Opinion

The Great Debate

from The Great Debate UK:

Sarah Brown on Ada Lovelace Day

- Sarah Brown is the wife of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a charity campaigner and Twitter enthusiast.  Follow her on Twitter @SarahBrown10.  The opinions expressed are her own. -

On the 8th of March, the web lit up with blogs and tweets and facebook messages to mark International Women’s Day. I joined thousands of women on London’s Millennium Bridge as part of a global effort to unite women to serve the causes of peace and development and was very pleased to discuss our shared aspirations for women with U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama in a web exclusive for Number 10.

But somehow one day doesn’t seem enough to reflect on what women have achieved, and on how far we still have to travel along the road to equality. So we have extended International Women’s Day to a whole month of focus on gender at Downing Street and today I’m blogging for Reuters in honour of Ada Lovelace Day.

You might not have heard of Ada – but you wouldn’t be reading this without her. Everybody knows about the fathers of computing – people like Charles Babbage and Alan Turing – but it’s time to celebrate the mothers too.

Ada Lovelace was one of the first ever computer programmers and Ada Lovelace Day (tagged as #ALD10 on Twitter) is our chance to draw attention both to what she achieved, and to the women who stand on her shoulders today.

from The Great Debate UK:

Women leaders: High peaks, low gullies

glenda_stone- Glenda Stone is an Australian businesswomen in the UK, CEO of Aurora and a commentator on economic gender issues. The opinions expressed are her own. Reuters will host a “follow-the-sun” live blog on Monday, March 8, 2010, International Women’s Day. Please tune in.–.-

In Australia there is a common expression of social phenomenon called the “Tall Poppy Syndrome”. It is a pejorative term that describes human behaviour of attacking, despising or attempting to cut down or criticise people of genuine merit because their achievements or talent distinguish them above their peers. Targets are often accomplished people with a public profile: business leaders, politicians, academics - and at times even celebrities and sporting personalities.

The media can be especially vicious in strategising, fuelling and orchestrating smear campaigns with the sole intention of defaming and questioning the character and ability of high-profile leaders.

from The Great Debate UK:

Second time lucky for Biocon’s Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

kiranSetting up Biocon, Asia's largest biotechnology firm, was not a straightforward task for the woman who is now India's wealthiest businesswoman.

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw chose the biotechnology sector as a fallback position after she realised at the age of 25 that India was not ready to accept a woman master brewer.

But abandoning her dream career of following in her father's footsteps did not mean she swept to success without any trouble.

from The Great Debate UK:

The meeting of young minds

IMG01410-20100209-1350A sedate group of more than 1,000 young people brought together in London to discuss socio-political issues makes a sharp contrast to those who challenge the status quo via demonstrations, rallies and picket lines.

At the first annual One Young World, organised by advertising agency Euro RSCG Worldwide, delegates 25 years of age and younger network in an environment sanctioned by such high-profile “counsellors” as former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, economist Muhammad Yunus and musician Bob Geldof.

There are no immediate signs of dissent among the hand-picked delegates meeting at the ExCel London convention centre from February 8 to 10.

from The Great Debate UK:

One Young World: let’s hear it from the under-25s

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Amid the ongoing global conversation about the economy, and projections about when -- and in which markets -- the world might emerge from financial crisis, the collective voice of the 25-and-under age group is hard to hear.

It could have been silenced due to a sense of futility about challenging the so-called Establishment, or it might be online -- constrained by such social media outlets as Facebook and Twitter.

Whatever the case, advertising and communications agency Euro RSCG Worldwide is taking measures to get the under-25s to speak up on such issues as the environment, health and education at an event called One Young World, which will be held from February 8-10 in London.

from The Great Debate UK:

Women on course to control larger proportion of wealth

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- Jane Foley is research director at Forex.com and blogs regularly for Reuters Great Debate. The opinions expressed are her own. Reuters will host a “follow-the-sun” live blog on Monday, March 8, 2010, International Women’s Day. Please tune in. -

Projections indicate that by 2050 the world’s population will stand at around 9.2 billion, up from around 6.7 million at present.  The vast majority of this increase will be in the developing world.  In developed world countries populations may start tapering off after 2025.

It seems likely that this explosion in population in the developing world will do nothing to address the fact that that per capita wealth is massively skewed towards the developed world.  Using World Bank data for 2000, the average per capital wealth in the top 10 wealthiest countries is a staggering 170 times greater than the average in the bottom ten.
Demographics in the developed world are defined by low fertility and low mortality rates.  This translates into an ageing population.  Added to this mix is the fact that male mortality rates are higher than female in the developed world.  As a consequence, as these populations age they are becoming predominantly female.  It follows that women are on course to control an increasing proportion of the world’s wealth.
Reports that suggest that women are responsible for buying 80 percent of household goods in the U.S. will not be a surprise to the seasoned shopper.  Over the past decade or so it appears that the advertising industry has been waking up to the notion that women’s responsibilities stretch further than making decisions on washing powder.

from The Great Debate UK:

International Women’s Day and the global financial crisis

sam_cook- Sam Cook is the director of the PeaceWomen Project – a project of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom – the world’s oldest women’s peace organization founded in 1915 in the Hague. WILPF is an international non-governmental organization with national sections in 35 countries, covering all continents. Its international secretariat is based in Geneva with a New York United Nations office. The opinions expressed are her own. -

With the global financial crisis seemingly in every headline and a looming economic meltdown foremost on everyone's minds, the observance of International Women's Day on March 8 may not seem of immediate relevance. But it is.

Clara Zetkin, who is credited with first putting forward the idea of an international women's day in 1910, would likely have a lot to say about where we are today. She and other committed socialists of the women's and the peace movements in the U.S. and Europe whose work inspired this Women's Day would probably not be entirely surprised at what the dominant economic and political power ideologies of the last century have delivered.

from The Great Debate UK:

Toll of malaria high for African women

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-- Ray Chambers is a philanthropist and humanitarian who has directed most of his efforts towards children. In 2008, the U.N. Secretary-General appointed him as his first Special Envoy for Malaria. The views expressed are his own. --

Malaria infects one quarter of a billion people each year. Nearly one million of those afflicted die, taxing overburdened health infrastructures and decreasing productivity in Africa, where 90 percent of cases occur.

In some countries on the continent, 60 percent of all outpatient visits are malaria related, with one quarter of worker absenteeism due to the disease. Taking all lost time and productivity into consideration, malaria costs Africa more than $30 billion annually.

from The Great Debate UK:

Confronting medical issues for women

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- Shelley Ross is secretary general of the Medical Women's International Association, a non-governmental organisation representing women doctors from all continents. The opinions expressed are her own. -

The Medical Women's International Association was created in 1919, not long after the first International Women's Day in 1911. MWIA's founder was an American by the name of Dr. Esther Pohl Lovejoy, who served as its first president. She was an obstetrician by training but an activist and humanitarian by action. Not only did she establish MWIA but she also founded the American Women's Hospital Service during the First World War.

The motto of the Medical Women's International Association, Matris Animo Curant, comes from Latin and translates to read, "She Heals with the Spirit of a Mother."

from The Great Debate UK:

Women entrepreneurs to dispel micro myth

090301_glenda_pic- Glenda Stone is chief executive and founder of Aurora, a recruitment advertising and market intelligence company, and co-chairs the UK Women's Enterprise Taskforce established by Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The opinions expressed are her own. -

Most venture capital and angel investment tend to go to a specific breed of entrepreneur - innovative, well networked, intelligent, confident ... male. Is this the result of deep-rooted discrimination or is this simply an issue of supply and demand? Women-owned businesses are largely under-capitalised and this leads to inhibited growth.

Access to finance is cited by numerous sources as the greatest barrier to the growth of women's enterprise but "access" is only the consequence and "education" is the cause. More women need to participate in business education addressing business growth, technology, revenue models, and securing correct types of finance.

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