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Opinion
Andreas Kluth

Women Have Been Better Leaders Than Men During the Pandemic

Countries run by female leaders are clearly doing better at controlling Covid-19. Why?

The female touch?

The female touch?

Photographer: Mark Mitchell-Pool/Getty Images

The evidence is in: At least during the first wave of Covid-19, countries with female leaders suffered far lower death rates than comparable nations led by men. This doesn’t mean that the trend will necessarily persist in a second or third wave. Nor does it imply that women are also better leaders when it comes to whatever else governments find themselves doing, from reforming labor markets to waging war. But it’s worth pondering nonetheless.

In doing so, it’s of course tempting to descend into the netherworld of gender stereotypes and individual caricature. Donald Trump, president of the country with the most deaths from Covid-19, has communicated with an uninformed machismo that has provoked reactions ranging from shock to satire. Jair Bolsonaro, president of Brazil, the runner-up in coronavirus deaths, has pooh-poohed the disease as a “little flu.”