Not if but how

10/12/2008

One of the many sorry aspects of the torture of Nia Glassie was that neighbours knew it was happening but didn’t interfere.

In the wake of that, we’re quite rightly being told that what happens in other people’s homes is sometimes our business.

But if we hesitate to act against something we know to be wrong in someone else’s home,  how much harder is it to act when the crimes are happening in other people’s countries?

When do the atrocities being inflicted on Zimbabwe and its people by Robert Mugabe become our business?

zimbabwe1

Macdoctor writes of the slow and horrible genocide which is happening there.

Inquiring Mind posts on the Zimbabwean nightmare; quotes the Archibishop of York  John Sentamu who says Mugabe must answer for his crimes against humanity; and asks how long this disgrace can endure.

The ODT says other African leaders have been accused of soft-pedalling on Mugabwe but sees a change:

Leading the charge is Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who has urged the African Union to call an emergency meeting to authorise armed intervention.

“If no troops are available then the AU must allow the UN to send its forces into Zimbabwe with immediate effect,” he said, “to take control over the country and ensure urgent humanitarian assistance to the people dying of cholera.”

Whether or not and under what circumstances the UN, or the AU for that matter, can claim a mandate to invade Zimbabwe – and liberate it from itself – is ill-defined and problematic.

The complexities of the situation are further heightened by the promises of aid for Zimbabwe’s diseased and suffering, aid which is the only plausible response from a world faced with a humanitarian disaster on a scale unimaginable in this formerly wealthy African nation.

The terrible irony is that such aid probably serves only to prolong the terrible dictator’s increasingly tenuous grip on power.

Almost everyone agrees that Robert Mugabe must go.

The big question is how to make him.

And not just how to make him, but how to do it in a way which minimises further loss of life and speeds the return to political stability and the improvements to the  health of the Zimbawean people and their economy.


NZ 5th in gender equality

13/11/2008

New Zealand is ranked fifth in an international list of countries which have closed the gender gap.

Norway heads the list, and three other Scandanavian countries dominate the ‘Gender Gap Index’, which monitors progress in political, education and economic spheres.

New Zealand came fifth and was the first non-Scandanavian country after Finland, Sweden and Iceland.

130 countries were monitored. The UK rated 13th and Australia 21st.

Ranking tells only part of the story, being not as good as perfect isn’t bad and being better than appalling isn’t good.

I take it the ranking looks at women’s participation, but I wonder how we’d all rate if it also looked at men’s involvement in what have been, and maybe still are, predomiantly female roles and activities?


Attitude easier to change than law

19/09/2008

No Minister  asks a question of feminists in response to the survey which found more than a third of women think they don’t have equal rights: 

Is it that the survey company defined rights in a foolish way, that the respondents have a confused definition of rights, or just that a third of NZ women are into special pleading?

I’m a peopleist (not sure how to spell it) rather than a feminist because I think equal rights should be based on the acceptance that people are people and they are entitled to equality because of that not because they are part of a sub-set of humanity.

However, as I commented last night (four posts earlier) equality isn’t just about enshrining rights in law it’s about changing attitudes and some people still think some other people are lesser beings.

This doesn’t just apply to women and ethnic minorities, some middle aged pakeha men could sometimes argue that they’d been discriminated against because of their gender and ethnicity.

Take a look at the party lists. You can rightly argue that this positive discrimination is to improve the gender and ethnic balance because selection processes in the past deliberately or not resulted in a fairly homogenous parliament, but all else being equal a woman or someone who isn’t of full European descent is almost certain to find themselves in a better position than a man who is.

Back to the survey, I think everyone is equal under the law in New Zealand but psychosclerosis (hardening of the attitudes) prevents some people from accepting that and acting on it. So while all people have equal rights not all find equal acceptance.

Apropos of this is Adam Smith’s quote of the day at Inquiring Mind:

Attitude is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than what people do or say. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill.  – W.C. Fields.


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