Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Harriet Tubman

But one night in the midst of the secession crisis, while staying at the house of another black leader, a vision came to Tubman in a dream that all of America’s slaves were soon to be liberated – a vision so powerful that she rose from bed singing. Her host tried in vain to quiet her; perhaps their grandchildren would live to see the day of jubilee, he said, but they themselves surely would not. “I tell you, sir, you’ll see it, and you’ll see it soon,” she retorted, and sang again: “My people are free! My people are free.”

Moses' Last Exodus - NYTimes.com

Friday, November 19, 2010

Why Are Women in Some Countries Oppressed? - NYTimes.com

November 19, 2010, 1:54 pm

There’s much debate about why women in some countries are presidents and business executives, and women in others are locked up in the home and beaten or brutalized if they try to stand up for themselves. Obviously the differences are rooted in culture, but there are diverse theories about why some cultures resulted in more emancipated women and others in more oppressed women.

One theory, which originated with Ester Boserup in 1970, is that it has to do with the emergence of the plow in agriculture. The idea is that in areas (such as Africa or southern India) where plows were little used, women engaged in agriculture and became important to the economy. They became valued by society to some degree. In contrast, where the plow was introduced, such as northern India and parts of the Middle East, women could not compete so readily because plowing required great physical strength. The result was that women were relegated to work in the home, were valued less, and even today women have less labor force participation in those countries.

This issue is the topic of a thoughtful new paper and Aid Watch blog post. Apparently there’s a correlation between plow use and the marginalization of women, and it makes sense to me. But I also think much depends on whether women were part of the cash and trading economy: where they were, they had more economic value, while where they grew vegetables for subsistence they had less value. I also look at China, and it’s not apparent to me that there’s any correlation in terms of the status of women with those parts where the plow was used and those where it wasn’t.

Your thoughts?

Why Are Women in Some Countries Oppressed? - NYTimes.com

Friday, November 12, 2010

Aung San Suu Kyi

  • Born 1945, daughter of Burma's independence hero, General Aung San assassinated in 1947
  • 1960: Leaves Burma and is later educated at Oxford University
  • 1988: Returns to care for sick mother and is caught up in revolt against then-dictator Ne Win
  • 1989: Put under house arrest as Burma junta declares martial law
  • 1990: NLD wins election; military disregards result
  • 1991: Wins Nobel Peace Prize
  • 1995: Released from house arrest, but movements restricted
  • 2000: Near continuous period of house arrest begins
  • Sept 2007: First public appearance since 2003, greeting protesting Buddhist monks
  • November 2010: NLD boycotts first election in 20 years and is disbanded
Source: BBC News

BBC News - Burma generals 'sign Aung San Suu Kyi release order'

Burma generals 'sign Aung San Suu Kyi release order'