Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

CGI2011: Women’s Rights: What’s In It for Men?

As regular—well, obsessive–readers know, I’m stealing a title from the sainthood-destined Michèle Tertilt.  But it seems appropriate—and a better title than “Engaging Boys and Men as Allies for Long-term Change”—for today’s Plenary hosted by Former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.

We got a taste of this yesterday, on the panel hosted by Robin Roberts (now a host at Good Morning, America, apparently; I stopped paying attention to her career after she left ESPN, around the time I stopped paying attention to ESPN), when Dikembe Mutombo declared that having daughters had changed his worldview, no to mention a CGI member from the floor who reminded anyone who had forgotten that the doors that opened for Roberts herself were largely driven by the opportunities created by Title IX, If you treat half of the population as if it only consume and can never produce, you lose opportunities. When you stop doing it, opportunities open and the pie gets larger.

Gary Thomas Barker, the International Director of Instituto Promundo, notes that two-thirds of the men in the world don’t abuse women, and that we need to move closer to 100%, since abuse reduces chances of economic development (no matter how self-delusional the U.S. Supreme Court may have been), even if there were an excuse for it.

UPDATE: Market share corrected in the following paragraph; with thanks to Maggie Edinger at Hill & Knowlton for the correction and a link to this Reuters article discussing the company’s plans in Afghanistan for this year.

Karim Khoja, Chief Executive Officer of mobile phone provider Roshan runs the largest telephone company in Afghanistan—with 6% 35% of the market—and notes that 55% of the people in Afghanistan (his potential customers) are women. But Roshan knew when going into the country that the financial decisions for the household are controlled by the men, so direct targeting of women would not work—until very recently.  The initial pitch was “know where your wife is.”  Three years later, there are women buying their own mobiles—with, presumably, the full knowledge and blessing of men who have seen and understood the advantage to themselves of having them doing so.

Khoja also noted that, while women spend about 20% less than men on their mobile services, they are more loyal to the company—and are, therefore, the more profitable customers to have.

Most interesting is Khoja explaining the hoops the company had to go through to hire their first woman: direct family discussion, including driving her to and from the office, ensuring an appropriately courteous work atmosphere (White House employees need not apply), and that it took nearly a year before the company reached critical mass.  At this point, he essentially had noted that he was discussing a chicken-egg cycle where women could not get jobs or start businesses without having access to funding, and couldn’t get access to funding without getting a job or starting a business.

Muhammad Yunus of the Yunus Center then took over, explaining the details of the early days of Grameen: how their making loans to worthy business ideas—which largely came from and were to women—led to having to explain to men the advantages that come from having a two-income family.  This was followed by discussions with the women, who were then alert to (and, of course, able to address) the issues raised by their husbands. The initial result is that everyone became comfortable with the new situation; the collateral effect—which should be to no one’s great surprise—was that many of the women’s businesses improved even more after familial buy-in was achieved.  By the third year, the villages have a strong base of working women’s businesses and the model expands itself.  Generations of progress were made in the space of a few years, and Yunus and Grameen have never had to look back from that model.

President Bachelet notes that she probably would not have been President if she had not first been Minister of Defense—not, conspicuously, Minister of Health.

Muhammad Yunus notes that we have to move to the next step: it’s no longer just about making money, it’s also about problem-solving. “Social business” produces more loyal employees and a better chance at successful innovation. From the floor, a leader of Coca-Cola notes that they have been expanding their small business efforts with female leaders, which has given them better work.  (Also notes that the sponsored a “water-harvesting project” for every goal scored in the 2010 World Cup—which resulted in 520 projects being initiated.)

Another commenter from the floor notes that, fifteen years ago, 75% of the new AIDS cases in Africa were girls under the age of fifteen. It’s difficult to educate, let alone turn into a businesswoman, someone who is dying and/or pregnant.

Republic of Rwanda President Paul Kagame closed by noting that this entire panel has been “common sense.”  The scariest part of it is that these things keep needing to be said.

Tags: , , Comments (1) | |

Clinton Global Initiative 2011

As with last year and the year before, I will be (as much as possible) at the Clinton Global Initiative, now with even more Social Media and Networking Goodness.

If you’re here, say hello. If you’re not, look for posts and peruse the offerings for the conference. If there’s something you’re especially interested in, email me or mention it in comments.

Tags: , , , Comments (0) | |

Systemic Discrimination is Legal as long as you are Large

Welcome to the New United States.

Trust that Jared Bernstein (if this one shows up, instead of this one) will have more on how much future damage can be done to the economy.

UPDATE: Scott Lemieux weighs in, correctly seeing it as worse than any reasonable examination of the facts would have permitted*:

Systematic discrimination at a large corporation such as Wal-Mart simply cannot be addressed piecemeal. I could have lived with a ruling that focused on the unique facts of this case. But in their broad ruling, the Court’s five most conservative justices have made it much more difficult for civil rights laws to be meaningfully enforced in practice. It will be part of the classic conservertarian bait-and-switch: individuals filing lawsuits will not have enough evidence to prove discrimination, and class action suits that develop systematic evidence will be thrown out for not having enough in common.

Between this and Andrew Samwick’s recent declaration that the rule of law should not apply in the United States, it’s a good week for the youngsters among our readers to check out this site.

*Although, as is becoming far too usual, on par with my cynicism being optimistic.

Tags: , , , Comments (12) | |

CGI, Day 3 – Addressing Cancer in the Developing World: Health Equity and an Overlooked Public Health Crisis

The panel is preceded by this video.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta (Chief Medical Correspondent, CNN) leads the panel, featuring:

Lant Pritchett’s old point notwithstanding, the reality has become that the “developing world” now originates 56% of the cases of cancer in the world, up from ca. 14% a decade ago.  (Actually, this somewhat presents evidence for Mr. Pritchett’s point about trade-offs; the developing world is now able to live long enough and well enough that death from cancer has become important.)

Dr. Gupta starts by celebrating that some cancers that were not able to be treated anywhere in the world are now treatable everywhere in the world.  But the developing world cannot afford treatments for some types of cancer to the level needed. Dr. Gupta is a Board member of Livestrong, and speaks about the way the organization—especially through the discipleship of Lance Armstrong—has changed the way many people think about cancer.

HRH Princess Mired notes that much of the progress in Jordan occurred after King Hussein himself went very public with his battle with cancer, putting a public face on the disease.  HRH Mired notes that since then, the major cancer treatment center—the King Hussein Cancer Center—now includes the word “cancer” in its name and provides access to consultations, information, and treatment for people who live near the center and those who can communicate with it through a regional center.

She notes that there are areas in which they would like to make progress in Jordan, such as establishing Cord Blood Banks, and other things that people in the developed world “take for granted.”

Dr. Gupta asks Dr. Paul Farmer to speak specifically about Haiti.  Dr. Farmer notes that there is one (1) oncologist in Haiti, and none in Rwanda or Burundi.  It is difficult to use preventive measures once one already has leukemia—but need to make that much more of an effort in prevention and early detection.  Dr. Farmer notes that cervical cancer is a communicable disease;  there is a “cervical cancer belt” in the developing world.  There is a vaccine, there are preventive care activities, and there are many other possibilities for reducing the rate of death from cervical cancer—it is delivery mechanisms and education that need to be provided. (Dr. Farmer notes, for instance, that Partners in Health teamed with Gardasil to provide vaccinations for young girls and women in Haiti.)

Next up is Dr. Charles-Patrick Almazor, who reaffirms that there is significant progress that has been made, and notes some of the “on the ground” successes in post-earthquake Haiti.

Felicia Knaul and Lance Armstrong join the group.

Dr.Gupta notes that Lance Armstrong came to CGI and announced that he would be racing again, primarily to extend the reach and successes of Livestrong.  Armstrong notes that he wasn’t worried so much about the idea of winning another Tour de France or any “knock on [his] legacy” as he was in extending the work of the Livestrong Foundation.  And he believes that the effort has paid off well in those terms.

Ms. Knaul (who has a Ph.D., and therefore might be more properly referred to as Dr. Knaul), whose original commitment was “enhancing and empowering women health care workers,” notes that breast cancer is now the #2 killer of young (ca. 30-54) women in Mexico and the developing world. Ms. Knaul is a breast cancer survivor herself, and notes that what is worse than “having to take it in the vein is not being able to because you don’t have enough money to be able to pay for it.”  (Note: Ms. Knaul’s last round of treatment was last Wednesday; technically, she is not yet “a cancer survivor.”) She moves on to speak of “other kinds of failures,” such as the women who do not get mammograms because they expect that their husband will leave them if they are diagnosed with breast cancer. In that context, the Commitment made yesterday to teaching men is most encouraging for her.

Ms. Knaul also notes that she was in the audience when Lance Armstrong announced his Commitment in 2008, and that she herself was inspired by his actions to expand her own efforts.

Dr. Gupta highlights a few people in the audience who are also working to reduce cancer, including John Noseworthy of the Mayo Clinic, who “established the Healthcare Alliance for Tobacco Dependence Treatment” to work to support realization of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control; Dr. Lawrence Shulman of Dana-Farber and Harvard, which is working in several of the developing areas; HRH Princess Ghida Talal, who is leading an effort to establish a “personalized medical center” at the King Hussein Medical Center; and Letha Sanderson of Uganda, the founder of Wrap Up Africa.

Dr. Gupta asks Dr. John Seffrin of the ACS to talk about the American Cancer Society’s efforts to reduce tobacco use in developing countries. Dr. Seffrin notes that cancer is becoming the #1 cause of death in the world “for the first time in all of history.”  Livestrong and the ACS published a study about a month ago, noting that the cost to the world is about $895 Billion per year, “not including health-care costs associated with the treatment of cancer.”  The economic burden of the top fifteen diseases shows clearly that cancer is far and away the worst.  And the spread of smoking tobacco has clearly exacerbated this in the developing world.  Killed 100 million people in the last century; will kill 1,000,000,000 in this century if there is no intervention.

The first question from the floor is about possibility of using of local herbs and natural

Fran Drescher, a CGI regular whose own commitment in this area can be found at the link,  follows, asking how we educate and motivate women to go from “My husband will leave me if I have cancer” to “What will happen to my family if I die of cancer?”  Princess Mired notes that taboos don’t come from nowhere; they come from ignorance. People start from the expectation that cancer is contagious, that prevention and early detection are not possible.  Need to have the information disseminated, and especially to work on the men to change both the social behavior.  In four years, they have reduced the rate of people in Stage 3 and Stage 4 cancer from 70% to 35% through an”early detection” program that was started after people started to see survivors. Need to show survivors.

Ms. Knaul notes that the mortality rate in Mexico from cervical cancer has gone from 16% to 8% in the past ten years—primarily because of earlier detection and treatment, but also because of improvements in the treatment itself.  She notes that this especially can be applied in the Developed World, where opportunities for research and

Jonathan Quick of Management Sciences for Health noted the parallel between treating cancer and treating AIDS in the developing world. In the case of AIDS, they got through the four “barriers”: (1) the mental barrier (“it can’t be done”), (2) the cost barrier (treatment costs reduced from $12,000 to $3,200), (3) the money barrier (addressed by a global fund), and (4) the “practicality barrier.”  Where are we with cancer?  Dr. Farmer notes that those four barriers have been overcome in many cities, but that rural areas still need all four barriers to be overcome.  “People who say “there is no market” are trying to stop a conversation, not start one.”  When you don’t know any survivors in your neighborhood, it’s more difficult to accept that one can survive.  (The examples of King Hussein and, especially, Lance Armstrong seem especially relevant.)

Dr. Gupta asks Lance Armstrong about Livestrong’s decision to “go global.”  Armstrong notes that they were responding to demand: discovered that the idea of Livestrong resonated in places such as Mexico and India.  It is left to Mr. Armstrong to note that cancer is such a diverse disease—“we talk about cancer—boom, six letters—but it’s different than that.”  It’s correct to be honest about it:we’re going to have to knock of this disease on type at a time.  We know the diseases we can cure today (testicular cancer, some lymphomas, cervical cancer and breast cancer with early detection).  “It’s not a simple three-page document, but it is doable.”

With straightforward chemotherapy approaches, have been able to cure kids with various sarcomas.  We do have to scale up the program.

Former HHS Secretary Donna Shalala asks about geography: having to travel reduces ability to treat rural cancer patients..  She notes that more than fifteen years ago, Egypt set up regional cancer centers and flew oncologists to those areas once a month—a great political and popular success. (There were also pay incentives for the oncologists, to cover the travel requirement.)

Ms. Knaul notes that. when you add the technologies available, you don’t necessarily have to move the patient or the doctors so much; St. Jude’s is able to offer pediatric cancer care in Jordan while the oncologist remains in Memphis.  Princess Mired re-emphasizes this, nothing that the Jordanian doctors have weekly “training sessions” with the doctors in Memphis.

Have to understand that cancer has potentially become the most curable of all diseases; could be saving 10,000 lives a day if could apply the advances in the United States alone to the rest of the world.

Lance Armstrong again takes it down to a human level:  if we teach a kid never to pick up a cigarette, we just “cured” cancer.  Need to re-emphasize sharing: information, resources, programs.

Ms. Knaul notes that there are some countries, such as Mexico, that are considering financing reform so that people have access to cancer treatment—a move that will strengthen the health care system itself.

Dr. Farmer talks about competition, competing for scarce resources.  Only a partnership will work.  Resources are less limited than at any other time in human history.  Cannot make the same mistake—contrasting prevention with care—that was made in the past.  One of the main causes of death is that people become destitute providing care.  Need for that not to happen.

Dr. Almazor presents optimism; Princess Mired notes that we cannot change our future without change.  “Cancer does not even appear as a line item on any Global Health Agenda.” All of the successes and survivors—AIDS, TB, etc.—have the specter of having to face cancer and heart disease.  She closes by noting that we need to measure the cost of cancer not in human deaths, but prefer to see hospitals and treatment centers that remedy the problem.

Tags: , , , Comments (0) | |

CGI Day 3 – Harnessing Human Potential, or The Bush Family Extravaganza

The original schedule for this program was Riz Khan of Al Jazeera English moderating

  • Laura Bush, Former First Lady of the United States
  • Jack Ma, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Alibaba Group
  • Shakira Mebarak, Founder, The Barefoot Foundation
  • Rajendra Pawar, Founder and Chairman, NIIT Group

but Shakira was unable to attend, and was replaced by

  • Jenna Bush Hager, and
  • Barbara Bush

Mr.Khan opens with a joke about a policeman who pulls a woman over who is driving very slowly, having confused the Route sign (10) with the speed limit.  “Why do your passengers look so scared?”  “Oh, we just came off Route 120.”

Mrs. Bush starts by talking about how great things are for women “since the fall of the Taliban.”  Mentions one who has opened about forty schools in Afghanistan in cooperation with the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council.

Jenna Hager speaks of girls who “escaped early marriage.” She’s very enthusiastic, but appears to have problems dealing with being on-camera with a microphone.  (What she lacks in presence she tries to make up in enthusiasm.)  She speaks about the need for education to address the problem, referring to her experience as a teacher. (My impression from her presentation was that she is currently teaching; Wikipedia’s mileage appears to vary; anyone know?)

Barbara Bush—who does not have her younger sister’s problem—notes that she worked at a children’s hospital in South Africa, and that one of her jobs was basically “staying with the babies” so that the mothers—who otherwise would have lost their jobs—could go back to work.  The story in itself tells us about the impediments to harnessing human potential, but those who have attended for the past two days know these tales well enough, and probably would have preferred hearing from someone at the Barefoot Foundation who could get into more specifics.

Jack Ma of the Alibaba Group, a for-profit enabler of small businesses, declares that we are entering “the century of the small,” and that small businesses create not just jobs but hopes.  (Given the relative success of “small businesses,” he may have that backwards.)  Hope is his theme; sees good things occurring when now that the worldwide Solvency Crisis is over.

Rajendra Pawar starts with a discussion of how Bhutan (“the world’s youngest democracy”; two years) has for the past thirty-plus years concentrated on GNH (Gross National Happiness), not GDP. This includes constitutionally limiting the destruction of forest area in the country, educating the leadership in creating opportunities, and expanding connectivity and computing (leveraging solar energy) to make the society more horizontal.

A question comes in regarding the opportunities in alternative energy. (Also discussed yesterday by Governor Jennifer Granholm.)  Jack Ma notes that people recognize the issue and the benefits of alternate-energy: he has polled workers in coal-intensive China and never yet found a person who does not know someone who has or had cancer. “This has become a skills issue” in much of the world. (The U.S. currently exports slightly over $1 billion worth of solar panels each year;; China produced almost twice as much revenue from solar panels two years previously.)

Khan asks Laura Bush (“I’m asking you, not your daughters”) whether there is a generational complaint.  Ms. Bush notes that her daughters and their friends are all enthusiastic about working with and helping the world.

Khan ends, as he began, with a joke.  I will spare people it, since it wasn’t even as funny as the one with which he opened.

Tags: , , , Comments (1) | |

CGI, Day 2 – Securing the Health and Safety of Girls and Women

Tina Brown introduces:

  • Gary Cohen, Executive Vice President, BD
  • Geeta Rao Gupta, Senior Fellow, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Richard C. Holbrooke , Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, U.S. Department of State “and, of course”
  • Ashley Judd, Board Member, Population Services International

Starts with Geeta Rao Gupta, who declares the primary issue to be that hundreds of thousands of women are dying because of entirely preventable causes, such as 350,000 worldwide due to complications from pregnancy.  (Fifty million [50,000,000] child—under 18—brides worldwide.)

Tina takes the microphone away to talk about Ashley Judd’s discoveries in the Congo. (If this organization wants to concentrate on policy, not celebrity, Tina Brown should not be moderating.)  Judd, though, rises to the bait, nothing that Secretary of State HRC’s visit was not productive, and the people on the ground in the Congo did not believe that they were heard.  Only 6% of DRC has family planning ability; those who want to use family planning solutions but do not have access to such will have hundreds of thousands.  “100% of the women Judd met had been gang-raped more than once.”  Tells story of woman whose husband said “you have been raped too much” and left.

The word “fistula” was used extensively during Ms. Judd’s presentation, including a couple of times about “fistula repair operations.”

Gary Cohen notes that he was pulled into the issue of sexual violence against girls because of his work in fighting HIV/AIDS.  Found that 1/3 of girls in Swaziland who had experienced sexual violence, and that 29% of those became pregnant—effect is that about 10% of the female population is effectively eliminated from being part of the productive workforce, even if they are not part of the ca. 2% of the total female population that will die in childbirth.

Now working through other organizations, including a partnership with PEPFAR (about which Mike Kimel is more enthusiastic than I am, but which abides in either case) to try to empower women to facilitate AIDS/HIV relief.

Richard Holbrooke notes that he has never seen a State Department initiative to educate the men in leadership positions about the dangers of sexual violence against women.  They are trying to change that, but facing political issues. (We need to work with the [corrupt, violent] police in Afghanistan, but they have until recently been the largest part of the problem.)

Discusses the flood in Pakistan; shows a map of the affected area superimposed over U.S. and Canada—very little not covered.  International community is not going to be able to raise enough;Pakistani government is going to have to increase its revenues just to be able to pay them out.

The biggest problems will be now: 4-5,000 schools, hundreds of hospitals, countless homes have been washed away.  People will go back and they—especially the kids—will start drinking the stagnant water, resulting in dysentery at best. We are in a massive new round of fundraising to address the flood.  “Not one child I talked to knew how old they were.”  Information must be disseminated by radio—need portable radios.  Water purification: working with P&G, but do not have 10-gallon cans that can be used with P&G’s PUR product.  Need to teach people to use part of a packet.

Ms. Judd notes that the water issue is key to PSI; do monitoring and real-time data analysis and “barefoot entrepreneurs” (people on the ground) to emphasize the issues, and deal with “the chlorine taste” (if the mix is not ideal) as “the taste of health.”  Work toward a positive result, not the “if you drink this water, you will die” so much as developing social capital. (Dysentery is the #2 killer of under-5 children in the developing world.)

Geeta Rao Gupta notes that programs have been developed on the social level—cites several projects that have emphasized male education activities.  If you can provide services where women get a return on their labor, the household income is increased.  Needs to be cast as initiatives to improve the welfare of the households.

Mr. Cohen notes that they categorize “sexual violence against girls” as a human rights issue. Notes that Swaziland is the most leading respondent to their initiative, which also has cooperation from UNICEF.  Transfer to community level, which directly deal with organizations that educate men and boys about the opportunities when women have the opportunity to earn as well.

There is more data, and it is getting more attention, so it is easier to talk about the problem. Mr. Cohen notes that the Soviet rape in Berlin in 1945 (“a drunken orgy of revenge”) while Bosnia was a “calculated use of rape as an instrument of war.”  (Maybe John Barnes’s painful phrase Serbing should be used more generally.) Clearly becoming more systematic.  Geeta Rao Gupta notes that she works with efforts such as GEMS to provide information and educational opportunity to people.

Tina Brown finally proves her value by noting that need to make these points through stories and narratives.  That gets the young people involved in an issue.

Ashley Judd lists several organizations with which to work, such as Women 4 Women, Girl Up, Girl Effect (which, as Tom Watson notes, released a marvelous PSA today), and The Enough Project (which is directly related because a substantial amount of the  most egregious sexual violence against women occurs in “conflict mineral” countries).

She also notes that there is a female condom available worldwide (though not so much in the U.S.), which they promote through dialog with hairdressers (who then speak with their clients).

Best route to a good result is to provide access to contraception, planning, and information.  Will not help to “wag the finger from the top”; need to enable control with the people who want to have control over—freedom for—their own bodies.

Mr. Cohen is optimistic, partially because we have seen much progress made on this issue over the past few years at CGI.  Tina Brown notes that we’re probably not at a “tipping point” yet, but certainly getting closer to achieving awareness.

As Nick Kristof twitted earlier today (again, via Tom Watson, translated from Twitter into English), “Clinton Global Initiative this year seems very focused on investing in girls as cost-effective strategy to fight poverty.”  As strategies go, this one is—or, more accurately would be, in a world where economic models worked well—Most Likely to Succeed.

Tags: , , , , , Comments (2) | |

Clinton Global Initiative, Day 2 – Empowering Girls and Women (Plenary)

Moderator is Katie Couric, News Anchor and Managing Editor at CBS News. Panelists are

  • Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah , Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
  • Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia
  • Muhtar Kent, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Coca-Cola Company

Mr. Kent’s favorite book is Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat.

Queen Rania notes that the women are working very hard, but their time is not sufficient for everything that needs to be done. Part of this is the mindset (marriage > human capital development), but a significant portion is lack of available infrastructure.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: We started by focusing on women in the “informal sector,” providing educational opportunities and the like.  But this wasn’t enough in either respect: needed to provide more opportunity for work out of home and more protection on government level.

Mr. Kent notes that 70% of his customers are women.  Looked into future development and realized there was a significant mismatch in the company’s efforts, philosophy, and customer base.  “It’s a journey; it doesn’t happen overnight, but we are making good progress.”

Queen Rania notes that “no country can make any progress in spite of its women…They need to be injected into the supply chain.” Have contributed more to GDP than technology gains over past 20 years.  The greatest issue is the amount of time it takes to get an initiative in place and to see positive results from it.

Katie Couric asks how important a role is it to educate boys.  Queen Rania notes that the social attitudes harm boys as much as it does girls.  Girls get married instead of getting a job—but boys are forced to drop out of school to provide for their family.  So both lose in that situation.

Mr. Kent speaks of “microdistribution,” which actually originated at last year’s CGI, when Mr. Kent committed to 1,500 more projects, and that half of those would be women.  Not only passed that target, but they now employ an additional 18,000 people—total of 20,000 employed through 1,500 micro projects.  Barriers that had to be overcome—access to finance and land, especially—resulted in development of Best Practices that is now being spread as the model to South America and other locations.  Next goal: empowerment for 5,000,000 additional women between now and 2020.  Will involve both the distribution and retailing sides of Coca-Cola’s business.  Have mobile support for teaching “the basics of retailing” (e.g., stock rotation).

Some of the symbiotic relationships that enable that: In India, for example, carry water miles to their village.  We provide Clean Water which frees up the women’s time and leads to them to start their entrepreneurial work. Most “become leading citizens in their communities,” which leads to opportunities for expansion. (Gives example of a woman who started with one location and is now franchising and employing sixteen [16] people.)

Asks President Johnson Sirleaf about the “ripple effect,” and what the critical first step is.  For us (Liberia), we started with the first step of education—not formal education so much as access to knowledge.  Schools, literacy training, and a have a program that came out of a program from the CGI a few years ago, in cooperation with the World Bank and Nike, to train adolescent girls to go into the particular job that are currently in demand.

Question from YouTube: access to seeds and market information?  Mr. Khan has a project in cooperation with the Gates Foundation to create entrepreneurship for 50,000 farmers to create juice concentrates needed by Coca-Cola.  Have been working with the farmers—and discovered that only 1% of the land ownership was by women.

Queen Rania notes that in twelve countries in the Middle East, have more girls in school than boys. Biggest challenge is how to get women into the labor market, which (as this paper notes) helps both, as it did in the past.

President Johnson Sirleaf notes that there is no legal restriction in Liberia against women owning land, but there may well be structural issues.  Most farmland development now is being driven by women, “the men rather just play drums.”  (Mr. Khan, in response to a question from Couric, notes that competition makes the entire sea go up—helps both.)

How do we end violence against women and girls?  President Johnson Sirleaf says “we are going to stay the course. Make the penalties more intense—and enforce them. (Her example is making the rape of a four-year-old girl equivalent to murder.)  Queen Rania notes that the Community and Religious leaders need to cooperate as well in this effort to facilitate change. She found that when she started working about the subject of child abuse in Jordan, the first problem was that people denied it existed.  Have to have people confront problems before can solve them.

60% of women and girls in developing countries will be married before they are 18, and will have four children before they are 20.  Why does the issue of child marriage continue to travel under the radar.  Leading cause of death for girls aged 15 to 19 in developing countries is complications from pregnancy.  Jordan just raised the minimum age for marriage to eighteen (18) in reaction to seeing teenaged girls who have four children and ten years of “work experience.”

Biggest issue in Liberia is the transition into and through secondary school.  Mr. Khan focuses on “golden triangle”: collaboration between government, businesses, and civil society to lead to greater belief in the future and expectations of a future.

Katie notes that she has two teenaged daughters.  Other than bringing international attention to it, what can we do?  Queen Rania recommends Girl Up (which needs a website developer), a project of the United Nations Foundation that supports school supplies, medical checkups, and clean water to facilitate opportunities for girls in other areas.

Mr. Khan reiterates the obvious: families have to believe in the future, that there will be a better future,to make any progress toward long-term development. With a coordinated effort through the “golden triangle,” we will see improvements and developments.

We can only hope he is correct, and that people will find other jobs than just being a Coca-Cola franchisee as the 21st century develops.

Tags: , , , , , Comments (0) | |

Clinton Global Initiative, Day 2 – Plenary Session

The second day of the conference, and the first full of the Initiative, is devoted primarily to E&E.

Random notes:

  • President Clinton noted in his opening statement that the Haitian disaster’s immediate effect was to eliminate (kill) 17% of the Haitian workforce.
  • Melinda Gates notes that her efforts are mostly aligned with MDG #4, but it is only through achieving that that they can possibly achieve MDG #1.
  • President Clinton notes that, as an economy develops, age of marriage goes up and birth rate goes down. (Collaterally, this dovetails well with Melinda Gates’s point that we have made great strides in reducing infant mortality.)
  • Eric Schmidt notes that mobile telephony/devices facilitates business, communications, and knowledge; “allows the world to be one world.”
    • Schmidt compares this with President Clinton’s initiative fifteen (15) years previously to put wired computers in all public schools.
  • Melinda Gates notes that smaller groups have to work through goal-oriented process and adapt/learn “on the ground.”
    • Gates Foundation works to reduce risk, but ultimately need to be working with and have the cooperation of the local Government.  (Examples: Ethiopia and Malawi, both of which are working toward goals and identifying the steps along the way, not just declaring the overall view.)
      • Smaller organizations can do the same thing—but really need to pay attention to the facts on the ground. (Example from Ms. Gates was Save the Children.
  • Bob McDonald of P&G works with the governments and other partners.
    • Have reduced the cost of water purification to about $0.01/liter—a “dime a day” to provide clean water for a family of four.
  • What should all the leaders of countries be thinking about with respect to technology?  Eric Schmidt: Goal is to create as many new jobs as possible through using and leveraging the technology that is available. The concentration shouldn’t be on the educational and analytical part so much as “creating jobs.
  • President Clinton asks President Tarja Halonen of Finland what she would do if she were elected the President of Haiti.
    • Encourage creativity; even the smallest entrepreneur is an entrepreneur.
    • “I would speak to the women….I would ask that the President of Haiti would [take] the good counsel of the women.”
  • President Clinton asks the key question: “Why, in 2010, do we still have to have these sessions about the need for female empowerment?”

Tags: , , , , Comments (0) | |

In Honor of the Super Bowl

Favorite papers from the 2008 AEA in New Orleans (all PDF, ungated):

Emily Haisley on lottery tickets and perception. I heard about this paper before reading it. Such a simple idea, such a direct experiment.

Michele Tertilt: Women’s Liberation: What’s in it for Men (with M. Doepke). The next step is to figure out why so many rulers started having a significant number of female children. But that’s for sociologists, whose work is harder than that of economists.

Dean Yang and Sharon Maccini: Under the Weather: Health, Schooling, and Socioeconomic Consequences of Early-Life Rainfall. The paper that convinced me that Economics really is a good field in which to work.

Marcellus Andrews, “Risk, Inequality, and the economics of disaster.” This was much better live, where he prefaced it by taking about coming the hotel as an insurance inspector and pointed to the “sh*t line.” After the presentation, people were coming out, talking about how if they had wanted a sermon, they would have gone to church. Only person I went out of my way to thank for his talk, interrupting him conversation with Jamie Galbraith in the process.

Acemoglu and Finkelstein, Input and Technology Choices in Regulated Industries: Evidence from the Health Care Sector. Two future Nobelists collaborate. What’s not to like?

Dani Rodrik, Second Best Institutions. The best of a set of presentations.

Tags: , , , , Comments (8) | |

Health Affairs States the Obvious, So We Don’t Have To

Bob Somerby has been on a rant at The Daily Howler that “liberals” do not understand the Stupak Amendment.

Unfortunately, claims he makes about Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann and their guests do not apply to Laurie Rubner. At the Health Affairs blog, Ms. Rubner is direct and to the point:

From the very beginning, a central tenet of health care reform was that no one would lose coverage they already have. That’s why so many women are outraged by the Stupak amendment to the health reform legislation recently passed by the House. It goes against one of the fundamental tenets of health care reform: do not leave anyone worse off than they were before reform….

The Stupak amendment extends the group of women ineligible for abortion coverage far beyond its current breadth. It is essentially a middle-class abortion ban. The exchange would offer coverage to many of the 17 million women ages 18–64 who are uninsured, along with the 5.7 million women who are now purchasing coverage in the individual market. In addition, small employers are also likely to purchase their health insurance through the exchange where they may find more affordable options. Because the majority of health insurance plans in the private insurance market currently include abortion, many women will lose coverage that they already have in an exchange where abortion coverage is not permitted.

The Stupak Amendment is, among its other ills, not Pareto-optimal.

I wait—patiently, of course—for Andrew Samwick or Greg Mankiw or even Sensible Centrist Economists such as Brad DeLong and Mark Thoma to denounce the Stupak Amendment as a violation of the First Welfare Theorem.

Tags: , , , Comments (0) | |