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Interview With Bumble Founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd; Should World Help Uyghurs?. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired March 09, 2021 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): A damning new report finds that China bears responsibility for genocide against the Uyghurs. So, how will the world
respond? I will talk to one of the authors and former U.S. war crimes envoy David Scheffer, plus Uyghur activist Jewher Ilham.
WHITNEY WOLFE HERD, FOUNDER AND CEO, BUMBLE: Identify the things that break you down, identify the things that cause you pain, and find
opportunity in that.
AMANPOUR: For women by women. Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd tells me about sex, love and COVID and becoming a rare female billionaire.
SUKHI SAMRA, DIRECTOR, SEED: With the $500, we saw that people just had so much more agency and choice.
AMANPOUR: An experiment in universal basic income gives people $500 a month, no strings attached. Hari Sreenivasan breaks down their findings
with director Sukhi Samra and researcher Amy Castro Baker.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Does the world now have a duty to intervene? That is the big question, after a blistering new report says that China bears responsibility for
genocide against the Uyghurs? Dozens of global independent experts in human rights, war crimes and international law are behind this landmark report on
the Muslim minority group there.
The first-of-its-kind analysis found that Beijing violated every single provision of the U.N.'s Genocide Convention. As many as two million people
have been forcibly detained, facing atrocities, including sexual assault, forced sterilization, torture and death.
The report's conclusion? China's policies amount to -- quote -- "an intent to destroy the Uyghurs as a group, in whole or in substantial part."
Beijing strongly denies the claims of human rights abuses, calling them the lie of the century.
In a moment, we will speak to one of the report's contributors.
But, first, correspondent Ivan Watson talked with Uyghur women who were released finally and fled China after suffering horrific abuse in
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The traumatized survivor of a nine-month nightmare. Tursunay Ziyawudun, a
refugee from China's Xinjiang region, describes the torture and rape she says she endured during detention in a Chinese internment camp.
(on camera): How is your health today after your experience in the camps?
TURSUNAY ZIYAWUDUN, FORMER XINJIANG CAMP DETAINEE (through translator): I was in a lot of pain and suffered bleeding. After I arrived in the U.S., I
had to undergo surgery and my uterus was removed. I have suffered a lot of damage.
WATSON (voice-over): Tursunay is an ethnic Uyghur. In March 2018, she says police in Xinjiang detained her at a so-called vocational training center
ZIYAWUDUN (through translator): Because I lived in Kazakstan for five years, they wanted me to confess to say I was influenced by American
propaganda and foreign organizations.
WATSON: During one interrogation, Tursunay says guards beat and kicked her until she blacked out. In the camp, Tursunay says authorities began
forcibly implanting female detainees with contraceptive IUDs.
After a botched procedure led to bleeding, she says she was taken into a room.
ZIYAWUDUN (through translator): There were three guards. They inserted a stun baton inside me and twisted and shock me with it. I passed out.
WATSON: On a separate occasion, she says guards wearing masks once again took her from her cell.
ZIYAWUDUN (through translator): In the next room, I heard another girl crying and screaming. I saw about five men going into that room. I thought
they were torturing her. Then I was gang-raped. After that I realized what they also did her.
WATSON: Tursunay first revealed these claims in an interview with the BBC. The Chinese Government did not answer out questions about the women named
in this report. But Beijing did vehemently deny any human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
WANG WENBIN, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN (through translator): There has never been such a thing as systematic sexual abuse or
mistreatment against women. China is a country ruled by law.
WATSON: There's strict state censorship in Xinjiang and police followed and harassed CNN journalists when they last visited.
QELBINUR SIDIK, FORMER XINJIANG INTERNMENT CAMP TEACHER (through translator): The women all had their hair shaved off. They wore gray
uniforms with orange vests and printed numbers on them.
WATSON: For 28 years, Qelbinur Sidik worked as an elementary school teacher. In 2017, she says she was ordered to teach Mandarin at an
internment camp holding thousands of women. Speaking from relative safety in the Netherlands, Qelbinur says, on her first day of work in the camp,
she witnessed a disturbing sight.
SIDIK (through translator): Two soldiers were carrying a Uyghur girl out on a stretcher. There was no spark of life on her face. Later, a female
police officer told me the girl died on her way to the hospital due to heavy bleeding.
WATSON: Although Qelbinur did not know the cause of the woman's death, she says, later, that same female police officer told her male guards routinely
gang-raped detainees at the camp. The officer also told her:
SIDIK (through translator): When they drank at night, policemen told each other how they raped and tortured girls.
WATSON: In previous reporting on China's mass internment policy in Xinjiang, CNN heard testimony from Gulbahar Jelilova, a citizen of
Kazakstan who alleges that she endured sexual assault from a guard during prolonged detention in Xinjiang.
CNN can not independently verify the accounts of these women. China has attacked their creditability, calling these women actors playing victims
(on camera): The Chinese government says no women are abused in the camps. What do you say to the Chinese government?
ZIYAWUDUN (through translator): I am a 43-year old woman. Do you think this is something I can be proud of sharing with the whole world? I would
tell them that I'm not afraid of them anymore, because they already killed my soul.
AMANPOUR: Ivan Watson reporting their terrible stories.
And David Scheffer served as the first U.S. ambassador at large for war crimes during the Clinton administration. And he's joining me, along with
Uyghur activist Jewher Ilham, whose own father is serving a life sentence in China.
Welcome to both.
Let me first ask you, David Scheffer, from your perspective, as a former ambassador at large on these issues and having worked on this report, what
is the most significant thing about this report? Does it have enforcement provisions? What do you hope to come of it?
DAVID SCHEFFER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR AT LARGE FOR WAR CRIMES ISSUES: The most significant part of it, Christiane, is that it demonstrates that the
government of China is actually orchestrating acts of genocide against the Uyghurs and Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.
That is a very important finding, because, in other genocides, it's not always literally the government that is always focused on the genocidal
acts. But, here, this is a massive governmental bureaucracy. When you put all the pieces together, that bureaucratic effort demonstrates genocide.
And as far as what the significance of that is that there is a Genocide Convention, and China is a ratified party of its since 1983. And it has the
duty to prevent or punish acts of genocide. It is not doing that. In fact, it is perpetrating genocide. So other nations are going to have to step
forward and respond to that.
AMANPOUR: OK, so, Ambassador Scheffer, tell me one or two of the main pieces of evidence that lead you to be able to conclude that it is the
state and nothing but the state which is responsible for this genocide.
SCHEFFER: Well, as our report demonstrates this, there's actually a significant number of documents, public statements, actions by government
officials at the highest possible level, what they have said, what they have ordered that has been compiled and can demonstrate that intent,
namely, to eliminate the existence of the Uyghur minority group, which is about 11 million people, in China.
Now, eliminate doesn't mean kill them all. That's the classic understanding of genocide. The Genocide Convention is far more sophisticated, in the
sense that its intent is to ensure that a protected group, in this case, an ethnic group, with also religious characteristics, can survive as that
And if you undertake actions such as sexual violence, detentions, forced labor, killing leaders off of the group or imprisoning them for the rest of
their lives, you're sucking the blood out of that group. And you're -- also, the children are being shipped away to other orphanages, state-run
orphanages, and away from their culture and their families.
It's a very systematic -- it's incredibly organized as to, how do you go about eliminating the existence of a protected group like the Uyghurs under
the Genocide Convention, without necessarily killing them all?
Well, the Chinese have figured out how to do it, and they are doing it.
AMANPOUR: Well, one of those who is in China and under a life sentence is one of the intellectual leaders of the Uyghur movement, and that is the
father of our guest, Jewher Ilham.
Jewher, when you read the results and the conclusion of this report, you see that it's public, people are talking about it, it's going to go to
governments. What do you hope this will do?
JEWHER ILHAM, UYGHUR HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: I really do hope more and more governments can recognize this -- what the Chinese government is doing to
that Uyghur people, it's an act of genocide. It is a crime against humanity.
There are world-recognized organizations, human rights groups, and news outlets like BBC and Mumbai's had reported on this and had acknowledged
this as crimes against humanity. But the Chinese government is still denying it.
And I do hope the Chinese government can finally recognize their own mistakes and live and act on this and start changing their behaviors,
release all the innocent people who are currently locked up, including my father and my cousin who is serving in prison right now.
AMANPOUR: Do you have any...
ILHAM: I really hope this report can also press -- can press more, not only the governments, but also brands and corporates around the world, to
put on action and stop being complicit with forced labor and human rights abuses.
AMANPOUR: Have you any contact with your own father? And I think you said your cousin. Have you any contact with them? I think they have been inside
for a good eight years or more.
What do you know about their condition, about their state of being right now?
ILHAM: Due to the fact that I can't go back to China without putting myself at risk, I have not been able to visit my father in prison. And he
was arrested in 2014.
And the day before he was detained was the last time I spoke to him. And since 2017, family visits are no longer allowed. So, nobody from my family
have -- were able to visit him. And we don't know what's his current condition. We don't know if he's even alive.
AMANPOUR: Must be so awful and so worrying for you and so many families who don't know what's happened to their loved ones and can't get to them.
And, certainly, there's no due process.
David Scheffer, what does this report and its blatant statement of laying the blame at the foot of the state, what does it mean for governments like
the United States, which has already called it genocide? What does it mean for other parliaments that are trying to get that resolution through their
What are you calling for? I mean, is it military intervention? Is that even a starter against China?
SCHEFFER: Well, that would be fairly implausible.
But I must say that it is up to largely parliaments in countries around the world to take the initiative on this. The Canadian and the Dutch
parliaments have done so. The British Parliament has been very focused on this issue, in other words, to at least shame the Chinese government with
their own statements or determinations relating to both crimes against humanity and genocide in China, but many other actions can be taken with
respect to how governments interact with China.
There's the trading relationship, which is always extremely sensitive, but I have wondered, why not require -- it might require legislative action,
but why not require that, if the product is coming from the forced labor regions of China, where the Uyghurs are, that there be a labeling on that
product, a warning, this comes from forced labor in China, or this is made in the genocidal nation of China?
I mean, those are simple things to require in order to import the products into your country. Another initiative, particularly in the United States,
there's already on the books the Genocide Accountability Act, so that any Chinese official who is involved in this who enters the United States in
the future could be held criminally responsible under the Genocide Accountability Act.
Congress could take that large initiative and pass the Crimes Against Humanity Act, which we have been trying to do for years. And, therefore,
any Chinese official who meets even the standards for crimes against humanity against the Uyghurs would be subject to criminal liability in the
And there are so many other initiatives that one could relate, whether it's World Bank financing, how we deal with the Olympics in Beijing. There are
there are many things to do to try to convince the Chinese government to change course, to shame them. And that's part of our obligation of
prevention and punishment under the Genocide Convention.
AMANPOUR: I just wonder whether there is any shaming to be done in China? In other words, are they shameable?
You remember that because of Darfur and other such things back in the early 2000s, there were -- they called the Beijing Olympics in 2008 the genocide
Olympics, and there was a big call to boycott, and it just didn't happen. I mean, it was a great big fizzler.
And I'm just wondering what you -- what you really think would actually affect the Chinese government. So far, I have told you the Foreign
Ministry, the government have called this the big lie of the century. Chinese foreign minister yesterday says: "The claim that there is genocide
in Xinjiang couldn't be more preposterous. It is just a rumor fabricated with ulterior motives and a lie through and through."
And he adds that the Uyghur population has more than doubled over the last four decades, that Xinjiang's economy has grown by more than 200 times,
life expectancy there has expanded dramatically. They just deny it and they don't want to hear anything from you or anybody outside.
SCHEFFER: And I don't care that they don't care. In other words, I would say we need to call them out, particularly at the leadership level of
governments, for the big lie, because they do propagate the big lie.
So, first of all, at the diplomatic level, they need to be called out repeatedly, consistently, and not just temporarily. And then all sorts of
actions can be taken which identify whether they are speaking the truth or are misrepresenting the situation.
I mean, I would ask them, OK, take the documents that we identify and the statements that we identify in our report, take them one by one, and either
deny that they exist or were ever said or reject them, right? In other words, overcome them with a statement of compliance with international law.
I mean, yes, it's a tough pull. But, at some point, the Chinese government has to be directly confronted with human rights issues.
AMANPOUR: And many, many U.S. administrations have tried, but this is really important now, because the U.S. government is calling this genocide.
And, as you have said, that does call for a response under international law.
Can I just ask you, Jewher, there are terrible and shocking statistics, and our correspondent Ivan Watson has also reported on this, about forced
sterilization amongst Uyghur women, and some of the reports saying that there's a dramatic drop in the Uyghur birth rate, down 33 percent between
2017 and 2018.
What do you know about that? And why do you think China has decided to conduct this full-scale assault on 11 million of its people?
ILHAM: First of all, I would like to say -- I would like to echo in earlier discussions that the Chinese government had denying that all -- any
of these human rights abuses have been happening.
I would like to note that the Chinese government has never admitted that there's single human rights abuses, including the forced sterilization or
any sexual abuses that have been happening in those camps, but there's no human rights abuses. They never admitted that there was human rights abuses
in Tibet, in Inner Mongolia, in Hong Kong, in Tiananmen Square.
And they don't admit that thousands of human rights lawyers and Christians have been -- and political prisoners, including my father, have been
putting -- have been being put in prisons. They have never admitted in the past.
And I don't want to see them admitting it -- admitting now. I have personally interviewed few camp survivors on my personal advocacy work. And
I am currently assisting on a documentary film on the Uyghur issues. And I do -- for a fact, I know these are all happening.
Just to address my personal experience, I grew up having my personal human rights being abused by the Chinese government officials. Growing up, I was
house arrest -- put under house arrest multiple times, along with my father. We -- growing up, I had bugging devices in my apartment. Growing
up, we were being followed everywhere, even to shopping malls.
My cousin was arrested for having my father's photo and his article in her cell phone just on her way to a shopping mall. And these are all happening.
And the Chinese government should no longer deny that all of -- any of these, with those mounting evidence presented, and they should no longer
deny that these are happening.
And I really do hope that international community can continue to push on this issue and continue to pay attention to this issue. And, also,
governments can press the -- enforce legislations that actually work and that can actually prevent this from keep happening.
AMANPOUR: OK. All right.
Well, Jewher Ilham and David Scheffer, you really have brought this to -- right to the front and center. You're making a lot of noise. And, of
course, we will continue to keep our focus on it.
David Scheffer, Jewher Ilham, thank you both very much for joining us.
And now we turn to a dynamic young woman whose extraordinary rise in the business world began with all-too-common obstacles. Whitney Wolfe Herd is
the 31-year-old founder and CEO of Bumble, the buzzy dating app where women take the lead.
Only they can send the first message. And Bumbles board members are also majority female. Last month, Whitney Wolfe Herd became the youngest woman
to take a major American company public. And her son was there for the historic moment, taking a ride on her mom's hip.
Here's our conversation about dating, love and success in the age of COVID.
AMANPOUR: Whitney Wolfe Herd, welcome to the program.
Can I just start by asking you whether you accept or like the fact that your first byline is the world's youngest female billionaire? Is that how
you measure your success at Bumble?
WOLFE HERD: No, that is not how we measure our success of Bumble. And that is simply a headline. And, really, truly, our success is measured by the
success stories that come out of our product and the success of our team and the customer experience.
So, that is certainly not something we're anchored to.
AMANPOUR: And yet you have just had an incredibly successful IPO. And you made an amazing statement by carrying your newborn child or your 1-year-old
child on your hip. And the picture is incredible.
What are you saying about your app that is potentially different from all the others on the market?
WOLFE HERD: Yes, no, it was an amazing morning. And it was a really huge milestone for us as a team, but also as a woman, to bring a human into the
world and prepare for an IPO on the same year. It's been a lot of work, but really rewarding. And I feel incredibly grateful to be able to be dynamic
in that sense.
And this morning, he was clinging on to me before we started this morning. So he almost showed up to this. But the thing that really sets us apart...
WOLFE HERD: ... is that we set out to do something different back in 2014.
It was not about creating a competitive dating app. It was about changing the paradigm of how we connect. If you look at relationships more broadly,
they are the most important part of all of our lives.
But the reality is that relationships were unhealthy, and they were disempowering, and they were putting women second. And we really wanted to
set out to recalibrate that. By letting women be the first mover, giving them power, it really changes the dynamics through and through.
AMANPOUR: You know, I heard you say that it's almost like reverse- engineering the relationship experience, because men are trained to -- quote -- "go get them." Women are trained in terms of -- you know, by
society, to wait, play hard to get, wait for the guy to make the first move.
Talk to me a little bit about that. And how have you found that reverse- engineering working out?
WOLFE HERD: Yes. No, that's a great way to frame it.
Technology has this remarkable ability to either perpetuate behavior or to rewrite it. And I was very, very dissatisfied with the way relationships
were set for women. It was almost like it was written. And we all had to subscribe to the same rules.
But these rules were archaic. And not only were they disempowering for women. They were actually really disempowering for men as well. To put all
this pressure on men and to assume that they should go hunting for a relationship, to only be rejected and turned down time and time again,
that's not healthy for men either.
And so by shifting this, by tweaking this, and by putting women in the driver's seat, not only are you finally giving women control over the most
important aspect of their lives, their relationships, but you're also just leveling the playing field and stabilizing the situation for everyone.
This reduces harassment, rejection, insecurities. And it really just creates a kinder ecosystem. And if you look at technology more broadly, bad
behavior has only been put on blast, and we have only been allowed to do more of it, right, if you look at social media more broadly.
And Bumble has always been about drawing a line in the sand and saying, why not do it differently? Why not have consequences for bad behavior? We have
always been very proactive in banning bad behavior. And this is something that not only women can benefit from, but everybody.
When you make relationships better for women, you make relationships better for everybody.
AMANPOUR: How do you police that bad behavior, because social media is such -- I mean, it can be obviously so helpful.
Obviously, it was, I guess, created to be helpful and to be a connector. But, as we all know, and I think you know as well, it is a very violent
place for many people, especially -- especially women in terms of abuse that one can get on social media. And, certainly, I think you saw in some
of the other dating apps that there is that kind of potential for bad behavior, as you call it.
But how do you police it?
WOLFE HERD: Sure.
So, I think it's important to note that we cannot guarantee good behavior on Bumble. That's not what we're promising. What we're promising is that we
are building technology and creating innovative features to help reduce this behavior, or to help you flag it and block it when it does happen to
both prevent it from happening to you again, but also from preventing it from occurring with other people.
So, let me give you a quick example. We introduced a photo verification very early on. We were one of the first social media platforms to do this,
where we said, you know what, anonymity is fueling a lot of this hate. It's fueling a lot of this bad behavior.
If we could just engineer some accountability through features and through product and through our terms and conditions, maybe we could create a
kinder ecosystem. So, by verifying -- verifying our community, the propensity to behave poorly when you are who you say you are goes down.
And so, when you are accountable, the behavior becomes better. We do not let customers just unmatch someone. So, for example, if you treat someone
poorly on Bumble, you can't just disappear. You can't just unmatch that person and get away with that behavior. Your consequences will live on. And
so that person will be able to block and report you.
And then we will be able to take measures to either ban, block or give warnings to our customers. And so we just have very strong terms and
conditions about what is appropriate and what is not.
And this has been foundational to us. This is not something we put in place five years in. This is something that we really launched with and have been
very true to from day one.
AMANPOUR: I just want to ask you, because I know we're not allowed to talk about what happened at Tinder. You're under various legal obligations. But,
obviously you left Tinder. You were a co-founder. There were allegations of sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace.
And you left. And there was a settlement. But what I want to ask you is to talk about the abuse you have already talked about that you got when you
were trying to hold them accountable. And how did your experience there play into what you have created at Bumble, and how you service now this new
WOLFE HERD: Sure.
So, I won't comment on Tinder or my time there. But what I can say is, my time following Tinder was a very painful time. I was experiencing a lot of
harassment on various social channels. And it gave me this clarity into the bigger problem.
And I was faced with this opportunity. Either let social media completely dismantle my confidence and break me down and my career, or I could take it
as a gateway to go and fix it.
And I recognized that social media was just a platform to be mean to one another, to treat each other poorly. And I thought to myself, well, what if
we could change this? What if we could actually engineer better behavior through innovative technology features?
And that was the very beginning of a very long journey. Obviously, my journey took a different path and back into a dating app and partnership
with Badoo. But that was the foundation and the formative -- in the formative time.
And so, I think there's this lesson that we can all take away from that is identify the things that break you down, identify the things that cause you
pain and find opportunity in that. Find an opportunity to go and change it. And by changing it, you can guarantee that somebody else is suffering from
those problems as well, and maybe you can make an impact for someone beyond yourself. And that was really the way I looked at it.
AMANPOUR: And often women -- I mean, like right now, we're seeing Meghan Markle having talking about, you know, the abuse she suffered all over the
place, a couple of weeks ago we were focused on Britney Spears, "Framing Britney," just, you know, the way so many women are targeted.
I just wonder how you feel about -- you know, it's almost like the sisterhood -- maybe that's not the right way to put it. You've obviously
been responsible or Bumble has been responsible for a lot of successful relationships. How do you feel personally about mothering all this harmony,
happiness, marriage and partnership around the world?
WOLFE HERD: You know, I'm honestly just very proud to have a very small role in hopefully changing the narrative around women, women in power,
women with voice -- with their -- using their voice. And candidly, all women, globally, it doesn't matter where we're from or what we've gone
through, we all share this common thread of being put into this box of what we should be, what we shouldn't be. And if we aren't exactly what society
has told us to be, then we are taken down.
And look at Britney, and look at Meghan, look at all of the various examples and then look at all the women in their junior high schools, their
high schools or living in the homes all around the world, this is a universal pain point, and yes, it comes in very different shapes is and
sizes. And obviously, one person's struggle is very different from the other, but we have all gone through this, we have all been held hostage to
some degree by the standards that society has imposed on us for centuries, and this amazing moment is taking place where people are starting to
recognize that it's not right and they are starting to celebrate the women that are going out and trying to change it.
And if I can be a teeny tiny very small fraction of that path forward, then it is the honor of a lifetime. And I'm really proud of all of the women
around me that have been the ones that have inspired me and shown me that it is possible and it's a new day. And I think that that's very exciting.
AMANPOUR: Yes, it is. And you've got up until, at least the first quarter of 2020, it said that you have 42 million users of the app. But my question
to you is, do you have international users? I mean, there are some, you know, countries where -- like, I don't know, India, parts of the Middle
East, elsewhere, real patriarchal societies where, you know, women could really use an app like Bumble to try to take control of their own intimacy
and their own, you know, desires. Do you -- are you active in those parts of the world?
WOLFE HERD: The short answer is yes. And there is no shortage of need to go and take Bumble to quite literally every corner of the earth. And when
we launched Bumble in India in 2018, we -- it might have been 2019, and I am losing track of the years at this point, but we saw tremendous success.
It was remarkable.
We went in with Priyanka Chopra Jonas who is such an amazing woman and a dear friend of mine. And the women really responded so well to this,
because for the first time maybe ever in their lives they were not only given permission but they were applauded and celebrated for using their
voice when it came to choice and relationship, when it came to making the first move. Bumble celebrates you for that. It doesn't only give you
permission, it really encourages it and says, this is the way it should be.
And so, we bring you along on this ride of celebrating you making the first move and recalibrating the way that you've always been told that it should
be. And so, the short answer is, yes, we do have a global footprint and we are only going to grow deeper into these international territories, and
it's been a remarkable journey. And our sister business, Badoo, we've been able to learn from them, as they have such a global footprint, and think
the opportunity ahead to really prove that women should, can, will and are going to make the first move is -- we're just in the early innings of this
and we're really excited about the global opportunity ahead.
AMANPOUR: So, talk to me just a little bit about the pandemic. What have you seen about people's desires and the fulfillment of those desires and
relationships during the pandemic?
WOLFE HERD: The pandemic obviously has been an absolutely devastating time for so many people around the globe. But what I will say is that it
emphasized and highlighted the need for real relationships. I think if we can all come out of this with one universal truth, it's the importance of
our relationships. And not just relationships, but the health and the equity of those relationships. You have seen all-time highs for domestic
abuse and violence in the home. It is devastating. It's awful.
And so, what we have seen through the pandemic on our product is that people are really looking for genuine authentic and real connection. We
have seen this surge of slow dating, which means that people are getting to know each other, they are having this courtship digitally first. So,
instead of having a quick chat and going to the coffee shop, they're having video chats on our product, they're spending on average 30 minutes getting
to know one another, they're having their first, second, third and sometimes more dates, and really understanding if they are compatible and
they're building real relationships.
And this has been a fascinating twist of events for the dating community, and we are really excited about this shift, because of the safety that it
really provides. I mean, having the opportunity to vet somebody through a first date via your phone it just gives you a sense of security that you
could never get in the real world. And this also gives you a sense of understanding if you're compatible.
And so, we've seen this absolute fascinating trend into the slow dating behavior, and we think that it's here to stay. And we're very eager to be a
part of the resurgence going back into the real world as well, and we think that Bumble is primed to have this really interesting role as the world
goes both physical, but leans into the digital more. I mean, what we have seen with the digital behavior as we have gone years ahead in the future in
terms of the technological advancements in terms of destigmatizing what it means to meet online and this is now the norm. This is how it works and it
is here to stay.
AMANPOUR: OK. That's -- it's really interesting and encouraging. So, CEO of Bumble, 1-year-old child. Did you meet your husband on a dating app?
WOLFE HERD: I did not meet him on dating app. No, we met in real life. But he is a strong example of Bumble. He's a very kind and respectful and
empowering partner, and I think that's what Bumble is all about. So, it's been a great journey.
AMANPOUR: Brilliant. Thank you so much. Whitney Wolfe Herd, thank you very much for joining me.
WOLFE HERD: Thank you so much for having me.
AMANPOUR: Now, many Americans have been trapped in the cycle of poverty for decades in a trail blazing effort to challenge this. Former mayor,
Michael Tubbs of Stockton, California, launched the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration, that was in 2019. And now, the preliminary
results are in.
The guaranteed basic income effort is known as SEED. It began by giving 125 individuals $500 a month for two years. Volunteers were chosen from
neighborhoods where the median income was around $46,000 or below.
Director Sukhi Samra and Researcher Dr. Amy Castro Baker talk to our Hari Sreenivasan about how this system works.
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Sukhi Samra, Amy Baker, thanks for joining us.
Amy Baker, you were one of the principal investigators. Your job is to comb through all this information, make sure that the findings are robust. What
did you find?
AMY CASTRO BAKER, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: Oh, so many things. You know, I think the top line, you know, things that we would
point to would be that after one year, we saw a rise in the number of people who moved from underemployment to full employment. We also saw
decreases in clinically significant levels of anxiety and depression in the treatment group, that that went down, whereas the control group stayed
steady. And then we also saw that recipients had more liquidity to handle unexpected expenses.
And what this meant was that it showed up as real change in the way that they were able to show up in their families, the amount of time that they
had to engage in the relationships, engage in the community, and that -- really that alleviation of natural burden created more time and space in
SREENIVASAN: Sukhi Samra, you know, one of the critiques of any program like this is this notion of personal responsibility, that people won't be
responsible if you just give them a no strings attached check or a cash-in- hand. So, what did people do with the money? How did they spend it? What do we know?
SUKHI SAMRA, DIRECTOR, SEED: Yes. So, we know that one of the goals of SEED from the very forefront was to dispel exactly those types of myths
that you're talking about, that people are poor because of their own choices, that people are poor because that they don't work hard enough,
that poor are going to spend money on drugs and alcohol. We know this isn't true, because the data speaks differently.
In terms of spending, we saw our recipients spending on the basics. They're spending on the necessities like food, like transportation, like utilities,
like sales and merchandise. Less than 1 percent was spent on tobacco and alcohol. So, again, it's really dispelling the myth that if you give people
money, they're not going to use it "responsibly." We saw over and over again recipients using it to get ahead and to take care of themselves and
SREENIVASAN: How did they do that? What were some of the stories that you heard about how they decided to spend this to get ahead?
SAMRA: Sure. So, one of them is Laura, she's an older woman. She's about 70 years old. And at the beginning of the pandemic, she used it to pay down
her credit card bills, she used it to pay down her medical bills, she used it to get a new car for herself. And about a year -- about six months or a
year into demonstration, she actually ended up homeless and she talks about how she waited 70 years after working her entire life to become home
because of an apartment fire in her complex.
And so, at that point, she was able to use the $500 a month to put down a down payment as well as to pay for movers to move into her new apartment.
We have Zone (ph) who used it, again, to pay down her bills. She used it for tithes and donations. She used it to finally have some date nights with
her husband and really be able to spend time with her partner and her spouse. And we see that over and over again. We have other recipients using
it to finally buy their gifts kids gifts that they're always wanted to buy then but never had the sort of extra money to do. We hear about birthday
cakes and dentures and just really the full gamut of things that, I think, folks who are economically secure take for granted, but folks who are
experiencing poverty and economically insecure aren't able to really enjoy for themselves.
SREENIVASAN: Amy Baker, you know, the idea of something added or a bonus like a birthday cake seems nice, but one of the things that you touched on
was sort of the economic volatility and the emergency funds that most people don't have. So, what does this $500 do or what did it do to those
people when they inevitably got thrown a curveball?
BAKER: I mean, essentially, what it meant was that they had money on hand to smooth that shock, right. So, we know that pre-pandemic, 40 percent of
American households could not afford a $400 emergency, which is why -- part of the reason why, you know, the amount of money in this experiment was set
And so, what we saw was a real decrease in the number of people who would have to put that expense on a credit card or would have to turn to friends
or family in order to cover that expense. But also, just to kind of circle back to what Sukhi was just highlighting about those purchases, things like
birthday cakes and prom dresses and dentures and all of these things that so many people take for granted, they're not one-offs, right, those are,
you know, what we would call dignity purchases, and they are part of the ways that most of us get to show up in relationships and get to show up as
part of American life.
And so, it's sort of much bigger than just, oh, you know, I was able to buy a birthday cake, that sounds like a nice story, right, and it is a nice
story but it's not just about that, it's about the fact that for that family, they were able to participate in a rite of childhood and in a rite
of being a parent to actually take a breath, sit down and enjoy time with your kids.
And so, we really see that reflected in both the narrative data and in also, of course, the quantitative data when you're seeing things like
decreases in anxiety and depression, which we know from a mountain of data impacts relationships.
SREENIVASAN: Sukhi Samra, did you see that this stayed in a single pocket? I mean, when you can see people that are in these communities that are
already economically distressed, they are often times surrounded by other neighbors or other family members in the same boat. So, if one of them was
lucky enough to be in this experiment, did they share that -- not wealth, but funding?
SAMRA: Yes. And this is something Dr. Castro Baker and (INAUDIBLE) found in the data, which is that we the $500 just spread across our social
networks. We know that -- especially, women and women of color, when they take care of their entire communities, it's not just their families, but
it's their extended families, it's their neighbors, and we saw that really bear out in the data with the folks maybe not borrowing the money for food,
but being able to extend that food over across their entire networks.
And again, Dr. Castro Baker talks about this concept of forced vulnerability, that when you are poor, there's this real tendency to
glamourize the ways in which poor folks are able to rely on the social networks to get ahead, but it is cute that people who are experiencing
economic insecurities have really close ties to their social networks. But that's not the cause, they are forced to that because they have to rely on
their social networks for money. And with the $500, we saw that people who just had so much more agency and choice not only in what they were spending
on but also on who they got to engage with.
SREENIVASAN: One of the things that you mentioned was about employment and how you were surprised to see this transition from underemployment to
employment. Because one of those myths or, you know, has been that, well, you give people money, they have a disincentive to go find work. What did
you find in the numbers?
BAKER: Yes. So, I'll start by saying part of the reason I was surprised was because that it happened so quickly, right. So, the data we're
releasing is only one -- it's only the first year, right. And so, in a longer-term experiment, I would expect to see those types of changes. But
in something so short, it really shows my failure of imagination and my failure faith in what people are capable of.
And so, what we saw, practically speaking, was 28 percent of recipients at the start of the experiment had full-time employment, and then one year
later, 40 percent were employed full-time. And so, the question becomes, how, like what happened, right? You know, first we know, if anyone out
there knows how you can live on $500 a month anywhere in the Unites States, please let me know, that sounds great. So, how $500 a month is going to
somehow disincentivize someone from working just is an odd notion to me to begin with.
But what we saw was financial scarcity really generates time scarcity. And so, there were many people who had this material barriers seeking full-time
employment that they just could not get over without having that cushion or that floor of the $500. So, in comes cases, these were practical things.
You know, if you cannot take a shift off of work to apply for another job that there is no guarantee you're going to get, you literally cannot do it.
So, think about the fact that most people are one paycheck away from financial disaster, you don't have the time to actually stop, take off of
work, apply for a new position, that's probably the most common refrain that we saw in the data.
The second one would be, again, thinking about the health and the well- being. So, when you're trapped in a scarcity battle and every single minute of every day you're locked in anxiety because you are fighting the fact
that you cannot pay your bills, you don't even have the chance to kind of take a breath and reimagine a different path forward. So, it's sort of a
combination of those two things, you know, one, removing those material barriers and then two, seeing increases in well-being that allow people to
take the risks. And people said it to us over and over and over again, they would say, I'm finally able to take so many risks that I could not take
SREENIVASAN: Sukhi, when look across the City of Stockton and even with this small sample set, what does this tell about sort of labor potential
that is right now going uncaptured, right? If you are in a job that you really need and you need every hour of work, you can't take an hour off to
get an interview at a better job. So, how many people are stuck like that?
SAMRA: Yes. I think one of the things that we see with SEED is just the way in which poverty really hinders people from reaching their full
potential in the ways in which it solves people from fully participating in the economy. (INAUDIBLE) are thinking about just the employment data, one
of the things that we also saw was the way in which a guaranteed income can compensate care work, that's, again, work that's primarily done by women,
women of color, black women, Latino women, native women who -- and we have seen the ways in which care work has really impacted and hindered the way
that women are participating in the economy, especially during COVID-19.
And we saw on the data, I mean, 11 percent of our recipients identified as care work as their primary form of employment. And so, the $500 a month
really (INAUDIBLE) and to that work that was being done. And a lot of folks who feel compensated for the work that the -- that is the only reason that
the formal economy is working but that isn't traditionally recognized because of the nature who does it.
SREENIVASAN: Do we have numbers on how people use this $500 to kind of roll with the punches as life happened and emergencies happened and that
economic volatility happened in their lives?
BAKER: Yes. So, what's so important to -- you know, for people to understand is that income volatility, which is when your money goes up and
down by the week or by the month because you're a waged worker or you're an independent contractor, what that does is that walks you out of, say,
financial instruments but it also creates a lot of chaos and creates a lot of unevenness in household budgets.
So -- and what we saw was that after one year, those people who were in the treatment group were only experiencing a 46 percent monthly income
volatility versus the control group who are experiencing a 67 percent monthly income fluctuation.
SREENIVASAN: And for people who don't understand, what is 67 percent monthly -- what is that --
BAKER: What does it mean? Like what does it matter?
SREENIVASAN: That's a hard idea to wrap our heads around. What -- when we talk about income volatility --
SREENIVASAN: -- having 67 percent, that is a huge amount of uncertainty.
BAKER: It is incredible amount of uncertainty. You know, and -- so, first, I mean, the market picks up on that, right. So, you know, just for clarity,
whether you make on average $20,000 a year or $100,000 a year, if your income is constantly fluctuating, you cannot qualify for most mortgages,
you can't qualify for a lot of financial instruments because you are by definition unpredictable, right. And markets work predictability when it
comes to extending things like credit, right. So, there's of course that where it locks you in the economy.
But then, second, you can't budget, right. And how do you actually choose where to live and have kind of stability in terms of knowing where your
rent is going to come from each month? So, if your money is constantly going up and down, you can't predict what you're going to be able to put
away not can you save.
SREENIVASAN: Sukhi, someone's going to look at this and say, all right, 125 people, $500 a month and one city in California, how do we scale this?
Is it worth trying on a larger population, a larger cross section?
SAMRA: The exciting thing is that we've already scaled this. So, from SEED has grown merits for a guaranteed income, which is a coalition of about 42
mayors currently who are advocating for a federal guaranteed income through policy efforts through the pilots of their own and then by inviting other
cities to join our work.
We launched back in June of 2020 in response to not only the pandemic in the ways in which mayors are really stepping up to fill in when the federal
administration wasn't, but also in response to the protests that happened in the wake of George Floyd's murder and in the wake Breonna Taylor's
murder, and really realizing that guaranteed income is a solution to -- can be a solution to both racial justice and economic justice because we know
that racial justice and economic justice are intertwine, you cannot have one without the other.
SREENIVASAN: Dr. Castro Baker, we kind of almost have a natural A-B sort of period here. There's the pre-pandemic and the post. And the data you're
looking at now is just for the somewhat normal year when we had kind of the, you know, somewhat normal situations of poverty. But after this next
years' worth of information, we are going to face something completely different.
BAKER: Yes. I mean, essentially, we have two studies we're going to study, right. So, we have one year of pre-pandemic data and then a second year of
pandemic data. We'll be able to compare those two.
And so, the first thing that I think is really important to get is that while the pandemic is sort of all-consuming right now for everybody, you
can't escape it, right, it's also -- it's a pandemic today, next week it's going to be a hurricane, a year from now it will be a recession, there
could be another housing crisis. Risk is part and parcel of American life.
We are in a stage right now of late-stage capitalism where people experience constant economic shocks. So, one of the things that we're
really excited about is we'll be able to say to what degree guaranteed income serve as a financial vaccine for people to whether the pandemic in a
more stable position.
SREENIVASAN: Sukhi, have you seen the political landscape shift, I guess? And what were the sort of the primary causes? Because technically, some
version of UBI has been around for a long time in Alaska and other places, we saw, for example, Andrew Yang, a presidential candidate, mention it a
lot when he was on the campaign trail. But between him and what's happened through the pandemic, how has the idea and its acceptance changed?
SAMRA: We're definitely seeing new momentum for the idea and I would say that started even before the pandemic. When we launched back in 2017,
guaranteed income was this crazy (INAUDIBLE) leftist idea that would never enter the mainstream. A couple of years later, we saw folks falling in
Stockton's footsteps, we saw a task force in Chicago and Newark, and we saw then-Senator Harris propose her Lift Act, which is essentially a guaranteed
income of $500 a month to folks -- to families making less than about $125 per year.
We also had Representative Rashida Tlaib's Boost Act which went a step further than Senator -- then-Senator Harris's Lift Act to have no
(INAUDIBLE) for employment. Once the pandemic hit, again, we just saw the - - just the vast economic precarity that most American households were facing and we saw a number of folks advocating for recurring checks in the
face of the pandemic.
We haven't gotten there yet. We've seen that $1,200 in the initial CARES Act. Now, we're having conversations around $1,400 or $2,000 but the
pandemic has really created a unique policy moment because it just exposed what we already knew to be true that most Americans are struggling. But
now, everyone is feeling it so viscerally that it's created this moment in which we can react to the policy that's really people focused.
SREENIVASAN: Sukhi, why is this so personal for you? What drew you to this project?
SAMRA: Yes. Poverty is personal to me. I grew up in a two-parent household, but my mom was the only one that worked. My dad was disabled.
And when I was growing up, my mom was working two to three jobs to provide for me and my two sisters. She was a cashier at a gas station, she worked
at subway, she cleaned houses, and we were still relying on public benefits like medical (ph) and like food stamps. Not because we were lazy, not
because my mom didn't want to work, but because she was working and it just wasn't enough.
And for me -- and just adding to that, my mom actually, over the past year, was studying for the GED because she really wanted to break out of the
cycle of poverty and economic insecurity and to find a job with benefits. And my mom's dream never came true, she passed away about nine months ago,
in the middle of the pandemic. But for me, as devastating as her story is, it's the norm and it's -- the guaranteed income, it gives us the potential
to break that and to make sure that my mom's story is an exception and that we're really building an economy that works for everyone.
SREENIVASAN: I know that your mom was not part of the experiment. But if she was a recipient of $500 a month, how do you think that her life would
have changed or your lives would have changed?
SAMRA: It would have been changed for the better. Growing up my -- I saw the ways in which the trauma of poverty and economic insecurity was really
etched into mom's wife lie in really big ways and really small ways. She was never at home, she struggled with high blood pressure, which is like
the hallmark condition of poverty, she struggled with depression, she struggled with anxiety. And I think the $500 a month would have really
helped stabilized those health outcomes for her, would have made her happier, and less stressed.
And, again, like I said before, she was passed away and she was studying for the GED. This wasn't her first time studying for it, this is actually
the third time, and she was committed this time that she was going to be able to get her GED, even if it meant that she had to retire by the time
she finally did it. And I think about the fact that if she just had those $500 a month, the first or second time that she had tried to get her GED,
she would have been working a different job when she passed away. She wouldn't have been stuck in the low wage work in the ways that she was.
And so, I think in the ways that we've seen with our Stockton recipients, it would have allowed her to reach her full potential because she was
really smart, she had so much potential but she wasn't able to act on it because of her circumstances.
SREENIVASAN: Sukhi Samra and Dr. Amy Castro Baker, thank you both.
SAMRA: Thank you.
BAKER: Thanks for having us.
AMANPOUR: Remarkable, really. And that's it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast and across social media. Thank you for watching
and goodbye from London.