Today's Washington Post declares this the Era of La Presidenta in South America, thanks to Chile's and Argentina's recent female victors in presidential elections and the possibility that this woman-in-power trend is about to "spread north" through the continent. The Post sees it as a South-America-specific phenom:

Marta Lagos, who conducts polls throughout Latin America and is based in Chile, said both women rose to prominence because their people were desperately seeking a new class of political elites. Like most of the region, both Chile and Argentina were ruled by military dictatorshipsin the 1970s and early 1980s. And as elsewhere on the continent, the politicians who subsequently ushered in democratic rule there failed to convince voters that they were making sufficient progress against problems such as poverty and social inequality.

But look at this World Economic Forum report on the "global gender gap" and you'll see there are a number of countries from surprising regions that rank well above parts of Europe and, certainly, the miserably-ranked U.S. for their female "political empowerment": Bangladesh, South Africa, the Phillippines, India, Croatia, El Salvador. Other countries that don't boast such a high political empowerment rating have a vastly higher rank in "educational attainment," suggesting a class of newly-educated women may rise to power in the future. Some family of mine teaches in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, and reports that higher education classes -- especially those geared towards politics and management -- are often overbalanced with girls 10 to 1; for some reason, they seem more keen and ready than the boys to step up to the immense challenges a leader in that part of the world has to face. (I'd be interested in data that traced, globally, how many women vs. men are now going for higher degrees -- I suspect the gap would, on balance, be more striking than it is in the U.S.) Obviously, not everything is hunky-dory (many of these countries have execrable women's health records), but we may be getting ready for not just a continent but a world run by women.

No jokes in comments that are too cliched (the world's laundry will be cleaner!), please.

--Eve Fairbanks