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Mandela on My Mind

Maya Brahmam's picture

Last Friday, July 11, was Nelson Mandela Day, a day to recognize and remember his legacy to the cause of social justice – including the fight against extreme poverty. Mandela has inspired countless people with his ideas and actions.

The moment of personal inspiration came when I read a friend’s blog post several years ago in which he described a visit to Mandela’s prison cell, where he spent more than 20 years – a small cramped space that couldn’t constrain his larger vision. In Long Walk to Freedom, an autobiography he began writing in prison, Mandela said, “It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.”  I found these words compelling, as they challenge each of us to examine our own life and direction.

In a very visceral way, Mandela understood the concept of inequality. He established the “Train of Hope,” which made its first journey to deliver health care to underserved rural populations in 1994, the same year that he was elected as South Africa’s president. He also believed in the promise of education. In 2001, at the opening ceremony of a secondary school, he stated, “Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that a son of a mineworker can become the head of a mine…

Mandela is for my generation what Gandhi was for my parents: A legend in his own time.
 

Reputation and Governance Styles: The Leader as a Smart Aleck

Sina Odugbemi's picture

Because we have a global audience, I must start by explaining that, according to the Oxford American Dictionary, a smart aleck is “a person displaying ostentatious or smug cleverness’.  It also reports that one usage of the word ‘smart’ means: “(of transactions) unscrupulous to the point of dishonesty”. If you watch crime movies the way I do, there is a tendency to admire ‘smart play’, that is, ruthlessly clever and effective maneuvers. The best crime bosses are masters of ‘smart play’. In order words, they are smart alecks.

What is fascinating is how often (particularly in the massed punditry of elite global media) a capacity for smart play by political leaders is glorified. Leaders are routinely judged and compared with regard to whether or not they appear to shape the game, determine events, or impose their will on others and so on. If they do not seem to do that, they are dismissed as effete. If they seem to do that, they are admired and glorified.  What is particularly striking is how often the writers who say these things leave out ethical standards. I believe, for instance, that true evil is a willingness to act without ethical considerations. Yet, notice how often leaders are admired for ostentatiously clever play even if the methods are odious.

But I am interested in a much narrower question. And it is this: if we leave out ethical considerations, is a reputation for ‘smart play’ good for a leader? Does it make her more effective?  To throw this into bold relief, I am going to tell two kinds of stories- one domestic, and the other global.
 

Weekly Wire: The Global Forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Net Threats
Pew Research Internet Project
As Internet experts look to the future of the Web, they have a number of concerns. This is not to say they are pessimistic: The majority of respondents to this 2014 Future of the Internet canvassing say they hope that by 2025 there will not be significant changes for the worse and hindrances to the ways in which people get and share content online today. And they said they expect that technology innovation will continue to afford more new opportunities for people to connect. Still, some express wide levels of concern that this yearning for an open Internet will be challenged by trends that could sharply disrupt the way the Internet works for many users today as a source of largely unfettered content flows.
 
Good Governance- A Sustainable Development Goal Too Essential To Be Side-lined
Huffington Post
What do the public in the USA, UK, France and Germany consider the greatest impediment to global development? According to new research by the Gates Foundation and partners released at the InterAction forum last month called the Narrative Project, the answer is corruption. Additionally, a recent Gallup poll showed that, around the world, satisfaction with "freedom" is inversely proportional to the perception of corruption in a given country. The answer to corruption is good governance, at the national and local levels. But governance goes well beyond just stopping corruption. It is the cornerstone of individual freedom, political participation, secures the rights of the individual and the media, and makes politicians accountable to their constituencies.

What’s the Best Way to Measure Empowerment?

Duncan Green's picture

Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) used to send me into a coma, but I have to admit, I’m starting to get sucked in. After all, who doesn’t want to know more about the impact of what we do all day?

So I picked up the latest issue of Oxfam’s Gender and Development Journal (GAD), on MEL in gender rights work, with a shameful degree of interest.

Two pieces stood out. The first, a reflection on Oxfam’s attempts to measure women’s empowerment, had some headline findings that ‘women participants in the project were more likely to have the opportunity and feel able to influence affairs in their community. In contrast, none of the reviews found clear evidence of women’s increased involvement in key aspects of household decision-making.’ So changing what goes on within the household is the toughest nut to crack? Sounds about right.

But (with apologies to Oxfam colleagues), I was even more interested in an article by Jane Carter and 9 (yes, nine) co-authors, looking at 3 Swiss-funded women’s empowerment projects (Nepal, Bangladesh and Kosovo). They explored the tensions between the kinds of MEL preferred by donors (broadly, generating lots of numbers) and alternative ways to measure what has been going on.

Campaign Art: Girl Rising | Walking to School

Roxanne Bauer's picture
People, Spaces, Deliberation bloggers present exceptional campaign art from all over the world. These examples are meant to inspire.
 
Failing to educate girls is not only harmful for them, but also for their communities. Educating girls provides them with opportunities to understand the world and contribute to the workforce, improving their income-earning potential and socio-economic status.  According to the United Nations, without the input of women, economic growth is slowed and reduced, the personal security of everyone is threatened, the affects of conflicts and disasters are exaggerated, and half of a society’s brain power is wasted.

On 22 July 2014, the UK and UNICEF co-hosted the first Girl Summit to mobilize domestic and international support to end child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) as well as female genital mutilation (FGM) within a generation. The connection between education and these two practices is critical in efforts to ending them.

The education a girl receives is the strongest predictor of the age she will marry. Child marriage is associated with lower levels of schooling for girls in every region of the world.  FGM, likewise, is connected to education, albeit indirectly. FGM usually takes place before education is completed and sometimes before it commences. However, FGM prevalence levels are generally lower among women with higher education, indicating that the FGM status of a girl correlates with her educational attainment later in in life.
 
Girl Rising | Walking to School

The Power of Powerless Communication: How to Influence Others Softly

Jing Guo's picture

Two weeks ago, I attended a public dialogue at the International Monetary Fund between Managing Director Christine Lagarde and President Michelle Bachelet of Chile. I did not know much about Bachelet, except that she is the first female president of her country. While waiting, I was picturing her as a forceful, powerful iron lady. Instead, she appeared on stage as more of a mother-like figure, smiling and waving at the audience. 
 
During her talk, Bachelet was soft-spoken and humorous.  Once in a while, she would ask the audience members for help translating Spanish words into English. She kept us engaged and made us laugh. At one point, I could not help uttering, “I like her.” My neighbors nodded in agreement.
 
I wonder, what makes Bachelet so likeable? Her status? Her power? Neither. Instead of holding tight to her status, she was, in fact, letting go of her power by seeking help from the audience, and this is exactly why she was so warmly welcomed with such applause.
 
This might sound counterintuitive. Aren’t presence and charisma conveyed through strong, assertive, and dominant mannerisms and words? Often yes, but not always.
 

Quote of the Week: Tim Harford

Sina Odugbemi's picture

"A good working definition of a bubble is that the price of an asset has become detached from the fundamentals, which means that the only way to make money in a bubble is to find a bigger fool to take the thing off your hands."

- Tim Harford, economics leader writer for the Financial Times. He is the author of four books and also writes the long-running weekly FT column, “Undercover Economist."

Weekly Wire: The Global Forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
 

Thanks to Urbanization, Tomorrow's Megalopolises Will Be in Africa and Asia
Foreign Policy
Tokyo will still be the world’s largest city in 2030, but it will have many more contenders on its heels. According to a fascinating new report from the United Nations, the globe will have 41 “mega-cities” -- defined as those with 10 million or more inhabitants -- up from 28 now. Although the world’s largest urban centers have historically been concentrated in the developed world, fast-paced urbanization in Africa and Asia means that the megalopolises of tomorrow will be found in the developing world. By 2030, Asia and Africa will host nine of the world’s 10 largest cities, according to the report.

Mobilizing Private Investment for Post-2015 Sustainable Development
Brookings
The sustainable development goals are likely to have a more ambitious scope than the Millennium Development Goals. Accordingly, they will need a more ambitious financing for development strategy that can mobilize much more public, private, and “blended” finance.  Very rough estimates indicate that at least $1 trillion of additional annual investment is required in developing and emerging economies.  At first glance this might appear to be a large number, but it represents only approximately 10 percent of extra investment above current levels. It is clear that official development assistance, on its own, would be incapable of meeting financing needs, even if the target to provide 0.7 percent of gross national income were to be achieved by all developed countries. But official development assistance (ODA) could, through leverage and catalytic support, help mobilize substantially more private capital. 
 

Are You the Perpetrator of Your Own Loss of Privacy?

Roxanne Bauer's picture

Exploring ideas, innovations and fresh approaches to our world is at the heart of the public sphere. People, Spaces, Deliberation brings you significant voices from academia and the practice of development through a series of interviews.

Do conventional notions of privacy still exist? Are we trading privacy for convenience?  If privacy is a thing of the past, is this a bad thing?

According to Professor Silvio Waisbord, an expert on global media, development, and social change, the answer is mixed.  People trade the downsides of losing privacy in exchange for convenience, simplification, and other social factors. 

The interesting question for him is, "What do people typically do when they are confronted with the fact that you are one of the main perpetrators of your loss of privacy. What do you do about that? Are you willing to make changes about that?"

Professor Silvio Waisbord on Privacy and Convenience

Media (R)evolutions: What is the Economic Impact of Geo Services?

Roxanne Bauer's picture

New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.

In our everyday lives, geospatial science and technology services, such as digital mapping, GPS, and other location-based services, are changing the way we operate. These services help us navigate the world, saving time, facilitating our entertainment needs and widening the breadth of markets. These technologies also generate huge amounts of economic activity in the form of research and development, programming and cost savings.

A recent study by economic consultancy firm Oxera, on behalf of Google, illustrates how big the industry has become. Internationally, the firm states, the geo services industry is valued between $150-$270 billion per year and pays around $90 billion in wages.



 

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