Female leaders doing 'better job' in virus crisis, says Lagarde

Lagarde is herself the first woman to hold the top job at the European Central Bank (AFP Photo/FREDERICK FLORIN) (AFP/File)

Frankfurt am Main (AFP) - Female leaders are doing a better job handling the coronavirus crisis, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde said Wednesday, praising them for their honest communication and for showing they cared.

The differences in policies and communication were "quite stunning" in countries led by women, she said in an online interview with The Washington Post.

"I am going to be extremely biased. I'm not going to be a central banker at this very moment but I would say that for myself, I've learned that women tend to do a better job," she said.

Lagarde, who is the ECB's first female president, singled out German Chancellor Angela Merkel for praise.

She cited Merkel's science-based approach as an example of how "very honest, transparent" explanations on coronavirus data and infection rates helped members of the public appreciate why masks, social distancing and confinement measures were necessary.

"It became very quickly sort of a common lingua franca, common knowledge that people would understand those scientific elements," Lagarde said.

The female leaders of Taiwan, Belgium and New Zealand had also "carried the water of bad news as well as the water of clear explanation and strong recommendations", she added.

Germany has weathered the coronavirus crisis better than many of its European neighbours, while Taiwan and New Zealand are considered success stories in the fight against the pandemic.

By contrast, observers have noted that male, populist leaders like US President Donald Trump, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have struggled to contain the outbreaks in their countries.

Former French finance minister Lagarde, 64, said leadership was about "being both responsible and accountable".

"It's about caring as well... I think the caring dimension is something that (female leaders) managed to express well. And that was considered by viewers and voters probably as authentic."