Senate Floor, there would be less gray and more reds, blues and yellows. But it's not just about color. It's about who sits at the table and what gets done. More mothers, daughters, sisters, wives and aunts would help set the agenda. The outcome on some issues would be different.

Now, not every woman would vote in unison. Wearing red would be Republican Representative Michelle Bachman and other conservatives who would vote with their party. But women don't have to all agree to make a difference. A few more women's votes would change the outcome. Why? Women, like men, base their views on their life experiences which are still somewhat different than men's. Women tend to support programs that improve the lives of children and families. They would provide the tipping point on issues like child care, paid maternity leave, and early education.

Now, picture a United Nations portrait of world leaders, half of whom were women. Would we be more likely to wage peace, rather than war? Yes, there have been women warriors, starting with the Amazons, and continuing with Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, and Indira Ghandi. And frankly, we have not had enough female leaders to know whether they are the exception or the rule. But let's give it a try.

I do know that a woman leader would not instigate a policy of mass rape as a tool of war as has happened in Darfur, Bosnia and in Congo. And if women were in control of Afghanistan , I can picture them building more schools for girls, instead of destroying them. If Lehman brothers had been Lehman sisters and brothers, the financial world may not have experienced a meltdown.

When I picture an equal number of women and men sitting together in the halls of power everywhere, what I see is a picture of true democracy.


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