Thursday, June 26, 2008

How do you solve a problem like Mugabe?

Two serious posts in a row. I don't know what's come over me, but I'm on my soapbox and noone is getting between me and the 'publish post' button.

First of all Zimbabwe;

In my cosy western life, I sit by and do nothing while people are being beaten up, raped, attacked, turfed out of their homes and starved. I sit on my sofa (comfy), watch the news (wide screen) and read the internet (broadband) and feel as in touch or not as I like with world affairs. If I get cross at my country's politicians, I can use my vote. Or not. It doesn't matter too much - no one will beat me up, sue me, try me for treason, maim or molest me for it.

Meanwhile, Mugabe and his henchmen get up to all sorts of nasty shit and there's very little it seems anyone can do to touch him. Sanctions don't affect him - they are just more grist to his anti-colonialist mill. Instead sanctions just makes life so much harder for his countrymen.

Before Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of the election run-off, I've been staggered at reports I've heard of Zimbabweans being beaten up, but still determined to vote for the MDC - because that's the only way they had left to change their lives. Now they don't even have that.

Not to say that I blame Tsvangirai for pulling out. He's probably saved a lot of lives and limbs by doing that. Without a meaningful number of UN observers across the country, it would have been a truly bloody election campaign.

What this post is about is not staying silent and not accepting. I want to find ways to challenge the UK's politicians to find other ways to pressure Mugabe into stepping down or holding free and fair elections. I'm also trying to find which charities are active in Zimbabwe and finding out what can usefully be done to support them.

I want to form an opinion on sanctions - if they really aren't working, is there any value in overturning them and ploughing food, products and other resources into the country so as to improve the lives of as many people as possible. Would this send a message of support to the Zimbabwe people and support them in demanding free and fair elections?

If you've got any useful links in this respect, please pass them on.

Second - a very exciting update on equality in the UK;

Sarah over at Your daughter is obsessed with meat and produce is cross at Nancy Pelosi for acknowledging but failing to challenge sexual discrimination. Hilary faced sexual discrimination from the press during her campaign but that 'comes with the territory'. It is disappointing when influential women fail to challenge the discrimination they see around them.

So let's hear a big round of applause for ... Harriet Harman.

Today the Equality Minister unveiled details of the new Equalities Bill which would demand that public sector organisations and the private sector businesses that supply them, publish details of the gender pay gap.

By lifting the lid on the pay gap, it will become clear just where women are being undervalued and give them the opportunityt to challenge inequalities where they find them.

Wow. Wow. And wow again. This is the stuff of Icelandic dreams. It is the kind of legislation that actually tackles institutionalised discrimination.

There's other stuff in the bill about tackling ageism and positive discrimination for women and minorities which businesses can choose in invoke if they wish to change the profile of their otherwise white/male workforce or board rooms.

Interestingly, the comments on the BBC website are all very anti this Bill. They seem to persist in missing the point about tackling entrenched discriminatory attitudes. Also they think that the Bill would enable a white male to be passed over in favour of a less able women or minority candidate. That's not the idea. Best candidates should be chosen, it's only when there are equally good candidates could an employer consider choosing a candidate so as to improve the diversity of its workforce.

Listening to the Today programme this morning, it was great to hear the following exchange;

presenter: The Daily Mail reports this Bill makes women more equal than men.
Harriet: Ha ha. Chance would be a fine thing.

There's been progress made in equal opportunities since the second world war, but how refreshing to see that there's a committment to doing even more.

1 comment:

scrappysue said...

our government service equal pay act was passed in 1960, followed by the equal pay act in 1972, followed by the employment equity act in 1990. all essentially say 'equal work for equal pay' which has generally meant women earn around 69 cents for every dollar a man earns. go figure.

as far as hilary is concerned (and i'm guessing you mean clinton), my take on that was that she chose to avoid the obvious 'gender bias' issues in favour of the 'more important' stuff. fat lot of good it did her. i was so sure she'd win!!!