The Global Empowerment of Women: a political struggle for more equitable distribution of power and resources 

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 00.17.13Around the world women are more likely than men to live in poverty. Patriarchal power relations and subordinating systems of governance and culture leave them without access to land, income, or decision making, and deny them education and political participation. They are routinely subjected to violence and sexual abuse, frequently married as children or victimised by dowry or honour-related crimes, or trafficked into forced labour and prostitution. Changing this state of inequality and discrimination and transforming the norms and structures responsible is a complex multi-dimensional process, crucially involving participation and influence of the women themselves. Pilar Domingo will examine this state of affairs and discuss how it may be remedied. She is a Research Fellow at the Overseas Development Institute, where she has worked on gender equality and women’s rights, and political transitions, and leads work on rule of law and justice sector reform. She has published widely within these areas, and specifically on issues of gender equality, women’s voice and leadership, and access to decision-making roles. See youtube discussion.

The Last Taboo: What to do about the global sanitation crisis?

Maggie BlackAlthough holy men in India claim otherwise on their own behalf, every person on the planet has to divest themselves of wastes on a continuing basis. Yet 2.4 billion people still have nowhere decent or hygienic to do so. There are many reasons for the global sanitation crisis, from technological to economic to political. But overshadowing them all are the socio-cultural taboos surrounding these unfortunate bodily processes and what to do with their result. Maggie Black has been writing on water, sanitation and hygiene issues as they affect people in poor communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America since she was first commissioned by UNICEF to write a book for the 1990s Water and Sanitation Decade. Several others followed, culminating in The Last Taboo published for World Sanitation Year 2008. She now revisits the topic and asks: Has anything changed?

Oceans: conserving our threatened life support system

Professor Callum Roberts – 25 April, 2016 – 18:45Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 08.39.09

Oceans form the earth’s largest life support system. They produce 50% of the earth’s oxygen, and absorb the majority of our carbon. They are a crucial part of the cycle that produces our rain, and provide over a billion people with seafood as a main source of protein. But overfishing, the destruction of coastal habitats, pollution and climate change are threatening their health and the very survival of the vital ecosystem that depends upon them. This deteriorating situation imperils us all.

Callum Roberts is professor of marine conservation at the University of York. His research focuses on threats to marine ecosystems and species, and on finding the means to protect them. His main research interests include documenting the impacts of fishing on marine life, both historic and modern, and exploring the effectiveness of marine protected areas. For the last 25 years he has used his science background to make the case for stronger protection for marine life at both national and international levels. His award winning book, The Unnatural History of the Seacharts the effects of 1000 years of exploitation on ocean life. Callum’s most recent book, Ocean of life: how our seas are changing, shows how the oceans are changing under human influence and was shortlisted for the Royal Society Winton Science Book Prize. His research team provided the scientific underpinning for half a million square kilometres of marine protection in the North Atlantic that was established at the OSPAR ministerial meeting in September 2010. In 2015 he was named by BBC Wildlife Magazine as one of the UK’s fifty most influential conservation heroes.

Venezuela: can the Bolivarian Revolution resist the forces of the right?

In December lVenezuelaast year Venezuela’s political right wing gained a majority in the National Assembly, defeating the country’s socialist PSUV party, which for 17 years has worked unremittingly in the interests of the most vulnerable sectors of society. Supported by the US and the neo-liberal block, this right-wing resurgence has destabilised the country and provoked dismay among the left leaning countries of Latin America, which have formed a new Parliamentary Network to confront the threat of neo-liberalism in the region. To make matters worse, the collapse of global oil prices and an unprecedented rise in inflation have adversely affected the economy, and President Maduro has been forced to declare a state of economic emergency. The National Assembly attempted unsuccessfully to block this measure, and its leader Henry Ramos Allup has now called for President Maduro to be removed from office. Dr Francisco Dominguez, Head of the Centre for Brazilian and Latin American Studies at Middlesex University, and Secretary of the Venezuelan Solidarity Campaign, will discuss this extremely grave situation with us.

“Land grabbing, corruption, human rights abuse – the exploitation of the global poor”

rubber_baronsJulian Oram is Land Campaign leader at Global Witness.  Many of the world’s worst environmental and human rights abuses are driven by the exploitation of natural resources and corruption in the global political and economic system.  Global Witness campaigns to end this by carrying out hard-hitting investigations to expose these abuses and campaign for change.  Julian will cover the following issues:

  • Why has land grabbing become a major global social issue, and what have been the recent drivers behind the dramatic rise in large-scale land acquisitions over the past 10-15 years.
  • Where are the current major global ‘hot spots’ of land grabbing, and what are the consequences in terms of livelihoods, poverty, culture, social disruption, governance, conflict and environmental destruction?
  • What have been some of the social, political and market responses at local, national and international levels?
  • Focus on the Greater Mekong Region: recent causes and effects of land grabbing in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar; and how GW is working with our partners and allies to address land governance issues in the region?

Recording of event:

Philanthrocapitalism: who really benefits from the Philanthropy Industry?

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 20.17.19Large charitable organisations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, are currently rivalling governments as the providers of social welfare, yet the businesses which generate their charitable largesse frequently contribute to economic instability and compound global inequalities. There are 85,000 of these private foundations in the US, about 5,000 now established each year, and the distinction between profit making and benign activity is becoming increasingly blurred. Linsey McGoey is a senior lecturer in sociology at the University of Essex, and a former adviser to the WHO. She has published widely in the media, and her new book No Such Thing as a Free Gift: the Gates Foundation and the Price of Philanthropy (Verso, 2015) examines the issue, asking whether this market-based philanthropy is actually doing good or simply perpetuating the inequalities it purports to remedy.

THE NEW SLAVERY: Human trafficking and the use of slave labour

kevin_bales_disposable_peoplekevin_balesHigh profit exploitation of people is increasing rapidly with globalisation of markets and millions of people are being subjected to a form of modern day slavery. With millions plunged into economic vulnerability by famine and market forces  and many more displaced and forced to flee because of war, the scale of the problem is huge and often ignored or condoned by corporations, governments and international bodies. At the same time highly organised and sophisticated criminal groups are making enormous profit out of human trafficking that has devastating consequences  for women and children in particular.
Kevin Bales is Professor of Contemporary Slavery and and Deputy Director of the Wilberforce institute for the Study of Slavery at the University of Hull. He is a Co-Founder of Free the Slaves and has for many years been one of the leading campaigners on the issue of modern day slavery, advising governments and the UN as well as writing extensively about the issue. In 2002 his documentary film ‘Slavery: A Global Investigation’ won the Emmy Award for best documentary. He will look at the current situation regarding slavery and human trafficking and what should be done to improve it, in particular in relation to the refugee crisis that is engulfing the Middle East. Professor Bales has written two books “Disposable People” and “Ending Slavery”   See also the link to TED talk on slavery in February 2010

BRAZIL on the verge of crisis? The real depth of ‘impeachment’

In size the fifth largest country in the world and with an economy that is the seventh largest by GDP, Brazil looked set to be a successful rising global power.  However since her re-election last year the President, Dilma Rousseff, has become hugely unpopular and there are calls for her impeachment and removal from power. Against a background of endemic corruption the economy is in crisis with outflows of capital and contracting GDP and the political scenario has been described as the worst since the return of democracy in the 1980s. The social consequences of this meltdown have been felt  with growing social protest and one of the highest rates of death through violence in the world.

Juan Grigera is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow based at the UCL Institute of the Americas and is undertaking research on the long term economic performance of Brazil and Argentina from the 1950s. He will look at the current economic and political situation in Brazil and the longer term prospects for political and economic stability.

The Mediterranean Refugee Crisis – asylum seekers and the EU

don_flynnasylum_seekers_boatThis year 350,000 migrants have already arrived in Europe by sea, over 2,600 have drowned in the Mediterranean, and the flow of refugees shows no sign of reducing. While the EU has recently stepped up its inadequate rescue operations at sea, no coordinated effort to ensure the right to seek asylum has been reached, and individual members’ policies differ profoundly. French and German requests for each country to take a mandatory number of migrants have been refused, and the EU’s ‘Dublin Regulation’placing responsibility for examining asylum seekers’ claims with the first EU country that a migrant reaches, has proved unworkable. Greece (the arrival point for Syrian and Afghani refugees) and Italy (the arrival point for Africans, predominantly Eritreans), are unable to cope. Don Flynn is the Director and founder of the Migrants Rights Network, a board member of the UK Race and Europe Network (UKREN), and chairs the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM). He will discuss this humanitarian catastrophe with us.


Mediterranean Refugee Crisis by Friendslemondediplo on Mixcloud

Continuity or Change? Mapping the Political Economy of the Middle East

adam_hanieh_lineages_revoltadam_haniehThe Arab uprisings that erupted in 2010-2011 have typically been presented through the narrow lens of dictatorship versus democracy. In a region now wracked by conflict and displacement, Adam Hanieh argues that a full understanding of both the uprisings and their aftermath requires a deeper examination of the Middle East political economy. Forms of authoritarianism are a function of Arab capitalism itself, particularly as it has developed through the neoliberal period. The Middle East’s shifting integration with the world market – and the new patterns of uneven and combined development across the region – are profoundly impacting the nature of Arab capitalism as well as forms of political contestation. Dr Hanieh is a Senior Lecturer in Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), where his research examines the political economy of the Middle East, with a particular focus on the Gulf Cooperation Council. He is an international advisory board member for the journal Studies in Political Economy and is the author of Capitalism and Class in the Gulf Arab States (Palgrave-MacMillan 2011), and the recently published Lineages of Revolt: Issues of Contemporary Capitalism in the Middle East.


Political Economy of the Middle East by Friendslemondediplo on Mixcloud

20 Nov 2015