2 Items

German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a speech about German government's policies to combat the spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19 disease at the parliament Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020.

AP Photo/Markus Schreiber

Policy Brief

What We Can Learn From the Wonder Women of COVID-19

| November 2020

The one good news story of 2020 seems to have been the rise of female leadership. In April, a Washington Post headline declared that female leaders were “hailed as voices of reason amid the coronavirus chaos.” High-profile figures like German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen emerged as perfect foils to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and U.S. President Donald Trump. 

Since then, our research confirmed that male-led countries had 1.9 times more COVID-19 deaths per million than their female counterparts during the first five months after outbreak or roughly the first wave of coronavirus. However, despite the appealing headlines, our research also found that there is a catch: female leaders did not perform better because of their sex, but rather because of their leadership skills.

We tested four popular theories commentators put forward to explain the coronavirus gender gap. Were female leaders more likely to: involve experts in decisions, show empathy, communicate instructions clearly, or take early action to avoid loss of life? 

A woman walks with her child in a refugee camp in the western Darfur region of Sudan. This photograph was taken sometime in October of 2004.

Mercy Corps

Paper - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Implementing the Global Fragility Act

| July 2020

The Global Fragility Act (GFA), passed in December 2019, commits the U.S. Government to focus on conflict prevention in its foreign aid strategy. The following policy analysis provides background and context, a country and region selection approach, analysis of Ethiopia and Guatemala as potential priority countries, and recommendations for country and region selection, principles for delivery, principles for monitoring and evaluation, multi-level coordination, and overall strategy formation.