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From Football to Rocket Science: Meet the Young People Changing the World in 2018

MD Staff

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One hundred of the world’s most promising artists, business leaders, public servants, social entrepreneurs and technologists under the age of 40 have been invited to join the World Economic Forum’s community of Young Global Leaders. The aim is to enable them to shape an inclusive and sustainable future for the world.

They will join a community and a five-year programme that will challenge them to think beyond their scope of expertise and make a stronger impact as leaders.

They have been nominated because of their creativity and innovation; their ability to build bridges across cultures and between business, government and civil society; and their pioneering work in arts and culture, business, design, energy, health, public policy, sustainability and technology.

The Forum of Young Global Leaders is a multistakeholder community of leaders from all walks of life, from every region of the world. Current members head governments and Fortune 500 companies, hold Nobel Prizes and Academy Awards, and have become UN Goodwill Ambassadors and Social Entrepreneurs.

Over half of the YGL Class of 2018 are women, and the majority of the cohort are from emerging economies. Together, they represent the very best potential of their generation and are advancing new models of sustainable social innovation. The full list can be downloaded at http://wef.ch/ygl18.

“We’re challenging these 100 women and men to do more and be more. They’ll join a community of enterprising, socially minded leaders working as a force for good, and highlight the potential for innovation to correct the shortcomings in our economies and societies,” said John Dutton, Head of the Forum of Young Global Leaders at the World Economic Forum.

The Class of 2018 includes the following people from:

Africa (sub-Saharan)

Iyinoluwa Aboyeji (M), a Nigerian Silicon Valley entrepreneur who is changing the way payments are made in Africa as Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Flutterwave, an API start-up that attracted $10 million in investment in 2017. He also co-founded Andela, which trains and connects African developers to global companies for work.

Samuel Alemayehu (M) is Managing Director, Cambridge Industries, Ethiopia. He is a Stanford engineer and Silicon Valley entrepreneur who is developing Africa’s first waste-to-energy plant and the continent’s largest wind farm.

Fatoumata Ba (F) is Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Jumia Group, Africa’s first tech unicorn. She is also Chief Executive Officer of Janngo, Africa’s first social start-up studio.

Akim Daouda (M) is Chief Investment Officer of the Gabonese Sovereign Wealth Fund, Gabon. Outside of work, he supports a youth education NGO.

Khaled Igué (M) is Founder and President of Club 2030 Afrique, Benin, a think-tank focused on economic and social development in Africa. He is also Head of Public-Private Partnerships for Africa at OCP mining company.

Sébastien Kadio-Morokro (M) is one of the youngest CEOs in the African oil and gas industry as Chief Executive Officer of Petro Ivoire, Côte d’Ivoire. He is also Chairman of the Board of Clinique Procrea, which specializes in maternal health, child health and fertility.

Unathi Kamlana (M) is Deputy Registrar of Banks & Head of Department, Prudential Policy, Stats & Support, South African Reserve Bank.

Karabo Morule (F) is Managing Director, Personal Finance, Old Mutual Emerging Markets, South Africa. She is the first woman to sit on the company’s executive committee.

Natalie Payida-Jabangwe (F) is the Chief Executive of Ecocash, part of Econet Wireless, Zimbabwe. She runs the second-largest mobile financial service in Africa, managing the operation and financial transactions for 6 million customers.

Anushka Ratnayake (F) is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of myAgro, Mali. She supports small-scale farmers to pay for fertilizer and seeds through a mobile platform and is planning to reach 1 million farmers by 2025, increasing their income by $1.50 per farmer per day.

East Asia

Deng Adut (M) is Co-Founder and Partner at AC Law Group, Australia. He also founded the John Mac Foundation, which provides higher education scholarships to students from refugee backgrounds.

Nami Chung (F) is Managing Director at the Asan Nanum Foundation, Republic of Korea. She is leading efforts on youth empowerment and entrepreneurship.

Ren Hua Ho (M) is the Executive Director of hospitality brand Banyan Tree Holdings, Singapore, and Chief Executive Officer of Thai Wah, a food conglomerate. He volunteers as a mentor at a prison in Singapore and serves on several NGO boards.

Elaine Kim (F) is the Co-Founder and Partner of CRIB (Creating Responsible and Innovative Businesses), Singapore. She helps women become entrepreneurs and is a doctor and Chief Executive Officer of HCA Hospice Care, providing care for the terminally ill in their homes. She also co-founded Singapore’s first co-working space for families, Trehaus.

Nadiem Makarim (M) is Chief Executive Officer of GO-JEK, a motorcycle ride-hailing app that has evolved into payments, food delivery and other lifestyle services in Indonesia. The fleet includes 400,000 drivers and over 3,000 service providers.

Lucy McRae (F) is Principal, Lucy McRae, Australia. An artist and inventor, she is recognized as an early identifier of emerging technologies, leading Philips Electronics research lab.

Kaila Murnain (F) is General Secretary, New South Wales Branch, Australian Labor Party, Australia, the first woman to hold this position. Her aim is to change the culture of the party, making it more inclusive.

John Riady (M) is Director of Lippo Group, a business conglomerate based in Indonesia that includes real estate, retail, hospitals and internet services.

Simon Sheikh (M) is the Founder and Managing Director of Future Super, Australia’s first fossil-fuel-free pension fund.

Taejun Shin (M) is the Founder and Representative Director, Living in Peace, Japan. A former investment banker, he runs an NGO committed to education for peace.

David Sin (M) is Chief Executive Officer of SIN Capital Group, Singapore, and Deputy Chairman of Fullerton Health, a health foundation, where he is spearheading projects to help the elderly, low-income families and disadvantaged youth.

Shoko Takahashi (F) is Representative Director at Genequest, Japan. Her start-up gathers customers’ genetic information to develop drugs specific to their treatment.

Wai Wai Nu (F) is the Founder and Director of the Women Peace Network, Myanmar. A former political prisoner, she has been at the forefront of human rights activism and helps women fight abuse such as sexual harassment and domestic violence.

Hannah Yeoh (F) is Speaker, Malaysia Democratic Action Party. She is the country’s first female speaker for Selangor State Assembly and the youngest speaker of any legislative assembly in the country.

Vivy Yusof (F) is a Malaysian fashion entrepreneur, social media influencer and advocate for women’s empowerment. She founded dUCK, a fashion brand and FashionValet, a multimillion-dollar online retail start-up.

Europe and Eurasia

Heba Aly (F) is Journalist and Director of IRIN, Switzerland, a leading source of original, field-based journalism on humanitarian crises.

Barbara Ann Bernard (F) is the Founder, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Investment Officer of Wincrest Capital, a global equity fund. An Irish national, she also chairs Ultera Technologies, a clean energy company.

Oana Bîzgan (F) is a member of Parliament of Romania, representing Bucharest and works on equal opportunities for women and men and economic policy. She ran Romania’s NoHateNoFear campaign.

Valeri Chekheria (M) is Chief Executive Officer of Adjara Group Hospitality, a hotelier and agricultural entrepreneur from Georgia and business advocate for sustainability, human rights and anti-corruption.

Xavier Duportet (M) is Chief Executive Officer of Eligo Bioscience, France. His company developed antimicrobial medicines that can be programmed to target bacteria based on their genome – a treatment that can be used for illnesses like Crohn’s disease. He also runs Hello Tomorrow, a non-profit that helps promising science-entrepreneurs trying to solve the world’s most pressing issues.

Mathieu Pierre Flamini (M) is the Founder of and Partner at GFBiochemicals, United Kingdom, and a professional football player turned environmental entrepreneur. GFBiochemicals produces levulinic acid, a substance that could be an alternative to petrol.

Gloria Fluxa Thienemann (F) is Co-Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Grupo Iberostar, Spain, a tourism multinational operating in 30 countries with over 100 hotels, travel agencies and operators, employing over 28,000 people. She is also a campaigner for marine sustainability.

Maya Foa (F) is Director of Reprieve, the legal charity based in the United Kingdom that has a team of lawyers fighting human-rights abuses such as the death penalty, assassinations and secret prisons.

Sanni Grahn-Laasonen (F) is the Minister of Education and Culture of Finland. The Nordic country’s school system has consistently come at the top of international rankings for education systems.

Camilla Hagen Soerli (F) is the Executive Manager of Canica, one of the largest privately owned investment companies in Norway. She also manages the Canica Foundation, investing in medical research with a focus on women’s health.

Solveigh Hieronimus (F) is Partner at McKinsey & Company, Germany, who specializes in refugees, migration, welfare and employment. She is a speaker at the European Parliament, the European Summit on Youth Unemployment and the Chatham House Conference.

Gwenaelle Huet (F) is the Chief Executive Officer, France, Renewable Energy, ENGIE Group, France. Formerly with the French government handling climate negotiations, she is now responsible for hydro, wind, geothermal, solar PV and marine energy projects at Engie.

Ipek Ilicak Kayaalp (F) is Chairwoman of the Board of Directors, Ronesans Holding, Turkey, a group of companies specializing in construction, real estate investment, energy, health and education.

Christian Kroll (M) is the Scientific Co-Director of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Index and Dashboards at Bertelsmann Stiftung, the German think tank. The index and dashboards measure country performance on the UN SDGs and show how world leaders can deliver on their promises for reforms.

Gaurav Mehta (M) is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Dharma Life, India. A former private equity professional, he runs a social enterprise that enables entrepreneurs in rural areas to improve their local communities.

Miroslava Duma (F) is the Founder of Future Tech Lab, Russian Federation. She is an entrepreneur who is commercializing new, sustainable technologies and innovations for the fashion industry. Her work includes founding an investment company, experimental fashion tech lab, lifestyle digital platform, and a women and children’s online store.

Albert Rivera Díaz (M) is President of Ciudadanos – Partido de la Ciudadanía, Spain. A Spanish attorney and politician, he is also an anti-corruption and diversity champion.

Susannah Rodgers (F) is a British Paralympic swimmer who won 30 international medals, including three bronze medals at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and a gold and two bronze medals at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. She is a Non-Executive Director of the British Athletes Commission.

Nico Rosberg (M) is a German-Finnish Formula One race driver and 2016 Formula One World Champion who drove for Williams F1 and Mercedes AMG Petronas under the German flag.

Marlene Schiappa (F) is a French politician serving as France’s Secretary of State in charge of Equality between Women and Men.

Mustafa Suleyman (M) is one of the three co-founders of DeepMind, an artificial intelligence lab in the United Kingdom that was acquired by Google in 2014 for a reported £400 million.

Leo Varadkar (M) is the Taoiseach of Ireland. A medical doctor, he became the country’s youngest-ever prime minister in 2017.

Greater China

Kent Ho (M) is Founder and General Partner of s28 Capital, Hong Kong SAR. His company is one of the largest new early-stage venture capital funds in Silicon Valley.

Li Jia (F) is Head of Research and Development, Google Cloud Artificial Intelligence, Alphabet, USA. Previously head of research at Snapchat, she now heads the Google AI China Center and is an adjunct professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Jingfang Hao (F) is a Researcher at the China Development Research Foundation, People’s Republic of China. A researcher in macroeconomics, she also writes science fiction and leads a non-profit, Tong Xing, working on social impact projects.

Wang Huai (M), a former Facebook engineer, he leads Linear Venture, a technology investment firm. He is also Chairman of the Youth Group of China’s Future Forum, a non-profit establishing an interdisciplinary platform to promote science that helps humanity.

Xiao Liu (M) is Senior Vice-President of China Vanke, one of the largest property companies in China.

Wenjuan Mi (F) is Chief Executive Officer of VIPKID, People’s Republic of China. She empowers children through her English language education institution, which connects Chinese students to an international learning experience.

Li Sixuan (F) is Anchor for China Central Television, People’s Republic of China.

Wen Wang (F) is a Research Scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Singapore. A biochemist, she focuses on using technology to address sustainability, healthcare and food security.

Huiyan Yang (F) is Chairwoman of Country Garden Holdings, China’s largest property developer. She is China’s richest woman and her company has sold properties to 1.5 million homeowners and employs 70,000 people worldwide.

Carol Yu (F) is Anchor for Phoenix Satellite Television, Hong Kong SAR. She hosts Visionaries, which reaches over 400 million viewers in Asia alone.

Lu Zhang (F) is the Founding and Managing Partner of Fusion Fund, USA, a venture capital firm that specializes in early stage healthcare and technology investments. She made her mark in the industry after founding a company focused on non-invasive technology for early diagnosis of Type II diabetes.

Latin America

Kerstin Forsberg (F) is an ocean conservation activist based in Peru and Founder of Asociación para la Conservación de Ambientes Marinos y Costeros and Planeta Océano, a non-profit fighting to protect marine environments.

Sebastián Alejandro Kind (M) is Undersecretary for Renewable Energy, Ministry of Energy and Mining of Argentina and leading a national plan to generate 20% of the country’s power by 2025.

Juan Jose Pocaterra (M) is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of ViKua, Venezuela. His company develops smart city technologies and he is Venezuela’s representative to the White House Emerging Entrepreneurs Initiative.

Alejandro Malgor (M) is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Xinca, a company based in Argentina that makes shoes from discarded car tyres. Xinca partners with sustainable brands like Patagonia and has produced 20,000 pairs from 13 tons of recycled tyres since 2013.

Kapil Mohabir (M) is the Founding Managing Partner of Plympton Farms, Guyana. His social enterprise is the largest exporter of tropical products in Guyana, and he seeks to alleviate rural poverty by working with smallholder framers.

Juan Pablo Larenas (M) is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Sistema B, Chile. His organization promotes collaboration between businesses, government and civil society towards social innovation.

Middle East and North Africa

Faisal Abbas (M) is Editor-in-Chief of Arab News, Saudi Arabia.

Razan Al Mubarak (F) is Secretary-General of the Environment Agency, Abu Dhabi (EAD), United Arab Emirates.

Sarah Al-shuhaimi (F) is the first woman to chair Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange and is Chief Executive Officer and Member of the Board of NCB Capital, Saudi Arabia.

Riad Armanious (M) is Chief Executive Officer of Eva Pharma, Egypt. A philanthropist and entrepreneur, he turned his family’s small business into one of the region’s fastest-growing pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Reem Fadda (F) is an internationally recognized art curator based in the Palestinian Territories.

Rayan Fayez (M) is Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Banque Saudi Fransi, one of Saudi Arabia’s largest banks.

Reem Khouri (F) is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Kaamen, Jordan. She runs a social enterprise that supports organizations in designing their economic and social contracts with society.

Tamer Makary (M) is the Founder of Ethica Partners in the United Arab Emirates. He established Africa’s first not-for-profit eye hospital in Cameroon and he is launching local eye care interventions in Indonesia.

Alisha Moopen (F) is Executive Director of Aster DM Healthcare, United Arab Emirates. She oversees 85 clinics and focuses on initiatives for village development, ranging from small children to women’s education. She is also a trustee and active member of the Aster DM Foundation, working with children with congenital heart disease.

North America

Angela Baker (F) is Head of Qualcomm Wireless Reach, USA, a strategic initiative of Qualcomm that brings wireless technology to underserved communities around the world, reaching over 10 million beneficiaries.

Kelly Buchanan (F) is Senior Vice-President, Commercial Solutions, Mastercard, USA. She led the efforts to initiate Mastercard’s Women in Technology programme and is involved in Girls 4 tech, a programme that teaches science, technology, engineering and mathematics to schoolgirls across the world.

Joy Dunn (F) is the Lead of New Product Introduction, Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX), USA. She leads the task force taking new spacecraft from design concept into production. She co-founded the Women’s Network and LGBTQ employee groups at SpaceX and is involved in science, technology, engineering and mathematics outreach.

Michael Faye (M) is Executive Chairman of GiveDirectly, USA. His charity allows donors to send money directly to the poor with no strings attached and is researching the effects of unconditional basic income in developing economies. He also runs Segovia, a technology company that aims to make charitable payments safer.

Joseph P. Kennedy (M) is Congressman from Massachusetts (D), 4th District, United States House of Representatives, USA.

Maggie MacDonnell (F) is the teacher from Ikusik School, one of the most northern communities in Canada, who won the Global Teacher Prize 2017. With the $1 million award, she is planning a non-profit for youth to engage on issues such as culture, climate change, health and global citizenship.

Nadeem Meghji (M) is Senior Managing Director at Blackstone, USA. Working in the Real Estate Group and Head of Real Estate Americas, he oversees $60 billion of investor capital. He is also a board member for the Lupus Research Alliance.

Subha Nagarajan (F) is leading GE Capital’s emerging markets investment portfolio. Previously, she managed over $2 billion worth of investment deals in Africa at the Overseas Private Investment Corp, the US Government development finance institution.

Billy Parish (M) is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Solar Mosaic, USA. An author, businessman and philanthropist, his company is the largest lender for home solar in the United States. He also founded, Power Shift Network, one of the largest youth climate change advocacy organizations in the world.

Catherine Raw (F) is Chief Financial Officer at Barrick Gold Corporation, Canada, one of the largest investors in mining.

Lily Sarafan (F) is Chief Executive Officer of Home Care Assistance, USA. Her start-up is the largest consumer health company in ageing services, generating $100 billion with 5,000 employees. She was a Chairwoman of the National Iranian American Council, an activist for Moms Against Poverty, and pioneered educational programmes for orphaned girls in Cambodia and Iran.

Arvind Satyam (M) leads global business development for Cisco’s Smart Cities Initiative, supporting cities in their efforts to improve energy management, disaster preparedness and public safety.

Fern Shaw (F) is President of UPS, USA. She oversees 15,000 employees in finance, sales, package and transport operations, industrial and plant engineering, human resources, automotive, security and labour relations.

Jagmeet Singh (M) is a Member of Ontario Provincial Parliament and leader of the New Democratic Party, Canada.

Edward “Smitty” Smith (M) is a Partner at DLA Piper, USA. He delivered broadband to underserved communities as a member of the Obama Administration, advised the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and ran for Attorney General in the District of Columbia.

Alexander Soros (M) is the Owner of Soros Fund Management, USA. He founded the Alexander Soros Foundation, promoting civil rights, social justice and education through grants. He is also Deputy Chair of the Open Society Foundations, which supports civil society groups around the world.

Tom Szaky (M) is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of TerraCycle, USA. A champion of the circular economy movement, his company repurposes hard-to-recycle consumer waste such as chip bags and cigarette butts.

Leana Wen (F) is the emergency physician taking on Baltimore’s health crises as the city’s Commissioner of Health. As the head of one of America’s most experimental health departments, she tackles everything from the city’s crippling drug abuse problem to high infant mortality.

South Asia

Nighat Dad (F) is the Founder of the Digital Rights Foundation, Pakistan. A lawyer and internet activist, her non-profit is helping Pakistani women fight against online harassment.

Bhairavi Jani (F) is Executive Director of the SCA Group of Companies, a major logistics firm in India. An entrepreneur and one of the most powerful women in India, she has advised governments and private organizations.

Rhea Mazumdar Singhal (F) is Chief Executive Officer of Ecoware Solutions, India. She is tackling plastic waste by manufacturing a biodegradable – and cheaper – alternative to plastics. She also volunteers to help cancer patients.

Hamdullah Mohib (M) is a diplomat who is the Ambassador of Afghanistan to the United States of America.

Armstrong Pame (M) is Joint Secretary, Government of Manipur, India. Known as “the miracle man”, he took up an ambitious road project without government funds, leading to the opening of a 100-kilometre road that links poor communities in Manipur with the outside world.

Suchi Saria (F) is the John C. Malone Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins University, USA. She runs one of the leading labs at the intersection of artificial intelligence and healthcare to make early detection and diagnosis a reality.

Alok Shetty (M) is Founder and Principal Architect of Bhumiputra Group, an architectural firm in India that designs flood-resistant homes, costing as little as $300, for low-income housing in Bangalore. He is on a mission to improve people’s quality of life in poor districts and was named “Young Leader for Tomorrow” by Time magazine.

Kanika Tekriwal (F) is the Chief Executive Officer of JetSetGo, India’s largest private jet company. Often called the “Uber of air travel”, JetSetGo manages and operates private jets that are owned by others.

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New Social Compact

Joker &the Pathology of Violence

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image: Warner Bros

JOKER, director Todd Phillips and renowned actor Joaquin Phoenix’s new take on an infamous comic book villain, will hit the big screen this weekend.  It has garnered prestigious awards (such as the Golden Lion), laudatory critic reviews & is expected to attract hordes of eager moviegoers.  However, JOKER has also inspired ominous think-pieces from publications such as The Atlantic and Vox.  Additionally, the US military and the NYPD have expressed concern that the film could inspire violence.

These detractors of JOKER are arguing that the film glorifies “incel violence” and is thus likely to inspire acts as incel violence.  This logic has been used ad nauseam to condemn everything from comic books, to video games, to martial arts, to Marilyn Manson to hip-hop.  No credible study has proven that art that portrays violence causes real-world violence.  Some people may point out that extreme outliers, like white-supremacist music, could cause violence.  However, it would be more logical to argue the opposite: people who compose and listen to white-supremacist music were already enmeshed in a violent ideology.  Likewise, genocidal propaganda tends not to focus on explicitly glorifying violence for violence’s sake, but in portraying groups of people as sub-human (Tutsis being compared to roaches, Jews being portrayed as greedy and treasonous, etc.).  It’s thus a process of long, gradated inculcation.  As Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels realized, there’s no reverse-Ludovico Technique that can magically turn people into killing machines by quickly showing them a two-hour film.

Now, it is true that a few violent criminals have cited works of art as inspiration for their actions.  This is statistically inevitable, but insignificant.  There are bound to be a few outliers who have bizarre interpretations on art, just as there are a few people who have been inspired to commit acts of terrorism based on personal interpretations of religion or politics.  It’s no more logical to suggest that we ban violent video games or art because of mass shootings than to suggest we ban Buddhism because of Aum Shinrikyo’s gas attack on the Tokyo subway, or that we should ban Irish patriotism because of the IRA.  Furthermore, some violent lunatics have been inspired by works of art, such as John Lennon’s killer citing Catcher in the Rye, that aren’t even violent in nature.  Clearly, the people who commit mass killings are incredibly unhinged individuals who are in a violent frame of mind, regardless of what media they consume.  Likewise, 99.99% of people who play FPS games or who watch slasher flicks aren’t going to go on a shooting rampage or create a torture dungeon in their basement.

To return things to JOKER itself, the film in no way “glorifies” violence.  For starters, half of the violence is inflicted on the main character (the “incel hero”); there are two scenes where The Joker gets jumped mercilessly and a third scene where he gets sucker-punched in the face.  The violent acts that The Joker himself commits are portrayed in a very gruesome manner (in one scene with The Joker and a neighbor of his, the violence isn’t even shown, but is merely implied).  When The Joker bashes someone’s head in or shoots someone point-blank, there are no crass jokes, inspirational music or voiceovers quoting The Art of War. The plotline doesn’t imply any justification for the killings.  When someone gets killed in the film, audience-goers don’t hoot and holler like they would in a screening of a zombie film or a Nazi-revenge flick like Inglorious Basterds.  Rather, there is an awkward pall of silence in the theater at the nihilistic spectacle.

JOKER makes it very clear that the title character’s violence is motivated by nothing but his utter insanity.  The Joker descends into a killing machine after being released from an asylum and after he stops taking seven different psych meds (which weren’t helping him much, anyway).  When being interviewed, he admits that he isn’t compelled by any ideology whatsoever.  Rather, The Joker literally views the act of killing as a joke. 

Nor does The Joker gain any tangible reward for his violence; he gets fired from his job, arrested, hit by an ambulance and committed to an asylum as a direct result of his actions. Joaquin Phoenix’s character gets a thrill from the media coverage that his killings elicit (and a standing ovation from fellow thugs in the film’s penultimate scene), but that not’s a real reward, but rather a feeling that many real-life killers in fact get when they are portrayed in the news.  For instance, the as-yet unidentified Zodiac Killer literally played games with Bay Area news outlets, sending them letters that boasted about his kills, contained cryptic puzzles and threatened to blow up a school bus if he didn’t receive even more media attention.  Many other serial killers who were apprehended were found to have hoarded newspaper clippings that documented their crimes.  Similarly, coverage of a mass shooting often inspires “copycat mass shootings”.  The takeaway from this is that the media should be careful about inadvertently turning stories about mass shootings and terror attacks into personal biographies of the killer.  When covering these kinds of attacks, some news outlets, like The Young Turks and The David Pakman Show, deliberately choose to blur the killers’ faces and avoid naming them, so as not to give the killers the attention that they wanted to garner and to avoid inspiring other violently-deranged individuals who crave attention.

The fact that JOKER doesn’t merely portray the villain as an Evil-Incarnate caricature doesn’t mean that it is therefore glorifying violence.  The audience is meant to sympathize with The Joker when he get jumped without warning or when he talks about the crippling depression that he has felt for literally his entire life.  There are scenes showing The Joker comforting his mother and entertaining sick children.  The mere fact that The Joker is portrayed as a full human being, good traits and bad traits, doesn’t mean the film is justifying how he releases his violent rage.  No human is evil 100% of the time: there is no villain who tortures hamsters 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  It is only by studying the causes of violent criminals’ various motivations that we can ever hope to ebb the tide of violence.  Most violent criminals have suffered from childhood abuse, childhood poverty, a missing parental figure, bullying and/or mental illness (The Joker had to deal with all five of these traumas).  By empathizing with these plights, we can create programs (drug treatment programs, stamping out bullying in school, removing children from abusive households, etc.) that can reduce violent crime.

It’s not comfortable to acknowledge that history’s most evil people had humanity or that societal norms (like persecuting people, tolerating child abuse or underfunding mental illness and addiction treatment programs) can fuel violence.  It’s evident that Todd Phillips, through his direction and screenplay, and Joaquin Phoenix, through his tortured portrayal of The Joker, meant to give us a glimpse into the mind of a demented killer, not so we can sympathize with the protagonist’s brutal violence, but so we can sympathize with the myriad factors that drove the protagonist to criminal insanity.  The nearly uniform media portrayals of mentally-ill individuals as Pure Evil only serves to misinform the public and to scare those suffering from mental disorders from seeking help.  Hopefully, the discussions being generated by JOKER will encourage people to learn more about complex diseases like schizophrenia and to be more proactive in reaching out to loved ones who are displaying signs of mental anguish.

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New Social Compact

Women outnumber men in higher education but gender stereotyped subject choices persist

MD Staff

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Education is essential to achieving gender equality. From the earliest schooling to the highest levels of post-graduate study, education influences the opportunities that can shape people’s lives.

This is why education and training of women is one of the 12 critical areas of concern in the Beijing Platform for Action, while target 4.5 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) calls for the elimination of gender disparities in education by 2030.

In the UNECE region girls tend to outperform boys in terms of learning outcomes in schools, and women outnumber men in tertiary education (university level and beyond) in almost all countries of the region.

Women remain in the minority, however, as students of stereotypically “masculine” subjects such as ICT and engineering, although in recent years they have begun slowly gaining ground.

Tertiary level graduates

In 39 out of the 47 UNECE countries with data, more than 55 per cent of tertiary graduates are women. Iceland has the highest share, with 66 per cent women.  Seven countries are close to gender parity, with the share of women ranging from 48 to 55 per cent, and only in Uzbekistan are women in a clear minority, with 38 per cent of tertiary graduates.

After decades of increase in women’s participation in higher education, women substantially outnumbered men among tertiary level graduates in most countries by 2012. Since then, women’s share has declined in 32 out of the 47 countries with data. Whilst in Azerbaijan and Turkey fewer than half of tertiary graduates were women in 2012, more women have entered tertiary education in these countries since and the 2017 data already show gender parity there. 

Subject choices of women and men

The subjects studied at tertiary level by women and men can reflect stereotypes of “masculine” and “feminine” subject areas. Some subjects may be preferred by potential employers and may affect occupational segregation once graduates enter the labour market. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and Engineering, Manufacturing and Construction (EMC) are two broad groups of subjects where male students have historically predominated.

Women remain a minority among ICT students in the UNECE region, with percentages ranging from 11 in Belgium to 33 in Greece. The four countries with the largest share of women among ICT students are all in the Balkan region. Among students of EMC, the share of women is somewhat higher, but still falls far short of parity, ranging from 14 per cent in Georgia to 44 per cent in North Macedonia.

In both of these subject groups, the recent trend shows small gains for women in some countries but reductions in others. Overall, progress towards gender equality in these two typically male-dominated subject areas is uneven and slow.

UNECE Beijing+25 Regional Review Meeting

Progress in achieving gender equality in education will be one of the areas in focus at the upcoming Beijing+25 Regional Review Meeting for the UNECE region, with a particular emphasis on how women and girls can enter currently male-dominated fields.

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of 1995 (Beijing Platform for Action) is the most ambitious road map for the empowerment of women and girls everywhere. In 2020, it will be 25 years since the Beijing Platform for Action outlined how to overcome the systemic barriers that hold women back from equal participation in all areas of life. 

The Beijing+25 Regional Review Meeting (29-30 October 2019) will take stock of where the UNECE region stands on keeping the promises of the Beijing Platform for Action. Bringing together government representatives and key stakeholders from the UNECE region, the meeting will tackle a number of obstacles that keep girls and women from realizing their full potential. UNECE is joining forces with the UN Women Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia to deliver a two-day multi-stakeholder meeting to exchange concrete policies to accelerate the realization of gender equality. The outcomes of the meeting will feed into the global review of the Beijing Platform for Action taking place at the sixty-fourth session of the Commission on the Status of Women in New York from 9 to 20 March 2020.

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New Social Compact

Call for Action from Leaders and Business on Violence against Women

Newsroom

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Spiralling levels of violence against women in Africa require immediate action from governments and businesses, including tangible measures to create safe spaces, experts from across the continent told the World Economic Forum on Africa today.

Protesters in South Africa have taken to the streets and social media to demand action, following the rape and murder of a Cape Town university student who was attacked in a post office. Uyinene Mrwetyana was just the latest of many victims of brutal assaults in a region where approximately 45% of women and girls over 14 years have experienced physical or sexual violence.

“I’m dumbfounded by the idea that we can continue with business as usual,” said Namhla Mniki-Mangaliso, Director of African Monitor, who urged technology companies to take a lead in delivering solutions. “It would take a click of a finger for a tech company to say we are going to deploy a software that can assist us with an emergency response system for poor women in South Africa free of charge.”

The potential for technology to help in the fightback highlights the need for businesses to think creatively, given that cyberbullying can also contribute to discrimination in the first place. Mniki-Mangaliso said the wider business community should also step up to the plate by backing a gender-based fund to address the deep-rooted problems behind the rising tide of physical and sexual assaults.

Hafsat Abiola-Costello, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Women in Africa Initiative, said Africa could learn from China, where decisive action was taken to ban harmful practices like foot binding and polygamy. African governments, by contrast, too often fail to enforce bans on polygamy or genital mutilation, thereby reinforcing a culture of discrimination against women that becomes embedded from childhood.

The failure to protect women is not just a moral issue; it also comes with a high economic cost. “Who drives African communities? It’s our women. Our women can drive Africa’s development, if given the chance, if protected, if their rights are respected,” Abiola-Costello said. “Africa missed the first industrial revolution, we missed the second, we missed the third. If we don’t address this issue, we will miss the fourth.”

Obiageli Katryn Ezekwesili, who spearheaded the #BringBackOurGirls campaign in Nigeria and is a fellow of the Robert Bosch Academy, said calls for women to help drive African development will simply ring hollow if violence is not addressed. “The world lacks the moral pedestal to stand on to ask girls to aspire if we cannot have the back of those who are vulnerable,” she said.

With 16,000 deaths due violence against in women every year in South Africa alone, Akudo Anyanwu, Associate Dean at Johns Hopkins University, said: “Our presidents and the leaders in government need to come out and take a position. We need to have our leaders come out and call crimes a crime.”

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