Many Indonesians are drawing parallels. During the recent unrest in Jakarta, it became fashionable to compare the ousted chairman of the Indonesian Democratic Party, Megawati Sukarnoputri, with female counterparts elsewhere in Asia, who also started as opposition leaders but sometimes went on to rule their nations. The analogies are compelling. Like Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi, Ms Megawati is the daughter of a one-time national hero - her father, President Sukarno, was independent Indonesia's first ruler. Like the former president of the Philippines, Corazon Aquino, she benefits from popular anger over corruption. Comparisons can also be drawn with Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who Ms Megawati counts as a friend, and with assassinated Indian premier Indira Gandhi. Both were daughters of prominent statesmen. Ms Megawati is prone to play down such parallels. However, there is no denying the consistency of the pattern across the region. In the West, women with no family background in politics have risen to lead their nations. But, in Asia, virtually every female leader has been the wife or daughter of a prominent politician. Not only that, but, in most cases, their husband or father was murdered by opponents, so creating a groundswell of public sympathy and allowing the wife or daughter to be portrayed as continuing his legacy. Further examples include Bangladeshi Premier Sheikh Hasina Wajed, daughter of the nation's first leader, and Sri Lanka's Sirimavo Bandaranaike, who succeeded her husband as Prime Minister after his assassination. In China, Jiang Qing nearly made it to power by virtue of being the wife of Chairman Mao Zedong. Almost the only Asian woman to reach a position of political prominence without following this pattern is Hong Kong's Chief Secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang. Since Mrs Chan was appointed by a British colonial administration, that only reinforces how the Western system allows women to make it to the top on their own, while Asian society requires a powerful family background. It is true that sons as well as daughters have inherited their father's mantle. In India, not only Indira Gandhi but also her son Rajiv carried on the family tradition of serving as prime minister. The difference is that men can still make it to the top even without such family connections. However, the conservative nature of most Asian political systems seems to mean that only women who benefit from the widow factor, or act as dutiful daughters, can expect to do likewise. Indeed, when Ms Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest last year, almost her first act was to lay a wreath on her father's tomb, so reinforcing the popular image of her as daughter of an independence hero. Ms Aung San Suu Kyi also shows that having the right family background is no guarantee of success. Despite her political skills, and a 1990 election victory, she is still far from toppling Burma's military junta. Others, such as Mrs Aquino, had charisma to compensate for their lack of political experience. Ms Megawati, who emphatically rejects the idea of leading a Phillipines-style 'people power' movement, has neither. After a decade in parliament, the mild-mannered housewife remains so low-profile she can point to no real achievements. Nor can she articulate any vision, instead resorting to a vague patter about corruption and social problems. Ms Megawati may be the woman of the moment after last week's unrest. But she has yet to show the ability to follow in the footsteps of her sisters elsewhere in Asia. Furthermore, she lacks one of their most fundamental characteristics. Although daughter of an independence hero, her father died a natural death. So there is no groundswell of sympathy to draw on, nor can she claim to continue his legacy, since few Indonesians would wish to see a return to the chaos of President Sukarno's days.