ABSTRACT

In 2006 Liberia elected its fi rst woman president-who was also the fi rst elected female head of state on the entire African continent. That same year, Michelle Bachelet was elected president of Chile, the fi rst time a woman held that post for that country. She proceeded to appoint a Cabinet that was 50 per cent female.1 Both women presidents have been unapologetic and strong promoters of women’s rights and gender equality, unlike some other women who have won high offi ce. Are these high-profi le successes of governing women, women determined to make a difference for other women, signs that feminists are fi nding a more secure home in the political world? Will they be effective in advancing women’s rights in contexts where this can be seen as counter-cultural and still arouse intense resistance? What does it take for women in offi ce, and men too, to make a difference for all women?