Girls and women put themselves on the agenda at Davos

January 21, 2020, 8:04 PM UTC

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The World Economic Forum conference in Davos, Switzerland, is underway, and it’s starting to feel like a reckoning between a handful of billionaires and billions of girls and women.

A new report from Oxfam released yesterday ahead of the confab tells the tale: The world now has 2,153 billionaires who collectively control more wealth than the poorest 4.6 billion people living on the planet with them. The 22 richest men have more wealth than all of the women in Africa combined, some 660 million souls. Girls and women perform 12.5 billion hours of unpaid care work every day, which data show adds $10.8 trillion to the global economy every year.

If the future is feminist, then it’s got charts and graphs to back them up.

It’s well past “Time to Care,” the report authors say, that this accumulation of wealth comes largely at the expense “of ordinary people and particularly poor women and girls.”

If you want to fix the world, start paying women:

“Governments around the world must act now to build a human economy that is feminist and values what truly matters to society, rather than fueling an endless pursuit of profit and wealth. Investing in national care systems to address the disproportionate responsibility for care work done by women and girls and introducing progressive taxation, including taxing wealth and legislating in favor of carers, are possible and crucial first steps.”

It makes the presence of Greta Thunberg, a single girl who has helped kickstart a global climate activism movement, and who has jousted on social media with one of the most powerful political leaders in the world, even more poignant.

Thunberg and President Trump continued to trade shade at Davos without naming the other, a local reckoning with global implications.

In remarks preceding a panel discussion, Thunberg pointedly called out the wealthy and powerful for their continued inaction, referenced the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 Paris climate accord, then brushed aside President Trump’s announcement that the administration would join the One Trillion Trees initiative to offset carbon emissions.

“Planting trees is good, of course, but it’s nowhere near enough… It cannot replace mitigation,” she said. In his own remarks, Trump referred obliquely to the “alarmists” at the conference, and the “perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse.” Thunberg was in the audience, unrattled and unmoved.

If the future is feminist, it’s also fearless.

Ellen McGirt

On Point

A new lawsuit sheds light on Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged crimes The news is brutal: Evidence appears to show that Epstein trafficked and sexually abused girls as young as 11 and as recently as 2018. The activity occurred at his estate in the Virgin Islands; the suit was filed by Denise N. George, the attorney general of the Virgin Islands. The details are shocking but one thing is clear, George does not seem like she’s here to play. From her bio: “During her tenure, she successfully prosecuted a full spectrum of violent crimes, including murder, manslaughter, rape, domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse. As a member of the Child Abuse Task Force, she co-authored the Virgin Islands' first criminal child abuse and neglect statute.” Remember her name. New York Times

Survey: Legalizing same-sex marriage reduces suicide in gay and lesbian populations The survey was conducted in Sweden and Denmark, two of the earliest adopters of same-sex marriage, and tracked some 28,000 people in same-sex unions over an average of 11 years. The survey looked at suicide rates in same-sex couples between the years 1989 and 2002, then between 2003 to 2016. The suicide rate dropped 46% between the two studies. Click through for some more good news. Queerty

Marvel announces a new Indigenous-themed comic book The latest Werewolf by Night, which originated in 1972, will be released this April. The series will be set in Arizona, and featuring a strong Native American theme, co-written by Taboo of The Black Eyed Peas and Benjamin Jackendoff. “We're going through a Native lens because of my Native American heritage,” Taboo told I've been really connected to the Indian country or to native communities to be able to be a service and help native youth, inspire them, especially when it comes to health and wellness, and arts and music. So we built our partnership knowing that when we create, we create through a native lens…”

On Background

Working towards a gender-balanced workforce Aviva Wittenberg-Cox is the CEO of 20-first, a global gender-balance consultancy, and she’s put together some key observations after a decade in the delicate business of helping companies reach gender equity. Senior teams are increasingly ranking gender equity highly as a business priority, but they’re just not sure why. That’s a problem. “Equip leaders to explain why they believe balance matters, in a way that will be compelling to their dominant majority (usually men).” While the “I have daughters,” rationale may come up, it’s important to move past that and really dig in. Then, prepare for their ignorance, which is distinct from bias. “Rarely have senior executives had substantive discussions with their colleagues about gender issues, especially not with their male peers (any women on the team are often shocked at the low levels of awareness).” I can imagine this framework would be useful for racial diversity, too. Forbes

The study of how humans think has a diversity problem Much of the research on the way humans think has been based on the study of psychological subjects who were WEIRD—a handy acronym for western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic. Turns out, making the way WEIRDs think a universal standard is a real problem. If you reach out to other parts of the world, or even other parts of a country (rural versus urban, for example), you’ll encounter people who think very differently. Some of the most notable differences involve individualism vs. collectivism—or whether you consider yourself independent from or intertwined with others. Understanding how people think has powerful implications: A strong need for individual success brings with it consumerism and overconfidence, for example. A fascinating must-read. BBC

Mobilizing communities to end violence against women Dr. Shruti Kapoor is an economist and social entrepreneur, and one of 2019’s Gender Equality 100, a list which highlights influential people in global policy. She started her organization Sayfty, an organization that works to end gender-based violence, in reaction to a horrific gang rape in Delhi in 2012. In this interview, she shares three important learnings that speak to the global problem of violence against women. Click through for the specifics, but here’s something we can all do now: “Be a better bystander. We all need to reprogram ourselves and stop being silent,” she says. Medium


“You gotta think your whole life you’ve been playing football, for that moment to go ahead and play in the NFL… when you get there, all the executives, owners, they’re all white. I mean, you know, you get to a point where, in order to fit in, you have to learn how to—I guess it’s called code switch?—where you gotta not be yourself in order to fit in and stick around.”

Marshawn Lynch, speaking at a panel for MLK Now.

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