Washington, D.C., is buzzing about New York Sen. Hillary Clinton. Some have called her the future president, others, like Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, say she is too angry to be a viable candidate for the Democrats.Marie Wilson, president of White House Project, a nonprofit group that promotes women for president, said even Afghanistan is more open-minded about women in government.
Perhaps the presidential talk surrounding Clinton indicates that the United States is ready to accept a woman president and ready to catch up with the rest of the world. Women are now heads of state in Germany, Liberia and Chile. Finland's president, Tarja Halonen, was just re-elected last week. But in the United States, shifting the balance of power between men and women has been a slow, and sometimes frustrating process.
According to women on the political front lines, the difficulty of unseating incumbents, the campaign finance system and cultural attitudes all work to keep women from coming to power in the United States. Nevertheless, many say the stage is set for a female presidential candidate in 2008.
Wilson said she would like to see the United States develop a quota system similar to the one in South Africa, in which 30 percent of parliament seats must go to women. Even the new governments in Iraq and Afghanistan have quotas that put a higher ratio of women in government than currently serve in the United States, Wilson said.