March is Women’s History Month. History has not always been fair to women, don’t even get me started on that big fool Henry VIII, who killed his wives for not giving him a son — when science now knows it was all his fault. My middle-schoolers are always extremely upset about the lack of prominent women in ancient history.
We need strong female role models for girls. We also need to ensure that we are giving credit to the amazing women in history that are not always as recognized as they should be. TV personality Bill O’Reilly of Fox News fame, was recently quoted: “A woman can’t be the leader of the free world because of a ‘gender deficiency.’” While I am certain this is more of a statement on his partisan political views than reality — it is disheartening for our daughters and nieces to hear comments like this, and with all due respect Mr. O’Reilly, you couldn’t be more wrong.
One of the strongest pharaohs in Egyptian history was Queen Hatshepsut, considered by historians as one of the most successful leaders of Egypt, she reigned for 20 years and during that time Egypt prospered. She was focused on building and ensuring Egypt’s economic prosperity through trade, as well as building and restoring the great monuments and temples, including building the great temple of Djeser-djeseru and the great obelisks at the Temple of Amon at Karnak, which still stand today. Her rule was a time of great peace and prosperity for Egypt — no signs of a gender deficiency that I can see.
Next, we can look at the rule of Queen Elizabeth I. As queen, she took her country out of turmoil and made it one of the world powers of the time, no signs of a gender deficiency there either.
In more recent history we can look at Indira Gandi, who served as India’s third prime minister. During her leadership she brought about great change in agricultural programs that improved the lives of her country’s poor and helped to resolve the dispute of Kashmir by peaceful means, no signs of a gender deficiency there either.
Maybe we could look at Golda Meir, former prime minister of Israel. Described as the Iron Lady of Israeli politics, she was one of 24 signatories of the Israeli Declaration of Independence. As the leader of Israel she guided her country through the devastating attack of its athletes at the Munich Olympics and commanded Israel through the Yom Kippur war of 1973 — still no signs of a gender deficiency.
Perhaps we could look at Margaret Thatcher, another “Iron Lady” who was the longest-serving British prime minister of the 20th century and is the only woman to have held the office. Thatcher became one of the world’s most influential and respected political leaders, doesn’t sound like a gender deficiency there either.
We could also look at Dilma Rousseff, president of Brazil, and the first woman to hold that office. Did her gender deficiency occur when she was jailed and tortured by militant guerillas? Was her gender deficiency responsible for her extreme high approval ratings both personally and as president?
Of course we could and should look at Hillary Clinton, former senator and secretary of state, and a woman who could possibly become the first female president of the United States, perhaps Mr. O’Reilly is suggesting that Mrs. Clinton has a gender deficiency. Did her gender affect her ability to graduate from Yale law school? Was her gender involved in her election to the Senate? Was her gender a part of her appointment as secretary of state?
Women have had their struggles in history — but we have so many incredible examples of powerful female leaders throughout history. Whether Mrs. Clinton becomes the first female U.S. President or not will not be due to any gender deficiencies, and with all due respect Mr. O’Reilly — the only deficiency I can see about female leaders is YOUR antiquated attitude.
Ahwatukee resident, sixth-grade social studies teacher