Sunday, March 18, 2007

Women's Rights Debate

My previous post of Robert Fox's op-ed piece about women's rights received some comments by my friend Xander. I've decided to post his two comments and my responses because I know some people don't check/see that there are comments and I think there are important points raised in them. (Evrim's point is addressed within)

From the previous post:
Xander said...

This article is a dance between rational and crazy. The author gets carried away with his rhetoric on several occasions. Comparing the plight of women in Zimbabwe to women in aboriginal communities in Canada is absurb and insulting. Reading this, makes me question the director's ability to prioritize and direct funds to the people who need them the most. I would now hesitate to support Oxfam as a result of reading this article.

7:58 PM
Darren said...

Yes, it would be absurd if he actually did that. Perhaps your hesitation would be mitigated if you read more carefully.

Looking at the quotation:
"Women with whom we work in Zimbabwe, in Guatemala, in Ethiopia can't quite believe that in a country as rich as Canada we have women in aboriginal communities and elsewhere across this country who can't exercise their right to access basic services. They wonder how they can overcome huge barriers in their own countries when they see a country such as Canada stepping back from its obligations to ensure women's rights are respected."

He does not actually compare the two. He reported statements by other women, and those statements are logical.

Perhaps give me quoted citations that you deem 'crazy' to support a stance that currently makes little sense to me.

10:56 PM
Xander said...

A break down of the crazy:
“It is women and girls who have first felt the brunt of climate change as they spend a growing number of hours each day walking ever farther to fetch water and firewood.”
Climate Change has nothing to do with this and the head of an international aid organization should know that. This is just a case of human activity over stressing the environment and depleting local resources. This is a process that has occurred in various parts of the world for thousands of years. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desertification http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deforestation on Wiki. I can charitably interpret his statement as ignorance of the science behind the field he is administering or a disingenuous exploitation of public concern over climate change. Either way it reflects badly on him.
“Oxfam works with courageous, creative women around the world who are making a real difference to this grim picture – supporting women farmers and factory workers to defend their rights and improve their incomes, helping stop the spread of HIV and AIDS by ending violence against women, promoting women's leadership in peace-building and in preventing and responding to humanitarian crises made worse by conflict and climate change.”
There is that climate change again. This whole paragraph uses a lot of appealing words and ideas but makes little sense. I don see how stopping the spread of HIV will occur by ending violence against women unless you are talking about rape. Why can’t we end violence against women just for the sake of ending violence against women? This paragraph doesn’t give me confidence in his ability to isolate and cope with complicated issues.
“In every case, this work is grounded in women's rights. It's not about charity. It's not about political correctness. It's not just that the impact is likely to be much greater when you secure women's participation in planning and implementing change.” Here he just wants to distance himself from the terms politically correct and charity which have fallen out of favor.
“It's that until respect for women's rights is central to who we are, how we treat each other, how we organize markets and production, and how we choose to govern ourselves, the prospects for making substantive and sustainable progress in ending poverty and injustice are doomed.”
Okay I agree women’s rights are important, but they are not that important. The world does not and should not revolve around women’s rights. First we should be concerned about the welfare of people as a whole and then consider whether women are being unnecessarily or unfairly burdened by policy or convention. He is making women’s rights out to be an absolute, a sacred cow; this is another example of emotive, unclear thinking.
“As Canadians, we pride ourselves on the progress we've made to recognize and promote women's rights and equality among women and men. But our record is spotty at best.”
Compared to whose record? Compared to what standard? Contrary to popular belief no God on high ever gave us a convenient user manual of how to treat each other. We have had to figure out how to treat each other on our own. Human rights and women’s rights are relatively new inventions and ones we haven’t perfected yet. By today’s standards of course Canadians of past were barbarous, that’s a logical consequence of progress.
“Women in Canada, too, are more likely to be poor, earn less than men and find themselves the victim of violence. The horrific experience of the disappeared women of Vancouver, Edmonton and elsewhere haunts us.”
This may not be due to a lack of rights, as long as there is physical violence, those who are less able to physically defend themselves, are more likely to become victims. As for earning less than man, it may just be that all things being equal women are more inclined to focus less on the accumulation of wealth and power and more on family than men. As long as the women who want to compete are given the opportunity who are we to say that society is not well unless women are as competitive and lustful as men.
“Women with whom we work in Zimbabwe, in Guatemala, in Ethiopia can't quite believe that in a country as rich as Canada we have women in aboriginal communities and elsewhere across this country who can't exercise their right to access basic services.”
First who is telling women in Zimbabwe, Guatemala and Ethiopia about women in Canada? I thought Oxfam was trying to feed and educate people, not tell them how lucky they are. You may be surprised to learn that when I was born, my father was unemployed and we were living in a trailer, in an aboriginal community far from some of the “basic services” Mr. Fox is likely claiming that women in Aboriginal communities lack. Still we had access to social services, emergency health care (by ambulance or medivac) and social mobility that women in Zimbabwe, Guatemala and Ethiopia could only envy and dream of. My point is this, women in those trouble countries are not authorities on the plight of aboriginal women in Canada. They only know what Oxfam workers have told them about the issue so why report it? Because of the absurd juxtaposition that’s why. Mr. Fox is implying through rhetoric that women in aboriginal communities are pitiable by women in countries like Zimbabwe, Guatemala and Ethiopia. A notion I can tell you as a person who has lived on and visited multiple aboriginal communities, is absurd.
“The removal of equality from the mandate of the Status of Women department, the gutting of its budget and the closure of most offices sends a chill down the spines of women around the globe who are committed to ending discrimination.”
I didn’t realize amount of expensive bureaucracy is directly proportional to rights. Just because a department has a catchy name doesn’t mean it is effective.
“Equally disturbing is the prohibition on federal funding to support advocacy and campaigning on women's rights.”
Okay, read this carefully and think what he means. The federal government is refusing to spend money on expense advertising promoting woman’s rights in Canada. I think this is fiscally responsible maybe they could spend the money on helping people instead of paying advertisement companies to tell us what we already know.
“These actions, after eliminating the Court Challenges program that played such a key role in protecting women's and minority rights, send exactly the wrong signal to the world about Canada's commitment to promoting full respect for women's rights.”
Okay, they may have eliminated federal funding for the Court Challenges program but the program still exists and more importantly so do the rights the program assisted cases defending. There are still lots of other organization and methods of funding court challenges. I have a hard time believing that this will lend to gross violations of rights in Canada being unheard. It certainly doesn’t reduce us to a Zimbabwe.
“When combined with the reversal of the national child-care program and other actions, it seriously undermines Canada's progress toward meeting its obligations under the United Nations Convention to Eliminate all Forms of Discrimination against Women.”
National child-care tax rebate instead of federally funded program  ?  Discrimination against Women, Of Course, it all makes sense!!
“To achieve this vision, fundamental changes are needed. And in that process, Canada should be showing leadership. Nothing less should be good enough.” Canada does show leadership on woman’s rights and human rights. Wake up Mr. Fox.

My point is not that he is completely wrong. It is that he gets carried away with his rhetoric and seems emotive and irrational. He seems unable to quantitatively distinguish the magnitude of different wrongs and sufferings. I would not trust such a person to lead an international organization and distribute funding in an effective manner.

12:17 AM
Darren said...

Xander,
Before I go through the points you raise, I wanted to point out that when two people debate the words of a third, there can’t help but be a lack of information as we don’t know the intentions behind many of the statements. I try to stick to the denotative or most likely meaning of words being used (a perilous but still the most appropriate path).The only person who might be able to answer those queries is Mr. Fox.
The quick summary is that some things I think you are wrong about while others we just disagree about. Many of these disagreements then lead to statements I consider incorrect and subsequently argue against.

I’m going to start with your final thoughts and then go through your interpretations of Robert’s piece followed by my analysis.

Your thoughts:
“My point is not that he is completely wrong.” We agree. Very few people are completely wrong about anything.

“It is that he gets carried away with his rhetoric and seems emotive and irrational.”
I would say he gets emotive, but it isn’t necessarily irrational. This is explored further below.
“He seems unable to quantitatively distinguish the magnitude of different wrongs and sufferings.”
I’m not sure if he can or not, that is an empirical question, but in general terms I believe he could. Most would agree murder is worse than theft. But would most agree that murder is a 9/10 and theft a 2/10 on a scale of badness? What about theft being 3/10? Well, what was stolen? One can see a multitude of problem here.
Additionally, I believe most people do not think in numbers. I know I think more quantitatively than most, but I’d be lying if I said I truly thought in equations when discussing suffering.

“I would not trust such a person to lead an international organization and distribute funding in an effective manner.”
Obviously that is your free choice. From my experiences, I feel differently.
I would then ask whom do you trust? Which organization(s) do you support and why? Seriously, perhaps you know a better charity/NGO than I do.

As I see it you used 12 quotations (1, 2, 3) from the article followed by your analysis which will be followed by my analysis (1a, 2a) so I’ll number them accordingly. On to his words and your comments:

(1) “It is women and girls who have first felt the brunt of climate change as they spend a growing number of hours each day walking ever farther to fetch water and firewood.”

(1a) You said “Climate Change has nothing to do with this and the head of an international aid organization should know that. This is just a case of human activity over stressing the environment and depleting local resources. This is a process that has occurred in various parts of the world for thousands of years. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desertification http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deforestation on Wiki. I can charitably interpret his statement as ignorance of the science behind the field he is administering or a disingenuous exploitation of public concern over climate change. Either way it reflects badly on him.”

Basically, I think you completely misread what he wrote. No where did Fox say why climate change was occurring. You seem to confuse what climate change is, with who might be differentially affected. Two examples: (a) It is Antarctica that has felt the brunt of ozone depletion, with the largest hole in the ozone often above its landmass. This is just a true statement. It says nothing about causality. And if one were living in Antarctica they would be differentially affected by ozone depletion. This is obvious.
(b) Bangladesh will be affected much more so than Canada will if sea levels rise. In fact, they might be under water while we just lose a little coast. Again this is a fact, and the implications are obvious: some regions/peoples will be differentially affected. Your point makes no sense.


(2) “Oxfam works with courageous, creative women around the world who are making a real difference to this grim picture – supporting women farmers and factory workers to defend their rights and improve their incomes, helping stop the spread of HIV and AIDS by ending violence against women, promoting women's leadership in peace-building and in preventing and responding to humanitarian crises made worse by conflict and climate change.”

(2a) You wrote: “There is that climate change again.” See above paragraph.
You also wrote: “This whole paragraph uses a lot of appealing words and ideas but makes little sense. I don see how stopping the spread of HIV will occur by ending violence against women unless you are talking about rape. Why can’t we end violence against women just for the sake of ending violence against women? This paragraph doesn’t give me confidence in his ability to isolate and cope with complicated issues.

Let’s look at Fox’s paragraph with my comments in parentheses:
“Oxfam works with courageous, creative women [true] around the world [true] who are making a real difference to this grim picture [true] – supporting women farmers [true] and factory workers [true] to defend their rights [true] and improve their incomes [true], helping stop the spread of HIV and AIDS by ending violence against women [true], promoting women's leadership in peace-building [true] and in preventing and responding to humanitarian crises made worse by conflict [true] and climate change [true].
So you see something that makes little sense, I see at least 11 true statements. Fox is describing some of the activities of Oxfam Canada. I risk being presumptuous, but I doubt you actually know what they are doing.
Secondly, why couldn’t he be talking about rape? When living in a culture of violence and impunity, and where consent is not a right, there are numerous impacts to such an environment. Thirdly, he doesn’t say we shouldn’t end violence against women for its own sake, you are making an improper deduction. His exact words are “…helping stop the spread of HIV and AIDS by ending violence against women…” I see a link between violence and the spread of HIV. If you do not, that is your opinion.
Finally, because I believe your final comments now have little support, I would say one should be cautious estimating their own ability to assess complicated issues.

(3) “In every case, this work is grounded in women's rights. It's not about charity. It's not about political correctness. It's not just that the impact is likely to be much greater when you secure women's participation in planning and implementing change.”
(3a) Here he just wants to distance himself from the terms politically correct and charity which have fallen out of favor.
I would say this is possibly true. But one would have to ask him. Perhaps he truly doesn’t think it is about charity or political correctness. You are being presumptuous. Secondly, his last sentence is a true one. Change is greater when women are involved.

(4) “It's that until respect for women's rights is central to who we are, how we treat each other, how we organize markets and production, and how we choose to govern ourselves, the prospects for making substantive and sustainable progress in ending poverty and injustice are doomed.”

(4a) I’ll analyze your comments sentence by sentence.
(i) “Okay I agree women’s rights are important, but they are not that important.”
I highly disagree. They actually are that important. I really think you are unaware of the various situations in the world which validate Fox’s statement. I guess it’ll be your stats versus mine.
(ii) ”The world does not and should not revolve around women’s rights.”
True and true. (The world should revolve around it’s centre of gravity and molten core:P)
(iii) “First we should be concerned about the welfare of people as a whole and then consider whether women are being unnecessarily or unfairly burdened by policy or convention.”
You are correct, but your flaw is that this has been done to a certain degree. People are concerned about people as a whole and then it has been discovered that women are in fact being unfairly burdened by both policy and convention. This is exactly why it is important to focus on women’s rights.
Secondly, last time I checked, women are human. Thus if you support women’s rights, you do support human rights. The reason for the focus on women’s rights is that for ‘some reason’ old men in power don’t seem to care too much about women. It is precisely because women are differentially disadvantaged that extra focus is required.
(iv)”He is making women’s rights out to be an absolute, a sacred cow; this is another example of emotive, unclear thinking.”
Perhaps he is. You’d have to ask him. I disagree with your interpretation. Secondly, why say ‘sacred cow’ he didn’t specify Hindu women? :P
Lastly, honestly, your words for Mr. Fox are more representative of your own comments than his initial words.

(5) “As Canadians, we pride ourselves on the progress we've made to recognize and promote women's rights and equality among women and men. But our record is spotty at best.”
(5a) You wrote: “Compared to whose record? Compared to what standard? Contrary to popular belief no God on high ever gave us a convenient user manual of how to treat each other. We have had to figure out how to treat each other on our own. Human rights and women’s rights are relatively new inventions and ones we haven’t perfected yet. By today’s standards of course Canadians of past were barbarous, that’s a logical consequence of progress.”
You are correct in that he doesn’t offer a specific comparison. Again, one would have to ask him. I took it to mean in comparison to how Canadians see ourselves. This is another situation in which one can’t be sure.

(6) “Women in Canada, too, are more likely to be poor, earn less than men and find themselves the victim of violence. The horrific experience of the disappeared women of Vancouver, Edmonton and elsewhere haunts us.”
(6a) Again, sentence by sentence:
(i) “This may not be due to a lack of rights, as long as there is physical violence, those who are less able to physically defend themselves, are more likely to become victims.”
True, and the conclusion I reach is that those people should be protected accordingly. Your words aren’t clear, but it comes across as, “well, what are you doing to do?”
(ii) “As for earning less than man, it may just be that all things being equal women are more inclined to focus less on the accumulation of wealth and power and more on family than men.”
Many things may be, but in fact aren’t. You don’t offer any support for your claim and based on my readings, I would say differential wealth accumulation strategies do not account for the discrepancy.
(iii) “As long as the women who want to compete are given the opportunity who are we to say that society is not well unless women are as competitive and lustful as men.”
You aren’t anyone or are someone. Basically, people can say what they want. I would just disagree that women are given the same opportunity.

(7)“Women with whom we work in Zimbabwe, in Guatemala, in Ethiopia can't quite believe that in a country as rich as Canada we have women in aboriginal communities and elsewhere across this country who can't exercise their right to access basic services.”
(7a) Again, point by point:
(i) “First who is telling women in Zimbabwe, Guatemala and Ethiopia about women in Canada?”
That is an empirical question. I would cautiously assume Oxfam members are sharing information with their partner groups in such countries. Who knows, they may even get international news once in a while.
(ii) “I thought Oxfam was trying to feed and educate people, not tell them how lucky they are.”
This statement, though true, is argumentatively useless. Do you seriously think one shouldn’t talk to people while feeding them? Or what is your definition of education? Of course it is useful for a Canadian organization to discuss human rights issues in Canada. Social justice is all very connected. Additionally, it isn’t as if such information comes at the exclusion of all others. Would you seriously take issue with someone mentioning, in say 2-5 minutes the plight of aboriginal communities? I disagree with you entirely.
(iii) “You may be surprised to learn that when I was born, my father was unemployed and we were living in a trailer, in an aboriginal community far from some of the “basic services” Mr. Fox is likely claiming that women in Aboriginal communities lack.”
I was surprised, but if you think aboriginal communities are not worse off than nearly every other group/area in Canada I think you are completely wrong. Again, your stats versus mine.
(iv) “Still we had access to social services, emergency health care (by ambulance or medivac) and social mobility that women in Zimbabwe, Guatemala and Ethiopia could only envy and dream of.”
True. But again, you are missing the point. It is true that life for many in Zimbabwe is atrocious, but that doesn’t mean that life in aboriginal communities isn’t terrible. Secondly, and I’m sure you’ve done this in Japan, one almost instinctually corrects misunderstandings about one’s own country. Many people think Canada is very cold, or has a larger population than is does, or that they can drive across it in a couple days. These things aren’t true. Similarly, life is aboriginal communities isn’t great. We might just disagree on this.
(v) “My point is this, women in those trouble countries are not authorities on the plight of aboriginal women in Canada.”
No they aren’t. Technically, Fox never said they were.
(vi) “They only know what Oxfam workers have told them about the issue so why report it? Because of the absurd juxtaposition that’s why. Mr. Fox is implying through rhetoric that women in aboriginal communities are pitiable by women in countries like Zimbabwe, Guatemala and Ethiopia.”
Not quite. The words he used were “…can't quite believe…” This does not meant he pity Canadians. Just that they are shocked. I believe this to be true.
(vii) “A notion I can tell you as a person who has lived on and visited multiple aboriginal communities, is absurd.”
Again, I believe differently. So it goes.

(8) “The removal of equality from the mandate of the Status of Women department, the gutting of its budget and the closure of most offices sends a chill down the spines of women around the globe who are committed to ending discrimination.”
(8a) “I didn’t realize amount of expensive bureaucracy is directly proportional to rights.”
No one said it did. But it is true that with less offices open, less services will be offered.
“Just because a department has a catchy name doesn’t mean it is effective.”
Very true. But again, you haven’t disproved his point. And since he technically only said “…sends a chill down the spines of women…” one would only have to find more than one woman that experienced a chill. More realistically, I think many women were disconcerted by the aforementioned development.

(9) “Equally disturbing is the prohibition on federal funding to support advocacy and campaigning on women's rights.”
(9a)
(i) “Okay, read this carefully and think what he means.”
Okay, I believe I did.
(ii) “The federal government is refusing to spend money on expense advertising promoting woman’s rights in Canada. I think this is fiscally responsible maybe they could spend the money on helping people instead of paying advertisement companies to tell us what we already know.”
Ah, but as women’s rights aren’t fully implemented, there needs to be more done. One of the ways for this is through advertising. I think we can both admit we have little specific knowledge regarding the success of this particular federal agency.

(10) “These actions, after eliminating the Court Challenges program that played such a key role in protecting women's and minority rights, send exactly the wrong signal to the world about Canada's commitment to promoting full respect for women's rights.”
(10a)
(i) “Okay, they may have eliminated federal funding for the Court Challenges program but the program still exists and more importantly so do the rights the program assisted cases defending.”
But not necessarily in the same manner nor degree. I’d have to research this more to debate more intensely.
(ii) “There are still lots of other organization and methods of funding court challenges. I have a hard time believing that this will lend to gross violations of rights in Canada being unheard. It certainly doesn’t reduce us to a Zimbabwe.”
Again, no one said it did. You are inferring numerous statements/deductions which were never made nor implied. Obviously that is my contention, but I still stand by it. He only said it will send the ‘wrong signal’ and this is another empirical question. One would have to survey the world and ask what they think. You seem to presume the answer.

(11) “When combined with the reversal of the national child-care program and other actions, it seriously undermines Canada's progress toward meeting its obligations under the United Nations Convention to Eliminate all Forms of Discrimination against Women.”
(11a) “National child-care tax rebate Discrimination against Women, ? instead of federally funded program Of Course, it all makes sense!!”
Do you eve know what the UNCEF says? I believe what Fox wrote is accurate. I don’t see the validity of your words. (This could be because of font differences and excluded text, but I doubt it)

(12)“To achieve this vision, fundamental changes are needed. And in that process, Canada should be showing leadership. Nothing less should be good enough.”
(12a) “Canada does show leadership on woman’s rights and human rights. Wake up Mr. Fox.”
One could say that he should have said ‘more’ leadership. I’ll give you that. But one could argue for what leadership means and we are behind other European countries. I won’t make that argument but instead say that I think you are being unnecessarily picky.

Your final comments were already addressed at the beginning of my post.

In summation, sometimes we just disagreed and there are many empirical questions to be answered. Mostly though, I think you made spurious and specious arguments mainly based on invalid inferences. I realize that I was very picky (even though I accused you of it), but I think it is warranted.
I still don’t know why you felt so strongly about so many supposed misstatements – which, in my most charitable lens, I could see something thinking were covertly incorrect. True, just because someone cares and has good intentions does not mean their behaviour is good/useful. If I come across new information that invalidates my arguments, I will change my stances accordingly.

As your friend, I think I should be honest and say that you made many cognitive missteps in your commentary and come across as uncaring, pedantic and irrational. Though you are welcome to respond to my post, it is unlikely I will subsequently respond to that potential new post.

12:16 PM

3 Comments:

Anonymous Evrim said...

Human rights have become fashinoable concept,so it has been used for different slogans . As a result of it we can observe many assumed human rights. However, it is totally absurd because Human Rights documents emphasize that all people ,including women and members of any ethnic group have the same basics rights (as you know). The idea of women's rights seems to me a conceptual confusion. it is just like saying that "being a woman is not yet being a human"

5:27 PM  
Anonymous Evrim said...

Evrim said...
"...last time I checked, women are human. Thus if you support women’s rights, you do support human rights." you said

i say,if you support human rights,you also support women's right.
Those statements are a little bit different. Yes right ,women are human,but all human are not women.

Sorry for the same one:)

6:57 PM  
Blogger Xander said...

I am glad I have you to have this discussion with; it helps me to see where my objections really are. It also keeps me intellectually honest and lets me see where I go overboard. I want to start this time by clarifying my position. I as a whole support what Oxfam does. There are a lot of great people in Oxfam who probably do more worthwhile work in a day than I will do in my lifetime. I am not out to criticize the whole organization or everyone who works for it. All the good work that Oxfam however does not give Mr. Fox license to say whatever he wants. I found the implication of his rhetoric at times wildly inaccurate and offensive. I felt his intent was to inspire fear and guilt in Canadians to the point of being extortive.
Mr. Fox’s ultimate aims are ambitious and good but for that matter so are most of George W. Bush’s aims. I am invoking Bush intentionally as an example of what can happen when you allow anyone to stand above criticism. Even someone like the director of Oxfam Canada needs to be scrutinized. My point is someone should tap Mr. Fox on the shoulder and say, rein it in a bit sir.
I stand by my statement that he equivocates way too much. When he says things like “the closure of most offices sends a chill down the spines of women around the globe who are committed to ending discrimination” or offers the opinion of women in Zimbabwe on the plight of women in aboriginal communities he is quite clearly equivocating social issues in Canada with the deplorable condition in worst areas in the world. I really don’t understand how you can miss that. I can’t imagine an aid worker(committed to ending discrimination) in Darfur splattered with the blood of women who have been raped and murdered en masse pausing for a moment to shudder when she hears about budget cuts in Canada to the status of woman department, can you? Yet this is the scope of the rhetoric Mr. Fox chooses to use.
I have no problem with anyone in Oxfam having a nice conversation with a person they are helping that included Canadian politics. But when Mr. Fox sits down with an Ethiopian woman, who asks him about the situation of woman in Canada, to which he replies “Aboriginal woman have it pretty rough, there is lots of substance abuse and domestic violence,” he can’t report the shock and dismay of that Ethiopian woman as important. He as the authority on the issue to her gave her bad news and she was disappointed. Then he reports her disappointment to us. It’s absurd. The implication is that the situation in aboriginal communities is so bad even women in Ethiopia are concerned but any concerns they have are based on hearsay. I see it as a disingenuous rhetorical tactic or sloppy thinking depending on how carefully he considers his own words.
Alright now about climate change, maybe I have over estimated general understanding of climate change and I should address this more generally than pick on Mr. Fox. Climate change has nothing directly to do with wells drying up or women having to walk farther for firewood. Even Al Gore wouldn’t suggest that they do. These sorts of problem are not caused by greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. These two problems generally have more mundane causes, probably the same cause when they occur together: deforestation. Climate change is a serious problem it could lead to coastal flooding and collapse ecosystems already under stress but it does not cause woman to walk farther for firewood. When Mr. Fox says it does he is spreading a myth. Why am I so hard on him for this? Because it directly impacts how Oxfam spends funds and implements policies. When Mr. Fox tells women that the wells dry up and there is no more firewood because of greenhouse gas emissions from the developed world, he is doing them a disservice. He is causing them to despair about problems they are causing for themselves. Oxfam could take steps through educational programs and environmental impact assessments to reduce the deforestation and keep the water in the wells and the sources of firewood nearby but they are not going to do this if they falsely blame this common problem on climate change. Here again, my charitable interpretation must be that Mr. Fox is ignorant of science behind key issues relevant to Oxfam.
The final clarification I want to make is that statistics can be misleading. I was suggesting that there are rational reasons to believe that as long as there is violence more of those we consider victims of violence will be women rather than men. Just as long as there is heart disease there are rational reasons to believe your risk will go up as you get older. But we don’t say Canadian record with care for the elderly is spotty at best because elderly people are still more at risk at developing heart disease than young people. We are making progress at eliminating heart disease just as we are making progress at eliminating violence and poverty. To use statistics deceptively to show otherwise is wrong. Again I have to accuse Mr. Fox of using language in a disingenuous way or being ignorant.
I can understand that you want to give Mr. Fox a lot of leeway because of the organization he represents. Indeed, I am sure his position is why he was invited to write the editorial for the Star. I am also aware that it was intended to be a fluff piece not a mission statement and that there is a chance that Mr. Fox didn’t write it himself and just signed off on it having more important business to attend to. But I was still incensed by sloppiness of it. Here is a man in a position to do a lot of good squandering his podium meandering through platitudes.

11:56 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home