Woman Chilean president’s advice to girls: Don’t be a superwoman
THE FIRST woman president of Chile—whose accomplishments in the political sphere are nothing short of extraordinary—has some modest advice for young women today: Don’t try to be a superwoman.
Chile President Michelle Bachelet exhorted young women to have solidarity in the struggle to increase their political participation, in a dialogue with the youth held at Miriam College in Quezon City on Tuesday.
Bachelet, 64, who is in Manila on a state visit and for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, was asked by a student for “advice on leadership, love and relationships.”
The president let out a loud sigh, before saying with self-deprecating humor: “I’m not sure I’m the best model because I’m a single mother now.”
Bachelet’s father, a military general who opposed the military junta under Gen. Augusto Pinochet, was arrested, tortured and died under police custody in 1974. Bachelet and her mother were also tortured and they later went on exile in Australia and East Germany.
Bachelet married a fellow Chilean exile and the family returned to Chile in 1979. The couple separated after their second child in 1984.
After the fall of the military junta in 1990, Bachelet, a pediatrician, became active in the Socialist Party and took military courses. She was appointed health minister and then defense minister, the first woman in Latin America to hold the post.
She was elected president in 2006 and reelected in 2014.
“In any field, not only politics, we have to understand, there’s no such thing as a superwoman,” Bachelet, the founding executive director of UN Women, told the students and civil society groups in the Marian auditorium.
“What women should do when we are in leadership positions, especially when starting young, there should be some network of women to support you, there should be more solidarity among women,” she said.
“The essential thing is not to try to be a leader alone. It has to be a collective action. Don’t try to be a superwoman. Because that will only bring frustrations, of course.”
Bachelet was also asked about trade liberalization and how it affected local workers who don’t have much support for competing with the entry of foreign products.
She said she was optimistic the Davos negotiations would address the protection of special groups such as rural women, farmers and fishermen.
“It’s not just about free trade agreements, it’s about the world being interconnected,” she said.
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