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Michelle Bachelet Ex-President of Chile, Essay Example

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Essay

This noteworthy quote by Michelle Bachelet, Ex-president of Chile, is a testament to her own accomplishment of becoming the first female president of her country, and it is a statement that expresses one of her primary concerns and passions, and that is the fair and equal treatment of women all across the globe.

This essay will examine Michelle Bachelet’s biography, her educational and career achievements, her political accomplishments and her post-Presidential occupation, and will give insight into how she became who she is today.

Biography

Michelle Bachelet is the former President of Chile which is officially called the Republic of Chile, and is a country located in South America near Peru, Bolivia and Argentina just east of the Pacific Ocean. She was born Verónica Michelle Bachelet Jeria in Santiago, Chile on September 29, 1951. Michelle Bachelet has three children, Sabastian, Francisca and Sofia. Her mother is Angela Jeria Gomez, an archeologist and her father was a General in the Chilean Air Force. (UNWomen.org).

Michelle had somewhat of a troubled family life. According to Humanist Profile, her father, Alberto Bachelet Martinez, was a general in the Chilean Air Force. His work required to move the family often, Michelle’s father was assigned to a mission at the Chilean Embassy in Washington, DC in 1962. In 1973, the government of President Salvador Allende was overthrown by the Chilean military which lead to the rule of dictator, General Augusto Pinochet. During this time of political upheaval, Michelle Bachelet’s father opposed the dictator rule, refused exile, and was accused of treason, arrested and tortured. Six months later, he died from a heart attack in 1974 under the stress of the torture he endured (1). Losing her father in this manner may have driven Michelle’s will to succeed and rise above the adversity.

As a result of these events, Michelle and her mother joined the Socialist Party’s movement of resistance. This led to their kidnapping and detainment in prison, where they were tortured and beaten, and later released into exile. Michelle traveled to Australia with her mother and then to Germany. While in Germany she met and married a fellow Chilean exile and gave birth to her first child. In 1979, Michelle and her family returned to Chile where she continued with her education (Humanist Profile 1). This shows Michelle’s determination to remain loyal to her country and to follow through with her educational goals.

Education

Michelle Bachelet has a varied educational background than spans over a twelve year period. In the 1970s, Michelle Bachelet studied medicine at Humboldt University of Berlin. She also attended the National Academy of Strategy and Policy in Chile. She graduated, with a medical degree, from the University of Chile in 1982, and specialized in pediatrics and public health. In 1997, she attended the Inter-American Defense College. Michelle also studied military sciences at the War Academy of the Chilean Army. Her educational credits also include fluency in five languages, Spanish, English, German, French and Portuguese (UNWomen.org). Michelle’s educational accomplishments are admirable in that she is a positive example to other women who want to accomplish similar goals, and they also qualify her for her future career and personal achievements.

Career and Achievements

After she graduated from the University of Chile in 1982, Michelle worked at the Roberto del Río Hospital, in the fields of pediatrics and public health. In 1990, democracy was restored in Chile and Michelle began working in Santiago as an epidemiologist (Humanist Profile 1). Michelle later became a Health Ministry Consultant in 1994. In this role she specialized in issues concerning healthcare services management and primary care. In 1998, she became Senior Advisor of the Ministry of Defense in Chile (UNWomen.org). This is an impressive accomplishment, considering her attendance at the Inter-American Defense College was just the year prior.

According to Humanist Profile (1), Michelle Bachelet was appointed Minister of Health in 2000. She worked in this role for two years in which she improved primary care and the quality of care for the public health system by extending medical and dental coverage in the public health system. With this achievement, Michelle extended a personal touch to her work by focusing on the human element and helping those who needed it most.

Politics

In addition to her educational, personal and career achievements, Michelle Bachelet adds political achievements to her list of accomplishments. As reported by UNWomen.org, Michelle’s political involvement began in 1996 when she was chosen, by the Central Committee of the Socialist Party, to run for city council of Las Condes, a Santiago-area district. She belonged to the party’s Political Committee from 1998 to 2000. She also worked as campaign manager for President Ricardo Lagos. Additionally, in 2002, President Lagos named Michelle as head of the Defense Ministry of Chile, making her the first Latin American woman to hold this position. In 2004, Michelle resigned from the Defense Ministry to focus on her own presidential campaign (UNWomen.org). This is a time in Michelle’s life that it appears she is ready to pursue a higher calling. All of her experiences, education, occupations and political involvements groomed her for confidently running for president of Chile.

In 2006, Michelle Bachelet won the election for President of Chile, becoming the first female president of Chile. Her policies included increasing social benefits for the poor and keeping the Chilean economy strong by preserving the free-market agenda. Additionally, according to Latta & Aguayo (165), Michelle Bachelet’s administration was charged with an environmental agenda that included passing a law to protect native forests, creating a new Ministry of Energy to promote energy efficiency, passing new norms on air pollution, initiating legislative processes for closure of mine sites and reforming the legal and administrative framework for environmental governance. Under Michelle Bachelet’s term, many significant environmental reforms were passed by the end of her term in 2010.

It is noteworthy to point out that, according to Lieberfeld (1), Michelle Bachelet is considered to be a reconciliation-oriented leader, as reflected by her style of leadership during her presidency. This refers to her tendencies toward reconciling with former adversaries to repair social and institutional relationships in the country, instead of responding with resentment and a desire to get even. This reconciliation-oriented type of leadership has also been attributed to other prominent leaders who were victims of oppression such as Nelson Mandela (Lieberfeld 1). In relation to this, Michelle Bachelet made national reconciliation a priority, as a political leader by encouraging improvements in civil-military relations and democratic military controls. Michelle success in these areas stem from her “studying military culture and thought as a means of helping bridge the country’s political divide” (Lieberfeld 310). It is also noted that Michelle Bachelet’s family military history and the tragedies of her past allowed her to successfully reconcile civilians and the military. Also, her defense ministry work boosted her reputation with politicians and the military, and she was seen as an effective consensus builder needed for the effective implementation of reconciliatory policies during her tenure as president. Michelle served as President of Chile for a full four year term.

Post-Presidential Term

In 2010, after her presidential term, Michelle Bachelet was appointed as head of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women “UN Women” by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The UN Women advocate for gender equality as a basic human right and believes in empowering women to fuel thriving economies and to spur economic productivity and growth in various countries. The vision of UN Women includes eliminating discrimination against women and girls, empowering women and achieving “equality between women and men as partners and beneficiaries of development, human rights, humanitarian action and peace and security” (UNWomen.org). In her role for UN Women, Michelle Bachelet is instrumental in the violence against women initiative and stated “Violence against women is a human rights and public health emergency. But, it is not inevitable. With sufficient political will, funding, and carefully developed and targeted programs, violence against women can be significantly reduced” (Humanist Profile 1). This is particularly interesting because Michelle Bachelet knows, first hand, what it is like to be a target of abuse and she is an advocate against that happening to other women.

Michelle Bachelet is a woman of distinction, determination, drive and good will. She rose above personal tragedy and adversity to high levels of educational, career, personal and political achievement. She is an example of what any woman can aspire to be in a world mostly dominated by men. She is also a teacher, a leader, a counselor, and an advocate for women’s equality all across the globe. It is something she is passion about and it shows in her list of accomplishments that are a testament to who she is.

Works Cited

“Gender equality must become a lived reality.” Michelle Bachelet quote. Web. 18 Nov. 2012 http://www.unwomen-usnc.org/.

Humanist Profile. Michelle Bachelet. American Humanist Association. OmniFile Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson), 2011. Web. 18 Nov. 2012.

Latta, Alex, and Beatriz E. Cid Aguayo. “Testing The Limits: Neoliberal Ecologies From

Pinochet To Bachelet.” Latin American Perspectives, 39(4) 2012: 163-180. OmniFile Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson), Web. 16 Nov. 2012.

Lieberfeld, Daniel. Reconciliation-oriented leadership: Chilean president Michelle Bachelet. Peace and Conflict. Journal of Peace Psychology, 17(3), 2011: 303-325. Print.

UN Women.org. Biographical Sketch: Michelle Bachelet, 2011. Web. 10 Nov. 2012.

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