Women as leaders

  • 2001-12-20
  • Memo Merlino
The fabric of society in all three Baltic countries is held together by women, who have exceptional qualities of endurance, intelligence and adaptability. Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian women, with their loving and gracious ways, have a critical role to play in the present and future of the country.

From a very young age to old age, girls and women are very rooted into local traditions and culture, a precious gift from the past.

Girls are dedicated students interested in learning all sorts of subjects from art to languages, during their school years. They excel in many fields and have a great deal of perseverance in achieving their goals in education.

Women work hard, on many occasions as the sole breadwinner in the family. While there are exceptions, many women in the Baltic states never reach their full potential, as they are relegated to jobs as shop clerks, medical assistants, office clerks and other dead-end jobs.

Women show many strengths and strong moral values. Girls have great role models to emulate in their mothers, who are always ready to sacrifice themselves for the good of the family. Women in the Baltic states readily give up their dreams of achieving personal ambitions, when the need to do so appears compelling.

But like men, they seem to be held back by a post-Soviet mentality, and they deserve better in many fields. Women's abilities are not given due credit in management, professions and politics. While Latvia has a wonderful and charming woman as president, we don't see women as mayors, company executives, school directors and other prominent positions as often as we should.

Decision-making escapes the realm of activities for women, and this is a serious shortcoming for the country.

The contribution women make to the well-being of Latvian society is exceptional and yet poorly recognized. The younger generations of girls and young women, while still embracing the nurturing qualities of their mothers, are much more assertive and have clear ideas of where they are going with their goals.

This bodes well for the region's future leadership, as women's submissive roles are shed in favor of prominent ones. Girls and young women have understood the value of freedom and are freeing themselves from the Soviet mold they were forced into during the past decades.

Yet, in their enthusiasm of embracing freedom, they have kept intact their sense of values and self-imposed discipline.

The acknowledgment of women as equal contributing partners in society is a long process that is in need of acceleration. The rules of the game need to change in favor of establishing an even field, where talent, innovative thinking, creativity and character are recognized as the only venue for selecting leadership.

A country's mental health suffers if predetermined roles are imposed either by dictum or tradition, and it only improves markedly if the shackles are removed. Maintaining a balance between rearing children and taking on a leadership position in society is a real challenge. Latvian women have the fortitude and the disposition to be successful in being effective leaders as well as wives and mothers.