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For Women’s Equality Day, this charming video of world leaders’ wives shows we’re not there yet

  • Annalisa Merelli
By Annalisa Merelli

Senior reporter based in New York City

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

“Melania, Brigitte, Małgosia and Akie—The light side of the Force,” writes European Council president and Instagram pro Donald Tusk, when he posted a lovely vignette from the G7 meeting in Biarritz.

Jasna strona Mocy,” he repeats in his native Polish, once again quoting Star Wars.

Isn’t this video a picture of grace? The wives of world leaders, their hair and skirts ruffled by the French coastal wind, look out at the horizon as the waves crush on the shores of Biarritz.

They are enchanted by the view: Małgorzata Tusk and Akie Abe close to Brigitte Macron, who is gesturing—likely to show all the land and sea her husband rules over; Melania Trump stands by herself, perhaps her own choice, perhaps mildly ostracized for wearing silver heels, a blatant infraction of the agreed-upon dress code. On Sunday, the first ladies wear white, and black shoes.

They are the light side of the force, writes Tusk, and at the very least, they look it.

How bright! How elegant! How proper! They embody all that is good and just and worth fighting for, gently introducing, at dinner time, noble thoughts into the minds that run the world. There for the conversation and to diffuse the tension—isn’t this force truly light?

Surely lighter than the force sitting at the actual table, working away indoors: Whoever would want to be Angela Merkel, with no time to contemplate the waves? It’s no wonder she is hiding behind Justin Trudeau, it’s so clear what side her womanly kind longs to join.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
The dark force

Further proof, here she is, wearing a compromise suit—white blazer for the ladies, black pants to fit in with the gentlemen—looking away in the group photograph. Perhaps she is wondering if she’ll manage to get to the gals before they finish the prosecco?

AP Photo/Francois Mori
Angela Merkel looks wistfully over to her right.

Though shot a day in advance, Tusk’s video stands as a great homage to women’s equality—which gets a whole day a year (and that day is today!)—and a perfect assessment of its state.

Behind every great man, it reminds us, there’s still a woman—who can’t get ahead, because the dudes are in her way. It’s 2019, and men take up six of the seven seats at the G7 table. They take up seven of the eight G8 seats, and 12 of the 13 slots in the G8+5, the group set up for climate dialogues.

At the G20, Merkel sits with 19 men, which is actually a better representation of the actual state of women’s global political leadership: Out of 167 countries in the world that are considered democracies, 12 have governments led by women.

📬 A periodic dispatch from the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly in NYC.

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