#wlf
Lecture Hop: World Leaders Forum on Women’s Work-Life Balance
It is difficult to have it all. So we have wigs.

It is difficult to have it all. So we have wigs.

Sometimes Bwog can’t get enough feminism.  And by that, we mean generally speaking insofar as feminism means being a DSpar fangirl and Bwog’s role within the walls of a women’s college.  On occasion, Bwog does find some feminism on the other side of Broadway.  On Monday, Bwog’s resident Columbia feminist Roberta Barnett checked out a Transatlantic dialogue between France and the United States as to how women might balance a career and family. 

With the publication of Lean In and Wonder Women and countless articles regarding how women and society might change to lead more fulfilling lives, a World Leaders Forum event on the topic was certainly overdue.  Co-sponsored by Walls and Bridges, a 10-day series of performances and critical explorations uniting French and American thinkers and artists from social science, philosophy, literature, and the arts, the discussion took place in a mixture of both French and English (fear not–  I have included no French in this piece!).   “The Balancing Act: Women, Work, and Family in the United States and France” was a discussion between French Minister for Women’s Rights Najat Vallaud-Belkacem and President of the New America Foundation (and author of the 2012 article in The Atlantic “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All”) Anne-Marie Slaughter.

Given the nature of the dialogue between two countries, both women noted the structural and political differences between the United States and France that allow for different attitudes and policies regarding gender.  Belkacem noted, “In France the State is more interventionist.  It’s not the job of women… or men… it’s the job of institutions to provide the equality.”  She went on to cite French policies of mandatory paid maternity and paternity.  Slaughter went on to point out that in the United States, the government is a lot more limited in what it can do (whether this be because of constitutional differences or simply bi-partisan gridlock, she did not say).  Therefore, her argument centered more around changing values than changing policies.  “I am convinced that we have to start with… work, family, and humans,” she said.

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LectureHop: Islamic Development Bank at the World Leaders Forum

Jed and his fellow Columbians, dressed to impress, sitting eagerly in the lecture hall waiting for Al-Madani to begin.

There’s nothing that delights Bwog more than to show off the extensive vocabulary we’ve accumulated in our years sitting through Gulati lectures. And by that, we mean Art History lectures and Creative Writing seminars. But one of our newest (and bestest) staff members, Econ Enthusiast and Vocabulary Purveyor Extraordinaire Jed Bush, hopped over to the Islamic Banking lecture at the World Leaders Forum, and translated a few of the biggest words for us. 

Greed, for lack of a better, uh… cliché, is good. That’s how it’s understood, at least, in the world of Western finance.

So as Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali Al-Madani spoke on the benefits Islamic Banking can bring to western markets, the recent financial crisis was at the forefront of the discussion. Jeffery Sachs handled the introductions for Dr. Al-Madani, briefly discussing their partnership in efforts to combat global poverty through the Millennium Villages and Drylands Iniative programs.

Al-Madani has been front and center at the Islamic Development Bank, having been its president for all but two years of its existence, since 1975. The Bank has 56 member nations, with a combined 1.5 billion people encompassing nearly 20% of the world’s population, and retains a AAA credit rating with the main rating agencies.  Yet despite the impressive resume, Al-Madani’s proposals were surprisingly rudimentary and underdeveloped when it came to their application in the western world of finance.

When Al-Madani took to the podium, he began by discussing some alarming facts regarding the 2008 financial crisis.  It singlehandedly wiped out “30% of the world’s gross output,” he said, creating rising unemployment rates around the globe and bringing growth to a halt in most corners of the world.  Most troubling about the financial crisis is that, as funds are being diverted towards kick-starting economic growth in domestic markets, many funds devoted to fighting poverty have been the first to be slashed—undermining years of work and further increasing the suffering of the poor and disadvantaged. However, he then abrubtly veered from discussing humanitarian efforts and dived into the issue of debt in western markets. Because that’s what really matters.

Read more of this LectureHop after the jump.

Bwoglines: Today Edition

Bogaevsky, Morning (1910), via Wikimedia

The appearance of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi at the WLF today has drawn some protest online. Will we see political activism on campus? (Various)

Why you skip class (kind of) and what to do about “anxiety-related school refusal”. (WSJ)

Not that this affects the vast majority of you campus-loving college students, but it looks like the unlimited MetroCard will stay unlimited, though it will jump to $104 from $89 per month. (NYT)

In slightly more exciting subway news, the MTA will add television screens to the shuttle train between Times Square and Grand Central. The screens will apparently exclusively show baseball highlights, so you’ll be able to pretend to watch Jeter & Co in the playoffs while trying to ignore homeless people. (WSJ)

Bloomberg is taking steps to attract and retain young artists in New York, the dirty art-grubbing plutocrat. (Capital NY)