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CONNECT THE WORLD
Marking International Women's Day in the Year of #metoo; Chang, Choice and Challenges of Women Today; Tough Challenges for Women in World's Poorest Places. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired March 8, 2018 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:00] BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: Live from Dubai for a very special CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm here at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature
with a packed show for you tonight. Marking International Women's Day in the year of #metoo. We are talking change, challenges and above all choice
this hour. All in partnership with CNN's #AsEquals digital project. I'm Becky Anderson, and let's get the conversation started.
This was the scene just over one year ago, a massive women's march in the heart of the capital of the most powerful country in the world, the city of
Washington ringing with a call for change. These protests after Donald Trump's inauguration were one of the first signs that women had a new
appetite for activism. And so many causes to choose from, from the swell of voices against sexual harassment to the abuse with the #metoo movement
which swept several Hollywood icons from their pedestals. To the demands for transparent and equal pay that hit some of the world's most renowned
organizations. To a surge in activism around the world, it's been a momentous year. And of course, women in the developing world face an even
fiercer fight than their western sisters for basic rights. A fight that our digital project #AsEquals highlights every day with incredibly
I have a fantastic panel of women just waiting to add their voices to all of this. My guests tonight include Hatoon Ajwad al-Fassi, an associate
professor of women's history at King Saudi University in Saudi Arabia. She is a campaigner for women's rights in the kingdom.
[10:05:00] While these women had more rights in the pre-Islamic period, that is 1500 years ago been now. She was part of the Saudi suffragette's
movement around the municipal elections three years ago which saw women vote for the first time in the kingdom.
Dame Jenni Murray is a veteran British journalist and author and host of the BBC's iconic radio show, "Women's Hour." For more than three decades
she was one of a number of prominent female presenters who signed an open letter to BBC leadership demanding they fix pay equality at the broadcast.
She describes herself as a feminist and recently sparked a bit of backlash by saying transgender women were not "real women" to be discussed.
And Cheryl Strayed is an American author who counts Oprah Winfrey among her friends. Age 26 after a series of personal losses, she hiked solo on a
1,500 kilometer in the American West with no phone and very little money. Her best-selling book about starting over was later made into a Hollywood
film. She supported Hillary Clinton in the U.S. election and says she was devastated by the results. More on that in a moment.
Welcome to all of you. I'm delighted you're with me here in Dubai. It's been an extraordinary 12 months, and we have just 60 minutes to cover it
all. So, let's just start with this. A new day is on the horizon. Cheryl, your friend Oprah Winfrey spoke those words two months ago at the
Golden Globes ceremony. Is this a new day?
CHERYL STRAYED, BEST-SELLING AUTHOR OF "WILD": I think so. Those words were so galvanizing I think to women in the United States and really around
the world. And I think that what Oprah captured so beautifully in her speech was really not just that women are I think that our voices are being
heard more than ever. But actually, those voices are being listened to. You know, for the first-time women are being believed when they report
sexual harassment or have been victims or survivors of sexual violence. And I think that that's never really happened before. This is not
something new these reports of the misdeeds of men in power. But I think that we've never had the kinds of conversations at the levels that they've
been had over this last year. And part of it is that women's march. I was there. There was such a feeling of momentum in the face of Trump
ANDERSON: Including you, Hatoon? You lead a Saudi suffragette movement in 2015. You've been part of a mobilization force in Saudi for some time.
You called that vote back in 2015 a new day for Saudi women. Is it?
You need to put it in context with that date in context, because we started actually in 2004 when having men or when win elections for municipal
councils were introduced in Saudi Arabia took place. It was then when we started actually the mobilization and asking for women participation. So,
having that successful by 2015 was that -- it was like as if the results of all those 10 years of work and demand and struggle. And yes, I called it a
new day for Saudi women because it was the beginning of us feeling -- starting the feeling of being a citizen. Being seen as a kind of a full
ANDERSON: And we're going to talk a lot more about where Saudi women are today and where they may be going in the future. Not least with the
decision by the leadership for women to drive, which I know is being an important one. Many people would say about time too. But it is an
important one for the country.
Jenni, you been in the business of women's issues now presenting your iconic show "Women's Hour" for three decades. You've probably forgotten
more about equality and empowerment issues than most of us will ever know. Are you optimistic about what we've seen in the past year? Where do we go
JENNI MURRAY, PRESENTER, BBC'S "WOMEN'S HOUR": We have to be optimistic. You know, I remember the day when I started. When women used to say, oh,
no, I'm not a feminist, but? And you'd say, what comes after the but. Does your husband never look after the children? He never changed a nappy.
Has he ever cooked anything or shopped? And they go, oh, yes.
[10:10:00] And you say, in that case you are feminist if you think that is wrong. And what I'm finding now is that young women are proud to call
themselves feminists. And what's much more important on the back of the me-too campaign and all that, is that young men are coming with us.
Because we cannot do this without men with us. They have to say, equal pay, of course. Of course, it should be equal pay. Sharing the housework,
of course, we should be sharing the housework. It's so obvious.
ANDERSON: And I totally get it. We haven't got any men on this show tonight. And I didn't do that on purpose necessarily. But I just thought
there were six fantastic women that we wanted to interview, three of them are sitting with me here. Let's talk about equal pay, because that
conversation got very loud, Jenni, particularly at your employer. But as we know this is a global issue. Your colleague Carrie Gracie underlined
that when she spoke of the huge support she received when she received when she resigned as one of the BBC's foreign editors over the issue. Let's
just have a listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARRIE GRACIE, FORMER BBC CHINA EDITOR: The support that I've had in the last few hours over this, I think it does speak to the depth of hunger for
an equal fair and transparent pay system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Jenni, she called this a hunger for change. Is that how you would describe this moment?
MURRAY: Yes, I think I probably would. But you see the important thing about equal pay is we've had legislation in the U.K. since 1975. And in
1983 the European Union we got the legislation there, equal pay for work of equal value, which was really important. But how do you know that you're
not getting the same pay? I'm sure other countries have the same thing that nobody talks about how much they actually earn. Oh, that's too
shameful to say what you really earn. But what now is happening in the U.K. is pay audit. Where companies that have more than 30 employees have
to audit their pay. And so, we find out how much more the men are being paid than the women and we have something to work off.
ANDERSON: So, there has been some progress in the pay gap is actually narrowing. The global gender gap though -- and this is something that
we've talked about on our #AsEquals -- is actually widening. There was one leading report which suggested it will take 200 years to close that gap,
which is something I think we can talk about a little later in the show. I'm just going to take a very short break, hold on Jenni, they want me to
take a very short break. I knew this would happen. To all of you, stand by. Speaking of momentous moments in these last 12 months there have been
a number here in the Gulf.
ANDERSON: How do you feel?
UNIDENTIFIED SAUDI FEMALE: I have not slept from excitement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: I will ask my guess why this matters in just a couple of moments. But first in a year of tone deaf comments, raised voices and
occasional shouting matches, we have some sweeter sounds for you this hour at the Intercontinental Festival here in Dubai. Where live in the Emirates
Airline Festival of Literature this international Women's Day. Teaming up with our digital colleagues and #AsEquals project. A lot more coming up
[10:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ANDERSON: Welcome back to CONNECT THE WORLD. A special show for you marking International Women's Day in the year of #metoo. We are alive for
you from Dubai this hour here at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. And we have a fabulous lineup of guests that I will get back
to in just a moment. First though, speaking of tectonic shifts when it comes to women's rights. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is set to reverse
decades of policy by allowing female drivers this summer. Take a look at just what a long road it has been to get to this point.
ANDERSON (voice-over): A long fight, and now a victory for change. The choice. Saudi Arabia is the only place on the planet where women cannot
drive a car. In June though that will be history as women are set to hit the highway. The road to get here has been paved with decades of protests
and petitions. In 1990, 47 women took to the streets, forbidden from riding around Riyadh, and were soon arrested.
MANA AL-SHARIF, SAUDI ARABIAN ACTIVIST FOR WOMEN'S RIGHTS: I love driving. I wish I could drive in our country, not currently.
ANDERSON: Her wish was not realized. The struggle went on. Women, thousands of them flouted the authorities.
AL-SHARIF: The crime, driving while female.
ANDERSON: Fast forward to two 2011 and prominent activist and author, Manal al-Sharif, was jailed for nine days after she posted this clip of her
in the driver seat on YouTube.
AL-SHARIF: It's a symbolic act of the women rise, we want to be full citizens. I'm educated, I have a job and I should be able to -- I should
be trusted to drive my own car.
ANDERSON (on camera): And last September that trust was extended. An historic day for millions of women and their families here in Saudi Arabia.
The Royal decree issued by King Salman was celebrated by many in the ultraconservative country.
AL-SHARIF: I can't wait until June.
KHOLOUD ATTAR, SAUDI BUSINESSWOMAN: It feels great, actually, because we have been waiting for this for years.
ANDERSON: How do you feel?
ATTAR: I haven't slept from excitement.
ANDERSON: I've spoken here who say that they appreciate that change is necessary. But they say things are going so quickly. It's too fast. To
which you say what?
ATTAR: Which I agree it is going fast, but I appreciate it. I don't think -- it's like a Band-Aid. I think if you take it slow is going to hurt much
more longer and it will be hard for people to adopt. I think the faster they realize that there is a realization that it is necessary to move fast
really helps the development. Because the whole world is going fast and the people who don't take these fast steps are really left behind.
ANDERSON (voice-over): Something this man doesn't want to happen in his country. Saudi Arabia's young ambitious Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman
is credited with driving this forward. All part of the road ahead for Saudi Arabia. A multifaceted vision to bring the kingdom up to speed by
2013. And with this change, women will no longer be passengers simply along for the ride. Becky Anderson, CNN Abu Dhabi.
ANDERSON: I'm here with our panel of guests. Professor of women's history at King Saud University in Saudi Arabia with us tonight Hatoon Ajwad al-
Fassi, who is also a campaigner on the issue. The British journalists, Dame Jenni Murray, is a three-decade veteran of the BBC's iconic "Women's
Hour." And Cheryl Strayed is a best-selling author whose solo tracking's by millions including Oprah.
If we have learned anything in the past year it is that progress doesn't come of its own accord. It requires collective action and solidarity of
women's rights, defenders, Hatoon, like you. And it requires political will and legislation.
[10:20:00] In Saudi progress for women is as much about economics as it is it seems about rights under the umbrella of this vision 2030. So, just
talk to me about just how much progress you think has been made? What needs to be done in the future? And why it is that other parts of this
region have not seen that sort of similar political will and legislation that you've got in Saudi and for example here in the UAE for women?
AL-FASSI: We need to put things in perspective. Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the region. Larger population than the rest of the UAE
countries. But also, we have more educated. You can say women as well. And there may be a harsher situation in the past three, four decades. As
you said, women who were not silent and women wear struggles and demands were on all the time. But it needed as we know also, that it needed a
political will. The political will luckily came at our lifetime. It came this year. And we are really grateful. I'm grateful that it's happening
at my lifetime when my daughter is growing and she's going to grow up finding that she can drive her own car.
ANDERSON: Hatoon, here in the UAE, nearly 30 percent of the UAE cabinet is female. Women make up two thirds of the public-sector workforce and nearly
50 percent of women make up that in the private sector. Look around the region and Yemen has been deemed in many rankings as the worst place in the
world to live as a woman. Do you see the potential even for progress in their wider region?
AL-FASSI: Yes, I do. I think Saudi Arabia is the leader of the region. And I believe for a long time if our situation, it of women's status in
Saudi Arabia has improved a lot can be improved in the region. A lot of women in the region are talking about the leader of the Muslim world where
many countries, all the Muslim world is finding -- considering it as its role model. So, the impact of Saudi Arabia and how it treats women affects
definitely all the work. And today, I think we are living at a time when finally, this effect will be positive. And with the help of women, because
women where we're working on this for a long time.
ANDERSON: And the momentum --sorry -- for the #metoo has certainly had -- and Times Up and various other things -- has certainly had an impact on
this region. I know just by talking -- let me put this to Jenni. We talked about this just before the break. The pay gap is actually lessening
around the world. But the global gender Across the board is actually widening. This is not a time, Jenni, is that for complacency?
MURRAY: Not at all. And I think what we have to start to understand is unconscious by it for one thing where people who are interviewing for a job
will look at an application and they, oh, that's a man. Yes, he must really want this job. Oh, that's a woman. Actually, no, she should really
be home with their family. That still exists. And I think that exists across the world. But what really concerns me is that we don't pay enough
attention, as you clearly do, to the girls in northern Nigeria. You know, who are taken away because they are being educated. Just stolen from their
families. And governments are not doing enough to protect those young girls and assume that they have the right to an education that we all
assume we have the right to in the Western world.
ANDERSON: Cheryl, you've said that when you think how different things would have been in the States if Hillary Clinton were President, a little
something dies in you. But you say the silver lining -- I put this quote part up. Is that a lot of people have connected to other who are like-
minded. Are you saying the irony of a Donald Trump presidency -- excuse me -- is that the awakening wouldn't have happened under a female U.S.
STRAYED: I think so. Obviously, the feminist movement has a long history and it would still exist if Hillary Clinton were the president of the
United States. But there was really I think, a very galvanizing force, not just in the U.S., but maybe even around the globe when we saw this man who
has bragged about sexually molesting women, was elected the president.
[10:25:00] And I know so many women in the United States really were awakened. Women who were feminists but weren't announcing it. Some people
who didn't have that feminist consciousness, it really brought his -- the way he talks about women brought that to the fore. And I do think that
that's the silver lining. I think that there is a long history of the women's movement that we can draw upon, but certainly, there's so much work
to do going forward. And he has reminded us of that.
ANDERSON: So much more to do going forward. To Jenni, briefly, closing thoughts as we move out of this part of the show.
MURRAY: Oh, an awful lot to do. Yes, but as I said earlier, there is a real awareness. You know, I do not like a lot of things on social media.
You know, people can be really horrible to each other on social media. But they can also get informed. And I think the growth of the feminist
movement as a result of social media amongst young women who have no shame at calling themselves feminists and getting involved in campaigns.
AL-FASSI: I think that as equals, me-too, all of the movements happening in the West are definitely affecting women across the board. Maybe not at
the same -- on the same scale. At the same scale, but it is getting there little by little. We still have really a long way to go. However, we are
very positive, because we are really living in a different time when for the first time we are thinking positively and were getting some positive
results of all our struggle in the back. We're starting to have many of the taboos that's put it this way, have been really crossed and fallen
apart, sports, music, entertainment and some lives.
ANDERSON: Change is afoot.
AL-FASSI: Change is coming. However, of course, we know that there is a long list as well of the demands that are still hanging. Guardianship for
example is a big issue that social media is working on with new women who are finding themselves into feminist discourse. Maybe Islamic feminism,
may be something different.
ANDERSON: Well, thank you for that great thought to close out and take another break. A fascinating discussion will continue, I am sure over the
next year. On this show, a for now we are going to leave it to there. I'm afraid for this part of the show at least. Chery Strayed, Dame Jenni
Murray, Hatoon Ajwad al-Fassi, thank you.
STRAYED: Thank you.
ANDERSON: And of course, we wouldn't bring you this jampacked show without our partnership with CNN's #AsEquals project. A 12-month digital series
bringing you the voices and views of women in the developing world. Including what is a shocking story of women in the African country of
Lesotho, who say they are finding their abortions on Facebook. You can join the conversation on social media using #AsEquals and check out what is
fascinating content online. You're watching connect the world and we are live from the Intercontinental Festival sitting here in Dubai at the
Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. With a packed hour on what is this International Women's Day. Teaming up with our digital colleagues.
Lots more coming up after this short break, don't go away.
[10:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ANDERSON: A very warm welcome back to Dubai and the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature for what is a very special CONNECT THE WORLD on this
International Women's Day. It is an especially symbolic one this year as women around the world are reacting to movements like #metoo and times up,
and making their voices heard and issues from are equal pay, harassment and the chance to choose their own path in life.
And CNN is going to be tackling these things over the next 12 months in our #AsEquals project. A year-long digital series, looking at the challenges
faced by women in the world's least developed countries. Incredibly rich and important content online there. Please go read and watch. And of
course, let us know what you think of the project when you read or watch those reports.
The thing that is so striking is the link between women's opportunities or lack of them, and the lack of economic options. In one of the poorest Arab
countries the decision to marry off your child is dictated as much by poverty as tradition. Take a look at the brutal reality of Yemen's war for
HALIMA, YEMENI SCHOOLGIRL (through translator): My name is Halima. My father married off my sister and wants to marry me off by force. I'm in
fifth grade. I want to finish school. I want to become a doctor, God willing. I don't want to get married.
[10:35:00] ABDULLAH, HALIMA'S FATHER: Choosing between a daughter and her dowry.
ANDERSON: Halima is only 12 years old and is already worried her father will soon marry her off. He says he has no choice. Blaming Yemen's
crippling civil war. A dowry for Halima would be a lifeline for a family in desperate need. But Halima is determined not to suffer the same fate as
her sister, Kafa. She became a child bride at just 13.
KAFA, YEMENI CHILD BRIDE (through translator): If I had the choice, I would have gone to school and been educated. I didn't want to get married.
I wanted to learn at school, but I was forced to get married. I was so young.
ANDERSON: Kafa, now 17, has four daughters of her own. She wants to give her girls a childhood she was denied.
KAFA: My dream for my daughters is that they grow old and finish their school. Maybe if they want to work or get married. It's up to them. They
can do what they want.
ANDERSON: Child marriage is legal in Yemen where there is no minimum age requirement to marry. A number of girls married off before they turn 18
has risen from have to more than two thirds since the conflict escalated. Kafa's father, Abdullah, received a dowry of $2,000 for her marriage. He
says he needed the money because he has 17 mouths to feed.
ABDULLAH, KAFA AND HALIMA'S FATHER: I want you to forgive me that I marry you at such a young age. I needed money to support our family. I married
you so that your sister and mother can live.
ANDERSON: This remorse will not stop him from marrying Halima off.
ABDULLAH: There is a war and rockets are flying over our heads, homes are collapsing. Our home shakes every time there is an airstrike. So, what
can I do? I have no option, but to marry my daughter's early.
ANDERSON: This is not a choice any parent would want to face, a daughter sold to into marriage or a family that starves. For now, Halima is still
going to school. But some of her peers have stopped.
HALIMA: many of my friends in school have been married off. One of my friends dropped out. When I asked her why, she said, because today is my
ANDERSON: Well, 13-year-old Halima there, hoping against hope she doesn't become one more statistic and that country's war. Our theme this hour is
choice. And here to discuss the issue and a lot more, are three women who great insight into the serious fight women in some of the world's poorest
places and beyond face for basic rights.
Veteran British journalist, Kate Adie, spent three decades reporting from conflict zones as the BBC's chief news correspondent. Including Tiananmen
Square, Rwanda, Libya, Bosnia, she now presents from our own correspondent on BBC Radio 4. In a very good show that is. And she is the author of a
book on in war entitled, "Corsets to Camouflage," are some of the book that she's written.
Afghan-American pediatric doctor and aspiring U.S. lawmaker, Nadia Hashimi, is with us tonight. Born in the United States to Afghan immigrant parents.
She is running for office as a Democrat in Maryland in the congressional elections this year. She is also a novelist whose books reflect the lives
of Afghan women struggling in their male dominated society.
And German-Moroccan, "Washington Post" journalist, Souad Mekhennet, has written extensively about how people become radicalized. She has
interviewed hundreds of ISIS fighters and families. Her book, "I Was Told to Come Alone: My Journey behind the Lines of Jihad" chronicles her work
in the Middle East and North Africa. And she says she narrowly escaped being radicalized herself while growing up in Germany and Morocco.
Souad, it sounds as if your work and to a certain extent your upbringing was in a man's world, as it were. What choice did you have? And what
choice to those women that you have met during your work on radicalization and terrorism have?
SOUAD MEKHENNET, CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON POST: You know, Becky, actually, I also lived in Morocco for 3 1/2 years. And I saw my
grandmother -- I lived with my grandmother -- and I saw that she actually took decisions. She decided to leave her first husband. She got married
again. Decided to leave the second husband. She brought up, you know, six kids on her own. And when I lived with her she was, you know, my
grandmother, divorce from my grandfather.
[10:40:00] And this was the first female role model I had. And she taught me that -- she was a descendent of the prophet. She taught me that women
in Islam have a choice. And they don't have to be weak.
So, with that mindset, you know, I returned to Germany where he did all my schooling and at some stage decided I wanted to become a journalist. And
ended up covering war zones. I've been to Iraq. I started covering the jihadist movement after 9/11. And when I realized when I spoke to women
who for example, also decided to join radicalized movements, Al Qaeda, ISIS, or even, you know, wives of Taliban commanders, is that they told me
it was their choice.
And it's a little bit difficult for some people in Western countries to understand this. They would not understand why a woman would choose to
wear a hajib, you know, cover her face. But I even came across many women who grew up in Germany or in the Netherlands or in the U.K. and who just
ANDERSON: What do we take out of that?
MEKHENNET: It's because, you know, I asked them. Why would you decide to give up what we called the freedom you have in the West and join this
movement? And they said, because we don't want people to tell us how we should dress or what to wear. And they said it is my choice. In fact, I
had the, you know, the impression that it was their way of protesting. And then also something else I realized when I went into the families of the
jihadist leaders. You know, for example, I was once trying to interview a close wife of Ayman al-Zawahiri. He first refused to give me the
interview. But then his mother came into the room and I kind of like convinced her to convince him. And in fact, she had the power to tell him,
give her the interview.
And so, women do have a choice also within those movements. However, when it comes to their daughters -- and that's the interesting thing I asked
them. Will you give your daughter the right to choose whether she wants to live like you?
ANDERSON: The answer was?
MEKHENNET: The answer was, well, not really. Right? And I told her, well, you had a choice, but you don't give you daughter the choice.
ANDERSON: That's fascinating.
And Nadia, you, I know attended the Women's March in D.C. last year, and indeed this year. But it was last year after that, that you say that you
decided to run for Congress. You say women need equality and parity without disclaimer. You say, enough is enough. And just alluding to how
we started this part of the show and reporting on the need for choice for Yemen's young kids, these child brides. Let's remind our viewers that
there are some 250,000, certainly 250,000 young children in the U.S. between the years of 2000 and 2010 who were married off. Is that who you
are looking to provide some choice and change for?
NADIA HASHIMI, U.S. CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Absolutely. I mean, as a pediatrician, as mother, I'm someone who's been looking at the issues that
affect the girls and women around the world, and then having the conversations back in the United States. To understand that while we want
to condemn patriarchy and condemn what happens to young girls around the world, we have these things happening in my own backyard. In combination
with human trafficking and the impact of religious -- the tenor of the religious talk in the United States. This is a movement we have to tackle
at home before we can look anywhere else in the world.
ANDERSON: Kate, you will have gotten more about war zones than most of us, thankfully, will ever know. You are a witness to continuing turmoil, as we
all are, in parts of this region, in Yemen and in Syria to name but two. I am reminded that you wrote that it's often in women's stories that you get
a better idea of what is going on after seven years of Civil War in Syria. I want our viewers just to see this video, 2,000 women from dozens of
countries in a conscience convoy in an effort to raise awareness for the plight of Syrian women. It's ofttimes women in places like Eastern Ghouta
who are stepping up and doing the political organizing. You've witnessed that haven't you?
KATE ADIE, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: I think that a lot of people think that war is men's world, and that women have nothing to do with it. Women are
in the business of and the grimness of war as much as men are. They are the ones who suffer. They are the ones who see their houses burnt down,
their children bombed. It's no longer men trotting off to a battlefield to have two armies engaged. It is war amongst the people. You get your whole
family at risk around you.
[10:45:00] And the way that you are not engaged is that you, in so many countries have no choice as whether you go to war. You are not part of the
process in deciding that war should happen. So, women in every way get the worst of it.
ANDERSON: You've got a bigger perspective than most on this, because of your incredible career. It is clear by now that promoting women's rights
particularly in a region like this where we are at present can never just be about equality. Can it? For the sake of it has to be as well about
economics and security issues, surely. Does it?
ADIE: It's all of those things. But the basis to it is the law. If you have the law on your side. If you can get the law changed, which in so
many countries discriminate against women. Sees them as second-class. And even in some places still as possessions. You can then with the law on
your side, you can start making changes in all of those areas. You can be in the office and business and say, hey, I have as much right to this
decision as you have, and suchlike. So, the law is first and on top of that education. The more women gain confidence, now how the world works,
then they can make progress. But you have to have those two things.
ANDERSON: Political will, education, the law just very briefly, Nadia. You've written extensively on the women in Afghanistan. You say you don't
hold out much hope for change and choice there going forward. Why?
HASHIMI: No, I think that there is actually been a lot of change and choice. The women in Afghanistan have demonstrated over the past decades
that they are perseverant. They were not going to let go of the rights that they've been able to reclaim in the post-Taliban era. I think the
only thing that stands in their way is the lack of security. The laws are there. As important as they are, the laws are there. But on top of that
the culture has to change. We have to reach a time where the culture is that it enforces those laws that are present and can actually protect the
ANDERSON: Please, don't go anywhere. We will take a short break, and this is absolutely fascinating. CONNECT THE WORLD continues, we are live from
Intercontinental Festival city here in Dubai at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature where these ladies are all panelists. There still a
lot more to discuss coming up. Including the biggest obstacles facing women in power. That after this.
[10:50:00] ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson, welcome back. We are at the Intercontinental Festival city here in Dubai. Change, challenges and
choice. We've been covering it all for you this hour marking International Women's Day in the era of #metoo and a surge in activism, of course.
Chanting, dancing and demanding equality, women around Spain are on strike today.
Not only are many of those women skipping work, they are also not spending money and ditching their domestic chores for the day. The strike
disrupting transport, more than 300 trains have been canceled today throughout Spain.
An all-star female panel breaking down our discussion with me tonight. Veteran British journalist, Katie Adie. Afghan American Doctor and would-
be U.S. Congressman, Nadia Hashimi. And German-Moroccan investigative reporter, Souad Mekhennet. Much has been made of misogyny in today's
politics. Has been impeding the progress of women. One of our earlier guests, Nadia, Cheryl Strayed, said, and I quote, we are very comfortable
belittling women, even evolved feminists do it. It's embedded, she said, in our language, our psyches. We witnessed Donald Trump's behavior towards
Hillary Clinton. Are you standing for Congress because you believe that you can change that psyche, both in men and in some women?
HASHIMI: Absolutely. I think that if you don't believe that you can change something, you won't get out of bed in the morning. It's by being
visible, by being vocal, by filling those roles that people don't expect women to fill that we start to change the expectations that are placed on
ANDERSON: Do you have to be a feminist to want to change, Kate? Angela Merkel, doesn't see herself as a feminist.
ADIE: Depends on how you define it. It's a very contentious phrase. I think you say, do you want to be fair? And do you want to see people have
equal human rights? And if you see it that way then automatically you say, yes, if that's what feminists want and is, then you are a feminist. And
you have to recognize that misogyny has been around for an awful long time. Even looking back 100 years at the suffragettes when they were in Britain
trying for the vote. The thing that belittled them was men saying, well of course, women have got smaller brains and they might actually go mad if
they have to take decisions of a serious nature. That kind of attitude was well embedded. Well, we have moved forward I think a bit from that. It
takes time. You're faced with tradition. You're faced with culture, entrenched views, and in some areas just plain selfishness.
ANDERSON: Kate Adie for you, well put. Souad, you have in the past been criticized for having a superficial image of women, of what is a liberated
Arab woman. Let me put it that way, and you know what I'm talking about. Because what women look like, what women should wear, should that be surely
not a woman's choice wherever they are in the world?
MEKHENNET: Well, first of all, I have, you know, I grew up in the West, and I cannot tell you how often I heard from the classmates and people when
I went to the university, so, when are you finally are getting married? Right. Because there is a kind of the prejudice that we have. The only
thing was when I started working in the field in conflict zones and war zones or I started covering so-called jihadist movements, I had male
colleagues, western male colleagues coming to me in Germany and saying, or maybe just forget about it, because those guys are not going to talk to
you, you're a girl. And then we also, Becky, have to be a bit careful when we talk about the region here, right. It's so different. Women in Saudi
Arabia have a different situation from women in Bahrain or in the UAE or in Morocco. So, we have to -- you have to be a little bit careful how we
frame the situation.
But let me get back, that you mentioned, Angela Merkel. She's, you know the Chancellor of Germany. I grew up there. I'm a German citizen.
However, if I look at pay gap, between genders in Germany it's ridiculous. We are about -- there is that gap of about 25 percent. Or even in our
profession, in journalism, I had several conversations with bosses, not in the U.S. but in Germany before, where male colleagues made more money than,
you know, we did. And I asked one of the bosses why is that? This male colleague goes to the war zone. If he gets hit by a bullet or I get hit by
a bullet, we will both bleed, or do you think that I will suffer less than him. And so, we still have an issue of justice here as well. Not only in
the Middle East but also in Western countries.
[10:55:00] ANDERSON: Well, Kate, given that we've just been discussing their salaries, the gender pay inequality and more correspondence, the
final thought is yours, tonight. Optimistic going forward given what we've just been through? It certainly feels like a new era on this International
ADIE: Optimistic -- the world, half of the world are women, therefore, could we have a half of everything that is going if not more? And I am
optimistic, because it does take time. We have a lot of barriers to push down. If you are thinking of the problems of the world, of food, of water,
and of pollution, which bedevil us probably in the future. They are complex problems to solve. When it comes to equality for women, all we
have to do is to change attitudes.
ANDERSON: Thank you. Kate Adie and Nadia and Suoad, thank you so much all of you for being with us. That's it for this show. All this hour, we have
heard amazing tales the of activism, of the positive steps that are being taken. And also, the long list of challenges that remain. But when we
talk about issues of gender pay gaps, and equality in society, equal access to rights, it isn't just to mark one day in the calendar as women's day.
It is because, as we've heard, these issues impact every aspect of our society, men, women and children. Women's issues are global issues. And
addressing them means, we are all taking one step closer to making the world a better home for all of us.
That was CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson from Dubai for you at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Thank you for watching and
from all of the team here, and for those spread across the world working with us, a very happy International Women's Day.