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Women power: Merkel, May and Clinton can rule the world

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Exercising her right: at 98, Estelle Liebow Schultz was born before women had the right to vote for president. In 2016, she is voting for one. Schultz with her ballot (Photograph courtesy of Roberta Benor)

I was born on June 2, 1918, in New York City. Woodrow Wilson was president, the United States was fighting the First World War and women could not vote in this country.

It would be another two years before women could vote in US elections. But when they could, my mother registered and took me to the polls to watch her cast her ballot.

I cast my first vote in 1940 for Franklin D. Roosevelt, and I have voted in every primary and presidential election since. Contrary to the notion that women of my generation followed their husbands’ lead and voted as the men did, I always voted the way I wanted, and so did the women I knew.

I’ve also never regretted one of my votes. The vote I was most proud of was for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary. She didn’t make it, but I was very proud to vote for her. And this year, I got to vote for her again: I cast an early ballot for Hillary Clinton for president.

In terms of the issues that matter to me in this election, I like the policies that Clinton has been promoting about the middle class, and about education, which I think is the most important. I have a doctorate in educational leadership and spent 40 years in the Compton Unified School District in California. Eventually, I was the assistant superintendent of the district. I worked mostly with men, but I was held in high esteem because I was quiet and fair, and I knew my business. I understood what a quality education should be, and I pushed it to the hilt.

I don’t know if it made a difference to the female students to see me, a woman, in leadership, but I know my students appreciated me — Marv Fleming, a four-times Super Bowl champion, was my student when I was an English teacher. He came back every year to visit me.

I tried to train all the people under me to be leaders, and they were. When I went back for a reunion, I was greeted by three people when I walked in, all former students and a mixture of men and women. One was a mayor, one was a state official and one was a college professor.

I never thought much about a woman being president, or about any women who might have been good presidents. There were no role models for that. When Hillary Clinton was in the White House as First Lady, I never imagined her running for president. But I also never thought much about whether we would have a black president before I voted for Barack Obama in 2008. I was astonished when he was elected. He also happens to be the best president we have had in my lifetime. He has such a dynamic personality, in his own quiet way.

When it came time to decide for whom to vote this year, I didn’t like Bernie Sanders or anyone on the Republican side — I have no comment on Donald Trump. I was centred on Hillary. I feel she is qualified. What she has done for the past 30 years or more is make her mark on the world. She is well known and well loved all over the world. And she has tremendous and powerful experience.

Women do bring something different to office: a sensitivity that most men don’t have. I saw the election of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May. Merkel, May and Hillary would be a wonderful triad to rule the world. Maybe they would be able to bring about some peace and quality growth that hasn’t happened yet.

What surprises me most about today’s politics is how vicious the campaigns are. The reporting of the campaign is too nasty; no privacy whatsoever for the candidates. If someone sneezes, it is reported. Candidates hurt each other, and that is bad. I don’t think that happened previously. It was more dignified. Today, this is like a catfight.

But Hillary will do well as president. She does not have to worry about world connections. They adore her everywhere. She has to rebuild some confidence in the United States, and she must be given a chance to do that. The countries of the world know her and enjoy her and appreciate her. It’s about time we did, too.

•Estelle Schultz is a lifelong educator who now lives in Rockville, Maryland

Estelle Schultz working in a plant during the Second World War (Family photograph)