Although there are about as many women in the world as men, there is a much larger number of men who are heads-of-state.
A head-of-state is the public leader of a country, for example a president, prime minister, king or queen. The head-of-state is normally also the political leader of their country.
The only female head-of-state Canada has had, out of 22 in Canadian history, was Kim Campbell. She was prime minister for less than a year, in 1993.
In Africa last month, Joyce Banda became just the third female head-of-state in modern African history.
Banda took over for President Bingu Wa Mutharika in Malawi, who died of a heart attack in early April. Until then, Banda had been Malawi’s vice-president, elected in 2005.
Banda is a women’s rights activist. A woman’s rights activist is someone who defends women’s rights in society.
As vice-president, Banda was an outspoken critic of former president Mutharika, who was known to be corrupt and oppressive. One of the first things Banda did as president, though, was to show respect for Mutharika by instituting a 10-day national mourning period.
Although she has only been president for about a month, Banda has made some important changes in Malawi. For example, she has gotten rid of the old chief of police.
It is two years until the next presidential election in Malawi – a country that faces many serious challenges. Of the 15 million people who live in the country, more than half live below the poverty line.
By Kathleen Tilly
Why do you think so few women have been elected to be prime ministers, presidents and heads-of-state?
Reading Prompt: Making Inferences/Interpreting Texts
Even though Banda was a critic of Mutharika, she created a 10-day national mourning period after he died. Why do you think she made this decision? What message does this send to the people in Malawi?
Make inferences about texts using stated and implied ideas from the texts as evidence (OME, Reading: 1.5).
Develop and explain interpretations of increasingly complex or difficult texts using stated and implied ideas from the texts to support their interpretations (OME, Reading: 1.5).
Grammar Feature: Then vs. Than
In this article, ‘then’ and ‘than’ are used. These words look and sound alike, but they mean very different things.
‘Than’ is often used in comparisons. For example, “Of the 15 million people who live in the country, more than half live below the poverty line.”
‘Then’ is often used when referring to time. For example, “Until then, Banda had been Malawi’s vice-president, elected in 2005.”
Write 4 sentences – two using ‘than’ and two using ‘then’. As a challenge, try to write a sentence using both ‘than’ and ‘then’.