William Easterly is Professor of Economics at New York University. He is Co-Director of the Development Research Institute and editor of the Aid Watch blog. He is author of The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good. This is an abridged version of an interview I conducted in NYC on 3 May 2011.
It’s tempting to expect perfection from those we admire, but we romanticize lone heroes at our peril.
As revolutions and reforms sweep the Arab world, Saudi women continue to push for their rights. Inspired by their sisters in Egypt and Tunisia, a national women’s movement called Saudi Women Revolution has coalesced with clear and wide-ranging demands. Chief among them is the ability to participate in the political process, including voting and running for election.
For the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, my colleagues and I at the Global Fund for Women decided we needed to shake things up. On a daily basis, we are fed a heavy dose of bad news about the plight of women: one in three women are survivors of rape, domestic violence on the rise due to joblessness, and so on. Although women experienced some setbacks in 2010, they were also the drivers of major victories for women across the world.
Josefina Reyes began her career as a human rights organizer the same way as thousands of women across the globe–defending her family and her community. The middle-aged mother staged a hunger strike to demand the safe return of her son after Mexican soldiers abducted him from their home. She lost another son to the drug war violence that has come to characterize the Valle de Juarez, where the Reyes family lives. Josefina spoke out against this violence, particularly against abuses committed by the army and police deployed to fight organized crime.
The political crisis in Côte d’Ivoire has had major diplomatic, financial, economic and social repercussions on the population, including on women and the organisations that defend their rights.
Twitter has been aflutter about the very visible presence of women among the protests that have taken Egypt by storm over the last few weeks. But images of women have remained sparse amid the digital slideshows strung together by major media outlets, which portray mainly dense crowds of the manly. Egyptian Organization for Human Rights activist Ghada Shahbandar estimates that the crowd in downtown Cairo is up to 20 percent female. Others have put the number much higher, at 50 percent.
He was an officer in the Saudi Royal Navy assigned to the strategic Saudi base of Jubail in the Persian Gulf, and he wanted to hire a maid. She was a single mom from Mindanao in the Philippines who saw, like so many others, employment in Saudi Arabia as a route out of poverty. When he picked her up at the Dammam International Airport last June, little did she know she was entering not a brighter chapter of her life but a chamber of horrors from which she would be liberated only after six long months.
Like their revolutionary and brave Algerian sisters, who in the 1950s helped bring one of the most developed and vicious colonial armies to its knees and ushered the end of a longstanding European empire, les Tunisiennes challenged the premise that resistance, revolution, and war are the work of men alone. Defiantly, the women continued the resistance until Ben Ali “got the hell out.” Now that he’s gone, Tunisian women are appearing on Arab television and participating in the formation of neighborhood watch groups.
Marisela Escobedo’s life changed forever in August 2008 when her 16-year-old daughter Rubi failed to come home. What was left of Rubi’s body was found months later in a dump — 39 pieces of charred bone.