248% more testing in women led nations & other gender differences in approaches to manage Covid-19

Updated: May 8

There is a global leadership gender gap. With only 12 women heads of government out of 193 countries, voices we are hearing in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic are mainly that of men. As Trump, Trudeau, Modi, Putin, Wan-koo, Zing, assert, defend, blame and lead the war against the pandemic, the total count on Covid-19 has crossed 1.98 million confirmed cases & 126000 deaths today. Covid-19 pandemic is one of the most challenging crisis that the world has seen.

The gravity of the crisis and the fact that this pandemic has a very large global footprint has also made it possible to witness the gender differences in leadership approaches in managing the crisis and its impact.


As Bolsonaro continues to downplay the crisis, Trump stalls WHO funding while Mette Frederiksen Denmark begins reopening schools after it locked down on Mar 13, 2020, we examine some of the leadership approaches that are emerging from women led countries in the wake of this daunting crisis.


We will examine this through emerging evidence over a series of three posts, the first of which is published today.


Women led countries reported 248% more testing compared to countries led by male heads of government. On an average women led nations conducted 21908 tests per million compared to 8818 tests per million conducted in men led nations. (74 of the 190 plus nations affected by Covid-19 have been considered in the analysis. Only countries with at least 1000 total cases of Covid-19 were included)

Katrín Jakobsdóttir of Iceland was one of the earliest leaders to prioritise testing. Free for all Icelanders, with symptoms or not, the testing/screening in Iceland stands at a staggering 106490 per million population, putting the country at least 10X ahead of the country that's garnered a lot of media attention on its testing spree - South Korea with a meagre 10420 per million population. Iceland also topped the list of all countries when it comes to testing. Effective tracking & lockdowns are additional strategies deployed and the country has only reported 8 deaths & a total of 1720 cases till date. India's testing numbers stand at 177 per milion population and that of USA at 9367 per million.



Critical actors/essential service providers - Identifying the relevant critical actors who can be activated during emergencies, when you are not facing an emergency. Preparedness....

We have repeatedly witnessed, even here in India, politicians harnessing the power of social media to power their electoral battles. But it is only one government that has identified social media influencers as critical operators/essential service providers. Finland, led by Sanna Marin, it's 34 year old woman premier is showing the world how social media infuencers and government can work in tandem during a crisis like the Covid-19 pandemic.

Expanding outreach of government announcements and strategies to a millennial audience that necessarily is not looking at traditional media, especially in times of a crisis. Finland's method - enlisting social influencers to contain the pandemic - a joint project of the office of the prime minister, a social media consultancy - PING Helsinki and Mediapool (network of media entities, part of the country's National Emergency Supply Agency). Enlisting social influencers was not a last minute thought (we have witnessed several of those from a wide range of countries) that emerged after Covid-19 had struck. The country had integrated the strategy as part of its preparedness in case an emergency arose. That made activatioin of the strategy during the Covid -19 crisis, simpler than it would have been otherwise. The method - the government’s announcements are appropriated for social sharing by PING which then shares it with a network of 1500 influencers listed with Mediapool who then use words and images of their choice to share it with their audience.


a comparative of Covid-19 incidence & fatality among women & men led countries

(only countries with at least 1000 total Covid-19 cases have been included)





A lot of interest has intensified around the leadership gender gap and a plethora of options arer suggested every day about empowering women to become effective leaders and how the absence of competent women leaders is the reason behind the gender gap, The solutions - some ask women to lean in, others ask them to put up their hands even if they feel they are not ready, to speak up to make their presence felt. In other words women are constantly being asked to emulate leadership approaches used by men in order to prepare themselves as leaders. Confidence is increasingly being equated to competence. After all there are so many men at the top of firms and governments and so few women, the men must be doing something right! or is it that there are too few challenges and obstacles in the path of incompetent men leaders



In our next post we will look at the three things that Angela Merkel of Germany has used in her approach to managing the Covid-19 crisis and a lesson in leadership that we could all take home from the Norwegian premier and the Dane premier's early commitment to cover 75 - 90% of the salary of employees if the private sector committed to not laying off people..



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