How to Celebrate International Women's Day 2012
Megan Erickson is an Associate Editor at Big Think. Prior to Big Think, she taught reading and writing to ninth and tenth graders in NYC public schools and tutored students of all ages at the Stuyvesant Writing Center, which she helped launch. In her spare time, she worked in the communications department at the Center for Constitutional Rights and served as a mentor at the Urban Assembly, where she designed and led an extracurricular civics course on grassroots community action. She’s written on education, small business, and the arts for CNNMoney, Fortune Small Business, and The Huffington Post. Megan received her master’s degree in Education from Teachers College. You can reach her at email@example.com.
What's the Big Idea?
Happy International Women's Day! This is the first of many events throughout the month which focus on celebrating the historic achievements of women around the world, while highlighting the injustices of women's continued socio-economic inequality.
This morning, Big Think attended a breakfast held by Women's World Banking -- the only microfinance organization dedicated exclusively and explicitly to women -- in honor of the day. Over 200 women came from around the world to talk about widespread economic disparities and the importance of gaining financial independence. The conversation was moderated by Pat Mitchell of The Paley Center for Media, with a panel comprised of Melinda Wolfe from Bloomberg; Julia Chu, Head of Philanthropy at Credit Suisse, and Michael Useem of the Wharton School of Business.
Watch our recent interview with WWB CEO Mary Ellen Iskendarian:
What's the Significance?
In the discussion that followed, Chu discussed the importance of "patient capital," which means shifting emphasis from investing in individuals to investing in the communities that support them. It's easy to relate to the story of a single woman, she noted, but sometimes we miss the invisible network of people in the background who are supporting that individual -- the infrastructure that helps her fight for her place at the table.
Of course, there's still the question of why it has taken so long for women to achieve actual political and economic power. Tokenism is not enough. "Critical mass representation is the lever for change in gender parity," said Wolfe.
When we asked Iskendarian the most important lesson she'd learned about empowerment, she expressed the same sentiment. "I sort of regret having missed so many years of my life not knowing... just how absolutely central the role of women is to financial stability, to household stability. If kids are going to get to school and stay in school and have food to eat while they’re there and remain healthy while they’re there, it’s because the women are going to make that happen."
What Can You Do?
Click here to view the first segment of our interview with Mary Ellen Iskendarian, released on November 10, 2011, in which she discusses the potential for change.
Read more about Women's World Banking here.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?
- During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
- The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
- Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
The 116th Congress is set to break records in term of diversity among its lawmakers, though those changes are coming almost entirely from Democrats.
- Women and nonwhite candidates made record gains in the 2018 midterms.
- In total, almost half of the newly elected Congressional representatives are not white men.
- Those changes come almost entirely from Democrats; Republican members-elect are all white men except for one woman.
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