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Prime Minister Salutes Women’s Power!

by Shari Graydon

OK, let’s put that headline in the category of ones we’d like to see… Unfortunately, it’s missing a six-letter word. As in “former”.

Yesterday’s WomensNews service featured an excerpt from a new book by Gloria Feldt, called No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think about Power. In it Feldt acknowledges that although some external barriers continue to hold women back (see Saturday’s Globe and Mail story about the Canadian business context), women themselves often have conflicted relationships with power. Among the problems is the fact that social-cultural pressures deem wanting it or seeking it un-feminine.

As one memorable case in point, during the 1993 federal election campaign, then Prime Minster Kim Campbell was criticized for being overly ambitious, a condemnation I’ve never seen applied to male politicians. (Because, um, doesn’t someone who seeks to lead, by definition, have to be ambitious?)

In her book, Feldt quotes the Right Honorable Ms. Campbell putting to rest the dilemma many woman face in a typically powerfully and succinct way:

“Look, power exists. Somebody is going to have it. If you would exercise it ethically, why not you? I love power. I’m power-hungry because when I have power I can make things happen, can serve my community, can influence decisions, I can accomplish things.”

You go girl!

(And writing op eds, saying yes to interviews, contributing ideas and analyses to the public discourse?  These activities increase a woman’s personal and professional power, making it easier for her to accomplish things.)