A push to tackle issues of global gender inequality

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Marco Werman: One of the strongest arguments in Beijing 20 years ago was that raising the status of women is important not just for women, it changes a lot of what holds whole communities back. All this year on The World, we’re taking a closer look at what it really means when change like this happens and what more needs to be done. We’re calling the series Across Women’s Lives. Joining me now is our senior editor, Julia Barton, who’s heading up this project. Julia, what stands out for you in what the UN under-secretary-general just said?


Julia Barton: Well, the thing that she said was that change is not easy and it just doesn’t happen, people actually have to give up privilege and power in order to do that, and that’s tough.


Werman: Men specifically.


Barton: Specifically men. But also she mentioned that of all the things that she could make progress on, reproductive rights and education are key, and that was very interesting to me because that’s where we’re going first in our series.


Werman: With the series Across Women’s Lives, tell us what’s in store. What kind of stories will we hear?


Barton: Next week we’re going to delve into the real crux of it, which is body politics--making babies, having babies, who gets to make decisions about birth control, about family size. Our stories are going to take us to the Philippines, it’s going to take us to Malawi, and we’re also going to turn our attention back to the United States, because a lot of the arguments that we have here are not that different from other parts of the world.


Werman: As you’ve gone over the stories that are coming in, what strikes you? Any common threads?


Barton: It’s hearing the voices of men actually, in all kinds of different languages, who are really sincerely engaged in these issues that are affecting their wives, their daughters, their larger communities. They care also, and that’s really heartening to hear.


Werman: Julia Barton there. She’s the senior editor heading up our project Across Women’s Lives.