27 September 2023

Women and Leadership: Real Lives, Real Lessons

Start the conversation

Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

By Julia Gillard & Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Penguin Books, $22.99.

Women and Leadership is an authoritative aide-memoire from two high-achieving women: former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, and an economist and international development expert Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

The late Madeleine K. Albright, the first woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of State, had this to say about the book: “… a powerful reminder that there is no limit to what women can accomplish when we have the chance. Written by two celebrated, trailblazing leaders, it is a deeply personal portrait of the obstacles women in politics have overcome and the barriers we still face. Every page of this book is brimming with candor, wisdom and humor—leaving the reader rightfully convinced that while women still have to try a little harder and fight a little longer, sooner or later we will get the job done.”

Both Julia and Ngozi have felt a real clarity of purpose, a sense of urgency, a “passionate belief in gender equality and tearing frustration that we have not yet achieved it.”

Their shared story began in 2011 when, as Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Ngozi came to Australia for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting which was chaired by Julia. It was a friendship that developed as they found themselves at many global events in their roles as chairs of major international development funds. Their conversations about women leaders led them to think “women leaders all seem to be facing the same kinds of problems”.

Their discussions took on a new earnestness after Hillary Clinton lost the U.S. presidential election. They had now moved on from anecdotes to more structured conversations. Women and Leadership not only furthers their own thinking, but it will enlighten and motivate everyone. In it they share the experience and advice of some of our most extraordinary women leaders, in their own words, including Jacinda Ardern, Hillary Clinton, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Theresa May, Michelle Bachelet, Joyce Banda, Erna Solberg and Christine Lagarde.

As a result of their broad experience on the world stage in politics, economics and global not-for-profits, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Julia Gillard have some strong ideas about the impact of gender on the treatment of leaders. This publication takes a consistent and comprehensive approach to teasing out what is different for women who lead.

Yes, the content informs and inspires, and we do enjoy the occasional laugh-out loud.

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.