Make way for the Power Lady!

Let me tell you right away that I really like the term ‘Power Lady’. Not all women agree with me, though. Some even say ‘Power Lady’ is an affront to women. Why do we reserve the word ‘power’ for a strong minded and accomplished woman, while no one calls a man like that a ‘Power Man’?

I think there is absolutely no need to to feel victimized. Because a real Power Lady is following her own path, rather than obsessing over what men are getting or claiming. Without bragging, media attention seeking or a sense of entitlement, she goes on, powered by her female intelligence. Dubbing her a ‘Power Lady’ is a tribute to her organizational skills, her unobtrusive firmness and her eye for the business as well as the human side there is to life.

With the media’s penchant for typecasting, suddenly every successful fashion vlogger, supermodel or just plain feisty woman is presented to us as a Power Lady. This cheapens and deflates the whole concept. Power Ladies could bring us a different type of power and leadership from what we are used to. I’m thinking of women like Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate. Maybe she is too young to be in the Power Lady league, but with her intelligence and poise she has been making a profound impression on audiences all over the world since she was 15 years old. The world needs more women like Malala!

A country that has happily surrendered to Power Lady-leadership is Iceland. In 1980 the country elected Vigdís Finnbogadóttir as the first female president in the world. (Margaret Thatcher made prime minister in 1979, but she was appointed).These days, women CEOs are in every Icelandic boardroom. And recently a new equal pay law went into effect. Companies are now mandated to pay men and women equally for equal jobs. Do you think it is a coincidence that since the World Happiness Report started in 2012 Iceland has always made the Top 5? Under female leadership, Icelanders report that they feel happy and in control of their own lives.

I must admit that I am a little envious of the contemporary Icelandic Power Lady culture. In The Netherlands, the words ‘Power Lady’ still conjure up Neelie Kroes – and have done so for 20 years! She deserves every ounce of our admiration with her impressive career, but she will be 77 years old this July. Where is the next generation of Power Ladies? Is there no more room for Power Ladies in our country? Don’t we have any new and upcoming Power Ladies, or are we simply overlooking them?

As I am writing this, it is International Women’s Day 2018, and the motto is ‘Press for Progress’. It would be fantastic to see new Power Ladies world wide step forward to become inspiring leaders and role models for all women. And it would certainly be great if some of them were Dutch too!