On September 29, Tunisia’s president, Kais Saied, named Prof. of Geology Najla Bouden Romdhane as the country’s new prime minister. The newsworthy element about this story is that at a time of intensifying intolerance within the Muslim world, a Muslim country appoints a woman as prime minister. I think it is a wise decision that can pay Tunisia a handsome dividend, and I hope that naming Prof. Romdhane for this high position will mark the beginning of a new and positive Arab Spring.
While it is not for me to speculate on the motive of President Saied in picking a woman for the job, I have no doubt that essentially, a woman is a natural pick for an administrative task. After all, who runs the house? The woman. While the man is usually regarded as the head of the family, the real landlady is, well, the lady. She may stand behind her man, but from there, she runs her husband, as well as everyone and everything else.
Since Biblical times, the man was instructed to follow the woman when it comes to making choices. In Abraham’s case, for example, “God said to Abraham … ‘whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her’” (Gen. 21:12).
Therefore, I think that picking a woman to govern an Arab country is a good choice. I have no doubt that she will face obstacles. She will need to prove herself to her people and to Arab leaders wherever she goes. Nevertheless, it is a welcome revolution that I think will eventually succeed.
It is time that even fundamentalist Muslim cultures will begin to acknowledge the unique power of women, that their word has merit and weight. Throughout the world, we can see the impact of women in every field, and it is time it reached the Muslim world, as well.
Some countries pride themselves in being progressive, when in truth, they place a glass ceiling over women’s heads that blocks their promotion up the ranks of government. I think that such countries are losing. In statesmanship, as at home, ignoring women’s views is a great loss to everyone.
It is written in The Book of Zohar (Beresheet 2): “And the man said, ‘This is now a bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh’ … Now he began to praise her, ‘She shall be called ‘a woman,’ for there are none other like her, the glory of the house.’”
Indeed, a woman at the head of a country will relate to the country as she relates to her home. The citizens will be as her children. If she behaves like a woman instead of trying to fit into the masculine stereotype, she will see to every little detail that is under her influence.
Unlike a man, a woman can multitask very naturally. While men must focus on one task at a time in order to do it well, women can perform multiple duties concurrently without losing concentration on any of them.
Therefore, it is my hope that this welcome change will percolate to more Muslim countries, including the Arab society here in Israel. I have no doubt that it will not be easy, but in the end, if women join the leadership of countries, they will be very instrumental and promote effective solutions to the multiple crises plaguing our world.
Tunisia’s President Kais Saied meets with newly appointed Prime Minister Najla Bouden Romdhane, in Tunis, Tunisia September 29, 2021. Tunisian Presidency/Handout via REUTERS