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Swift, Smart and Bold Covid 19 Strategies Do Pay-Off: The Case of Selected Countries with Male- and Female-Headed Governments 

Posted: Monday, April 27, 2020. 9:07 pm CST.

The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.

By Marcelino Avila, PhD: While reviewing over the weekend the most recent reports and data on the Covid-19 epidemic around the world, my wife Mili injected an interesting question – who is doing better in managing this emergency of a pandemic, men or women as heads of government? I did not know, so I went to find out. And here are some data and observations on this gender leadership issue.

The table below has the most recent data as of 25 April 2020 for 10 comparable countries, 5 of them led by males and another 5 led by females. All 10 countries are well developed and flourishing democracies, with the USA being the biggest by far. The 2 groups of countries are compared in terms of 6 performance criteria:  number of total (confirmed) cases of Covid, total cases per 1 million of population (1 M pop), tests administered per 1 M pop, total recovered as percent of total cases, total cases as percent  of total tested, and total deaths per 1 M pop.


World and Country

Tot Cases/
1 M pop
1 M pop
Recovered, %
Total Cases/ Total Tested, %  Total Deaths/ 1 M pop
World (>200 countries/


2,864,370 367 N/A 29 NA 25.8
Male-led  Governments
USA 929,028 2,807 15,325 12 11 158
Spain 223,759 4,786 19,896 43 19 490
Italy 192,994 3,192 27,164 31 11 430
France 159,828 2,449 7,103 27 34 341
United Kingdom 148,377 2,186 9,439 N/A 22 299
Average 330,797     3,084 15,784 28 19.4 344
Female-led  Governments
Germany 155,418 1,855 24,738 71 10 69
Denmark 8,445 1,458 23,607 67 6 72
Finland 4,475 808 14,041 56 6 34
New Zealand 1,461 303 23,851 77 1 4
Taiwan 429 18 2,513 64 1 0.3
Average 34,045 888 17,750 67 4.8 36
Belize 18 45 2,052 28 2 5

Source:     https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

The results are clearly impressive in favour of the female-headed governments. The average rates for the male-led governments are:

  • total cases per million is more than 3 times larger,
  • tests administered per million is almost twice higher,
  • total recovered is less than half,
  • total cases as a percent of those tested is almost 4 times, and
  • total deaths per million population is more than 9 times larger

So how did the female leaders manage so well? Most of the difference is explained by their swift, smart and bold actions to contain and suppress the pandemic. For the women leaders, their decision-making criteria and multi-tasking prowess were more about health of the people and less about the health of the economy, more about being science-led and less about politics, more about action and less about just talking, and more about cooperation and less about personalities. Male-led governments wasted valuable time at the beginning of the pandemic, for example, allowing football matches in Spain and Italy, the UK with its “herd immunity” policy, and the US with the hoax conspiracy.

Clearly, if governments, even before the onset, had taken action in earnest, i.e. proper hygienic practices, wearing masks, physical distancing, testing and contact tracing, banning large gatherings, and even complete lockdowns, if needed, a very high pay-off surely comes in the form of less suffering of the people, less public expenditures and less negative impact on economic growth.  And more than that, the country is better prepared for re-opening the economy and getting the people back to work, and better prepared for a possible second wave of the pandemic. Respect to the great women leaders!

I inserted the same data for Belize at the bottom of the table. Although we yet have to feel the real brunt of Covid-19, one can observe from the table we are doing well. Being a small country, we do have some advantages for rapid mobilization, but there is room for improving our rate of testing and the rate of those recovering from the infection, to reach the level of superior performance of the female-led governments. No additional comment is merited here other than to note that although the Belize government is male-led, our overall performance puts us in the good standing of the female-led grouping.




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