Marie C. Wilson

Almost a decade ago, I attended a women-and-power conference in Salzburg, Austria. During a seminar there, a majestic African rose slowly to address the group. “Sisters,” she said, sweeping the auditorium with an imaginary broom, “we will lead. When things get really messy, we always get to clean up.”

How prophetic. In 2006, women heads of state have emerged from some of the world's historically messiest places: Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany; Han Myung-Sook, prime minister of South Korea; Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, president of Liberia; Michelle Bachelet, president of Chile. Even in macho France, Marie Ségolène Royal, an unmarried mother (like Bachelet), has entered the political fray and might just become ...

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