Singapore appoints first female president
Last week, Halimah Yacob was sworn in as Singapore’s first female president. Yacob is also the first Muslim Malay to hold the office in forty-seven years in the affluent, ethnically Chinese-dominated city state. Although Yacob won the election by default, as she was the only eligible candidate to run after two competitors were denied eligibility, her victory represents significant change for a government that has been led by the same political party for decades and historically has been marked by low rates of women’s participation. Before assuming the presidency, Yacob was the speaker of parliament, where she built a reputation for advocating for minority inclusion, women’s rights, and social issues.
Norway re-elects Erna Solberg
Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg won a historic reelection last week, marking the first time in thirty years that a Conservative Party Leader secured a second consecutive term. Labeled by observers the “biggest election thriller in many decades,” Solberg’s narrow win highlights the concerns of many Norwegians over the country’s sluggish economic growth, dependency on oil revenue, and what experts predict may be a looming recession. Solberg, whose pragmatic center-right style of governing has been compared to that of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, was named Norway’s most influential woman earlier this year. She is the country’s second female prime minister, following Gro Harlem Brundtland, who headed the government for more than ten years. Norway and Germany are two of the twenty-three European counties, a majority in the bloc, that have had women leaders.
United Nations launches new measures to combat sexual violence
On Monday, senior officials from fifty-seven countries joined UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to discuss efforts to end sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping missions around the world. Guterres announced new measures to tackle the problem, including a mandate for investigators to examine allegations within seventy-two hours of a report, bans on alcohol and fraternization for troops, the appointment of the first-ever UN rights advocate for victims, and the establishment of a new accountability mechanism. Seventy-five countries signed or pledged to sign a compact outlining these steps toward curbing the tide of sexual violence. Participants in the meeting also focused on improving global efforts to recruit and train female peacekeepers, with Guterres saying that deploying more women peacekeepers will result in “higher reporting of incidents and lower numbers of incidents overall.”