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Interview With With Author Hilary Mantel; Interview With Israeli Ambassador to the United Kingdom Tzipi Hotovely; Interview With Colombian President Ivan Duque. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired May 12, 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): As anti-government protests escalate in Colombia, an exclusive interview with President Ivan Duque.
And the latest from Israel, as violence ratchets up.
HILARY MANTEL, AUTHOR, "THE MIRROR AND THE LIGHT": I have got more ideas and I have got years left to execute them.
AMANPOUR: The great British novelist Hilary Mantel. We talk about wrapping up the epic "Wolf Hall" saga and her hard journey to success.
HELAINE OLEN, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Women are sort of almost -- we're almost all schooled in some ways to put ourselves second or third.
AMANPOUR: Columnist Helaine Olen tells Michel Martin how American women are being forced out of work.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Some city streets look like war zones in Colombia. Anti-government protesters show no sign of letting up, condemning police brutality and
calling for reforms. More than 40 people have been killed since this began, when the president slapped a new tax on people already impoverished by the
Let's go straight to the capital, Bogota, now with this report from Inigo Gilmore.
INIGO GILMORE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Once again, they're taking to the streets of Colombia's capital, making their voices
heard. This march against poverty and inequality has a morbid theme, civilian deaths at the hands of police driving protesters to take to the
streets in their thousands, despite the COVID crisis ravaging the country.
Before long, a confrontation erupts. Protesters retreat under a volley of tear gas, but no one's giving up.
RICARDO TAFUR, PROTESTER (through translator): All of Colombia is telling the government to open up a dialogue, because that is what we need. And
they are not doing it. How many deaths are needed? Because we won't stop.
GILMORE: As unrest sweeps Colombia, pro-government media has denounced the protesters as vandals wreaking havoc, focusing on images like these. Here,
a mob sets fire to a police station in a poor Bogota suburb.
Some officers are beaten as they escape. But protesters insist that they're being brutally targeted at their peaceful demonstrations, which were
initially triggered by plans for government tax reforms seen as favoring the wealthy over the poor, at a time when the COVID-ravaged economy was
Even though the proposals were withdrawn, many protesters feel compelled to continue, as cities are convulsed in warlike scenes, with armed forces
deployed, sometimes with lethal force.
CAMILO PENA, STUDENT (through translator): What we are fighting for now is to make sure our cities don't because militarized in Bogota and Cali. We
are the people, and we are not a match to the army. We're being brutalized. And we are also fighting for the health care sector, which is being
GILMORE: But the authorities insist it's criminals and terrorists who are behind the violence and wanton destruction.
IVAN DUQUE, COLOMBIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The violent threat we face consists of a criminal organization that hides behind legitimate
social hopes to destabilize society and cause terror and distract public order.
AMANPOUR: And the Colombian president, Ivan Duque, joins me now from Bogota in an exclusive interview.
Mr. President, welcome back to our program.
We have spoken many times about your plans for your country. So, let me just start by asking you, why are protesters being met with a highly
militarized response that your country, you, the government, normally reserves for fighters, rebels, drug cartels and the like?
Why helicopters deployed over city streets and militarized police firing off like that?
DUQUE: Well, thank you so much, Christiane, for having me in your program.
And let me begin by saying that we have always trusted and we have always defended the fundamental rights in our constitution for pacifist protest.
We believe that it's part of freedom of expression.
And when we refer to pacifist protest, we have always guaranteed rights. We have to understand that, in some places of the country, we have seen that
people have turned their expression into vandalism and criminal actions. Those actions are regulated under the Colombian legislation to be faced
with specific protocols from the police and, obviously, by local authorities.
So, we have guaranteed that those protocols are met.
And I have to be very clear as well, Christiane, that if there's any wrongdoing from a member of the police or from the army in any expression,
those conducts are being investigated and are going to be judicialized.
But it's also very important to say that most of the protesters have acted peacefully. And a minimum group that has, in some places, linkages to
criminal actions, those kinds of conducts have to be faced by the police with contingency.
Mr. President, you say what most people are saying, that most of the protests are peaceful. And yet, in your statement that we broadcast before
you came on live, you implied that you were faced with a terrorist mob, and that the response by the government was legitimate.
And yet 41 civilians have been killed. And we have seen and we have aired the reports and videos of the incidents there. So, we have also heard from
young people on the streets in your country, in your capital, saying: We just want dialogue. We want to talk to our leaders about poverty, about the
collapse of our basic services, about that tax that was slapped on us that means that we can't afford even basic goods.
I know you have removed that now. But if you agree that the majority of the protesters are peaceful, why is this militarized response continuing? Will
you call it off?
DUQUE: Let me -- let me, Christiane, de-aggregate your question, because I think it's very important for me to clarify all the points that you have
First of all, pacifist protest is always guaranteed and shall be guaranteed by any authority in our country.
The second thing, we saw cases of violence and vandalism and the destruction of public transportation, public goods, public buildings, and
also the affection of civilians or people that were just passing by in the streets, or people that have their businesses that have been affected by
those acts of vandalism.
And those acts of vandalism to places in the city of Cali in some places of the city, and also in Bogota in some places of the city. And the
intervention to face those acts of violence not only is ruled by the constitution and the law, but it's always done under strict coordination
with local authorities.
In those specific cases where there is a threat to public security, the protocols imply that there has to be an action from the police, but, also,
if there is a major threat in a city, the militaries can complement the work, but never engage in anti-riot activities.
What they do, in the collaboration, is to protect critical infrastructure that can be threatened. But by no means there have been members of the
military that have been engaged in anti-riot activities.
And in the case of the possible wrongdoings, I would just like to highlight this, Christiane. We have now 65 accusations on members of the military or
the police, but, specifically, 98 percent on possibilities regarding police activities, 65 cases have been opened, because we have a zero tolerance
policy for any individual conduct that is beyond the law
And who have collaborated on that? The commanders of the police, the commanders of the forces. And we have been doing the investigations in a
rapid way with the attorney general's office. And we have to be always clear.
DUQUE: Zero tolerance with any abuse of human rights or conducts that are beyond the Colombian legislation.
But it's always important to highlight that we have a level of coordination with local authorities, so that if there is a threat to security, what we
do is to support law and order locally, and it's done by strict protocols of the use of force.
AMANPOUR: So, Mr. President, you're making a distinction between military and police.
We have seen what the military has done. And we have heard from your own side that 40 to 41 protesters, civilians, have been killed in a democracy.
So, that, we need to be clear about as well.
And let me read you what one of your key backers in the United States has actually tweeted.
This is Senator Patrick Leahy, who tweeted overnight: "It is shocking to see the violent police response by the Colombian government of
overwhelmingly peaceful protesters. The U.S. has invested billions to help Colombia prosper and establish a foundation for the rule of law. Much has
been achieved, but the protests and the government's myopic and violent response shows how far the country has still to go. The rule of law remains
You know, Mr. President, you spent a lot of time and a lot of your education in the United States. And you have -- you have seen how protests
should go. And you have also seen how many leaders conflate small groups of, let's say, violent ones with a vast and huge majority of peaceful
And I just want to know what you think your legacy is going to be. You can't run for president again. Your term is up in a couple of years. What
do you want your legacy to be in this moment?
DUQUE: Well, let me -- let me go to all the points that you have raised.
On the one hand, I want to be very clear that I have always been a defender of the right to pacifist protest in a democracy. I have been a defender and
I have trusted always in democracy.
We have been dealing with cases of violence that are specific cases, with all the protocols of the use of force. Any accusation of a wrongdoing of an
individual that is a member of the police bodies have been investigated, will be investigated, and we are going to work closely with the attorney
DUQUE: The attorney general's office is doing the investigations with rigorousity in order to determine what were the causes of people that have
died in interactions or fights with the police bodies.
And that is very clear from my side. We have to get to the bottom of the investigations. We have -- also have to move forward very closely with the
investigations that are related to acts of violence against police bodies.
But you have -- you mentioned something very important, Christiane. You mentioned that peaceful protests have -- say that we have to engage in a
dialogue. We have opened that dialogue. And we know that we have people that have been badly affected by the political, economic and social effects
of the pandemic.
And we know that we have to embrace many social causes in a rapid way, because we know the youngsters, for example, have been the most affected,
in terms of employment, by the pandemic. And we want to be able to put all the public policy to respond to those sectors of the population.
But you mentioned something else. What do I want my legacy to be? At this moment, Christiane, I think the most important thing is that we have to
attend the people that have been badly affected economically and socially by the pandemic.
And we are engaging into dialogues with young people throughout the country. And we want to build a national pact, so that we can attend their
employment needs, their education needs, and also to promote their leadership to have political participation and representation.
DUQUE: And the legacy is also connected with the idea of getting Colombia back to work, back with vaccination, so that we can recover from this bad
event that has hit in the whole world that is COVID-19 pandemic.
But, if I may summarize, my legacy is to be able to close social gaps for the most people in need. And we have to build a national consensus. And
that's why I'm not only calling for the young leaders, but also from local authorities, national authorities, so that we can build a pact for the
young people in Colombia, for the new generation, so that we can open more educational opportunities, more job opportunities, and be able to call this
year the national election to elect the regional young leaders to have a representation and be able to influence public policy.
Well, I wonder how you will start that, because, so far, the -- some of the students, the National Strike Committee, says: The government has not
shown empathy towards our demands.
Now, as you said, COVID has just devastated so much of your infrastructure. In Cali, one of the places where violence has broken out, 95 percent of the
ICU beds are occupied. The economy is terrible for people there. The number of poor people have -- has jumped by about 67 percent.
So, it's huge. You face a big problem. So -- and we have talked to the mayor of Bogota. And you have seen -- and you have seen the reporting
around what's going on.
What are you specifically going to do to make these constituents who are demanding the kind of thing you're saying you're willing to talk about, to
bring them around the table and to make these changes?
DUQUE: Let me also mention something, Christiane.
I think we all know how bad COVID-19 has hit in our economy. We know that we had a reduction in our growth of about 6 percent last year. But I'm also
certain that this year is going to be the year of economic recovery in Colombia.
I have an expectation that, in the first trimester of this year, we're going to have a positive growth. I have that expectation. That means that,
if we get into that track, we might grow above 6 percent this year. And that has to be a national goal.
We -- if we have that level of growth, obviously, what we want to see next is to recover pre -- unemployment levels that we have in -- pre-pandemic
unemployment levels. And that means that we will recover more than three million jobs.
Now, considering that the youngsters have been the most badly affected by the pandemic, because that's where we have the highest concentration of
unemployment, what we have to do is to act boldly and rapidly.
We have had two meetings with leaders from different parts of the country that represent or that have a representation in the young people movement
around the country.
DUQUE: And I have said that we want to build a pact, so that we can guarantee free university education for the sectors of the populations that
are more in need.
The second thing we want to act is to have the elections of the regional and municipal and national bodies that represent youngsters, that that has
been created by law.
DUQUE: And this has to be the year where we have that representation.
But the most important thing is that we build a program of incentives, so that corporations can hire young people and accelerate the recovery of that
sector of the population.
DUQUE: And we have seen important motivations from young leaders in the country.
And we're going to sit region by region to hear from them their proposals and be able to build this national pact.
I know this is a crisis.
DUQUE: And I know this crisis has -- has hurt us a lot.
But I think we have to turn this crisis into an opportunity. And the right way to make it an opportunity is to be able to build through dialogue an
agenda that is going to be short-, mid- and long-term that will have a permanent importance and effect on the benefits for young population in
AMANPOUR: All right.
On that note, President Ivan Duque, thank you for joining us from Colombia.
AMANPOUR: And now to the Middle East, where seven Israelis and at least 56 Palestinians have been killed in the worst violence there in years.
As Israel conducts airstrikes and Palestinian militants fire rockets, Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the United States is dispatching a
senior diplomat to the region. And he made this appeal to Israel:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Israel has an extra burden in trying to do everything it possibly can to avoid civilian casualties, even
as it is rightfully responding in defense of its people.
And, as I said, the Palestinian people have the right to safety and security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, this after the acting prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, vowed to press on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Hamas and the Islamic Jihad will pay for this, and they will pay a heavy price COVID.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: But the United Nations special envoy warns of an escalation to - - quote -- "full-scale war."
So, joining me now on this is Tzipi Hotovely. She is Israel's ambassador to the United Kingdom, and joining me right now.
And, as we speak, Madam Ambassador, we know that Palestinian children are being killed. And we're just learning also of a 6-year-old Israeli boy who
has been killed.
So, my question to you is, what is your side -- and I'm talking to you, a member of the Israeli government -- doing to de-escalate this now? Because
it doesn't sound very de-escalatory in the voice of the acting prime minister or indeed the defense minister, Benny Gantz.
TZIPI HOTOVELY, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED KINGDOM: Hello, Christiane.
I'm speaking to you from London as the Israeli ambassador. I'm representing the policy of the government of Israel. And, at the moment, Israel is under
attack. All our big cities are under big fire. Over thousands of rockets were fired into Israeli cities.
On my personal family story, I can tell you my mother was in a shelter last night. For the first time for many years in the center of Israel, Tel Aviv,
cities you're very familiar with, Israeli Parliament was evacuated, because rocket attack.
Those kind of things, any sovereign country cannot tolerate. And we're doing everything that we can in order to protect our people. Israelis
deserve to live in peace.
Yes. And, as the secretary of state said, everybody deserves to live in peace and to be able to defend themselves. That's not in question.
The question is, how is it going to de-escalate? Will the Israeli government accept a U.S. envoy, as the secretary of state says is coming?
Or how do you think -- who has the best chance of helping both sides to de- escalate this right now, if Israel wants to? Or do you believe the policy is to keep hammering Hamas until, as in the words of your policy, they
HOTOVELY: Well, our policy was always to de-escalate, in the last few days, what Israel has been doing in Jerusalem, to do everything in our
power in order to reduce the tension and to make sure that law and order will be kept in our capital city.
But, unfortunately, what we have seen -- and it's very important to understand the political background of this horrible violence that is now
being attended to Israeli citizens and civilians. We need to understand the background. The background is the fact the Palestinian Authority has
decided to cancel the Palestinian election.
On the other side, Hamas wanted to take control on the Palestinian leadership. And because they were disappointed from this Palestinian
decision, the radicals, Hamas, a terror organization recognized by United States and by United Kingdom, made a political, cynical decision to hurt
Israeli citizens, to use Jerusalem as an excuse, and actually to target children, women and men in Israel in order to achieve political aims.
We don't want to see Middle East...
AMANPOUR: Right. Ambassador...
HOTOVELY: .. that Hamas is the leadership, the legitimate -- of the Palestinians.
AMANPOUR: You also have a political crisis in Israel, where the acting prime minister appears, appears not to be able to get a government together
-- the opposition is trying to do that -- and may not be able to actually deal with this in the way that most people would hope to de-escalate.
And I want to know whether you admit that actions by the Israeli police, by right-wing settlers and activists in Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem
were provocative and whether you regret that.
Let me just play what one of your main allies, the American negotiator Aaron David Miller, told us on this program last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: There have been any number of actions that they have taken over the past three or four weeks,
particularly on closing the plaza at the beginning of Ramadan, and allowing a man like Itamar Ben-Gvir access to incite.
That's not smart thinking. It's not rational thinking. It's driven by politics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So he's referring to the settler activists who I was talking about.
I just want to understand whether you accept that there were major miscalculations, including in the words of the former national security
adviser in Israel, Giora Eiland, that started this provocation, and whether you agree that there has to be a pullback from both sides, certainly from
your side as well.
HOTOVELY: Well, Jerusalem is not a settlement. It's the capital city of Israel. Jews and Arabs live together in Jerusalem in coexistence.
And let's look at history. Since Jerusalem was united in 1967, freedom of religion and freedom of worship were provided to all religions in the city.
We always do anything in our power in order to make sure that Muslims can go on Temple Mount, definitely on this holy time of the year in the
So, all those years back, look at this, there were never any kind of clashes that we experienced in that level. What's the reason? The reason
this time we're having those clashes is because Hamas made a political decision to actually...
AMANPOUR: The police put fences around the plaza.
HOTOVELY: Christiane, I'm saying, again, you need to understand, 80,000 Muslims were worshipping on Temple Mount. The Israeli government was doing
everything in its power to prevent provocations.
But, actually, it's Hamas who's been provocating time after time, really making those youngsters -- we have seen the videos. They were piling rocks
in order to throw those rocks on innocent Israelis who were coming to prey in the Western Wall.
So, actually, it's Hamas that was provocating, creating violence. Look at those horrible things we have seen in Lod last night. The mayor of Lod said
it was, unfortunately, a Kristallnacht. can you actually believe it? In Israel, our population is burning synagogues, burning holy places in order
to create holy war and religious war.
We're against that. Actually, we are the one who are the moderates, and doing everything in our power to de-escalate. And it's actually the other
side who's totally motivated by a radical Islamist jihadi ideology. And they want to take over democratic values.
Every democratic country today should stand next to Israel, and to say Israel has the right to protect itself from those radicals, from those
AMANPOUR: Ambassador, tonight is the last night of Ramadan, is the Eid festival for the Palestinians, for the Muslims.
AMANPOUR: Over the weekend is the Nakba, which is their counterversion of your Jerusalem march.
How do you think this is going to proceed? You have seen these escalations over the years. How do you think this is going to proceed?
Well, I can tell you that the solution is very simple at this case. When Hamas will stop firing, Israel will stop firing. We don't have any desire
to have a war.
HOTOVELY: Israelis want to live in peace. Children want to go back to school. People want to go to work without having rockets being targeted to
schools and working places. So this is the reality.
When Hamas will stop firing, Israel will get back to peace and normality.
AMANPOUR: All right, Ismail Haniyeh, who is the political leader of Hamas, as you know, said that: "If Israel wants to escalate, we're ready for it.
If it wants to stop, we're also ready. If they want to remove their hand over Jerusalem, we're ready."
The both of you say, we're ready. And let's hope there's some mediator who can allow you both to back off.
Ambassador, thank you so much for joining me.
Now, let's look back in history to fierce nationalism and religious wars, all the way back to the end of the Middle Ages, with the famed historical
novelist Hilary Mantel.
Her award winning "Wolf Hall" series launched her into the literary stratosphere. The books follow the life and times of Thomas Cromwell, who
served and then was beheaded by King Henry VIII.
The last in the trilogy, "The Mirror and the Light," is now out in paperback.
And we have been speaking about her sometimes difficult journey to late-in- life success.
AMANPOUR: Hilary Mantel, welcome to the program.
You have said that everyone is in search of the inexhaustible subject. Did you find that? I mean, clearly, you found that with Thomas Cromwell. Tell
me why he fascinated you so much.
MANTEL: You have got a character here who is central to one of the most vital, interesting periods in European history.
But he seemed to me an unexploited resource. He's a man of great charisma and complexity. And yet, looking at his story, there were many books about
him, there was a great deal of written, a lot of data, but I wasn't finding a man.
And I thought this character has been underimagined. So, there's a job to do there. You can go to work. And this has huge potential.
AMANPOUR: Underimagined and perhaps also created as a villain through history for those who know anything about him at all. And you, yet, have
been much more nuanced about him.
And in "The New Yorker," they essentially describe Thomas Cromwell as the singular personality who dragged Britain, England out of the Plantagenet,
Middle Ages into early modernism, tried to fight against entrenched privileged, religious fanaticism.
Can you contextualize him for that time, but I wonder also for today?
MANTEL: Cromwell was a man from nowhere, essentially. His father was a blacksmith in Putney west of London.
There's no record of his education. He doesn't seem to have attended a university, run away from home at the age of 15, joined the French army,
found his way to Italy, became a banker, came back to Antwerp, which was the economic powerhouse of Europe, became a wool trader, back to London.
He's turned into a lawyer. He's 30 or so. He joins the household of Cardinal Wolsey (ph), this fabulous renaissance prince who is one of the
outstanding Englishmen of his age. And Wolsey (ph) sees something in him. This (INAUDIBLE) protegee. He brings him on. Eventually, called my opacity
into the king's service and he begins his climb through the ranks until he's a second man in England. He's always at the king's elbow.
AMANPOUR: And I wonder if his story is still in a way relevant at all to the continued struggle against entrenched privilege, against religious
fanaticism in many parts of the world today. I wonder if he's still a relevant historical figure for today?
MANTEL: I suppose Cromwell is an illustration of man who has tremendous personal faith. But he also respected faith of others and knew that you
couldn't bully people in or out of belief. Above all, what he was, was a peace keeper. And he kept the peace for most of Henry's reign. The king was
inclined to go to war because (INAUDIBLE) in those days, it was however you demonstrated your glory. But the king said -- well, Cromwell said to the
king time and again, no, you can't afford a war. Wars are not affordable things. You get into a war and you never know where it's going to end. It
can end in your country bankrupt.
Cromwell have been a soldier. He knew the human cost of it. And I think it's this principle and yet pragmatic stance and his skill in negotiation
and in balancing interests that still has something to teach politicians today. Henry was a ruler who was prone to get out of control and think only
of his own military glory. Cromwell constantly reined him back because of practical factors but also because of principle.
AMANPOUR: Do you think because I think you've said that this could be, you know, after the queen, the bigness of the British monarchy, the English
monarchy, you know, could sort of gradually fade away? In other words, you know, it doesn't have a long time in the future to go. Do you still think
MANTEL: Well, it's not a preoccupation of mine and I'm the most reluctant commentator on these affairs. I think that Charles who will be our next
king is a man with a huge sense of responsibility and a wonderful (INAUDIBLE) of service who was been waiting in the wings to do something
for his country for many, many years now. But, of course, it's part of the mystique of monarchy that however old, however tired, however sad, the
monarch must stay in place, that's written into the institution.
I think Charles will be a good king. I think he may revitalize the institution. But I honestly can't see it outliving his children and their
children. It seems to me that it has become in certain ways self-defeating. Not knowing whether to retain this privacy and mystique or open itself up
and become a branch of show business. There are perils either way.
AMANPOUR: And of course, you are, you know, the preeminent modern historical novelist. You have won so many prizes and you have a massive
cult following and, you know, literary following around the world. But I want to go back to that issue of being a woman and being a young woman. You
had -- you know, you've lived a life of chronic pain that I think you've detailed and you've talked about how it began, I think mostly when you were
diagnosed -- or misdiagnosed with endometriosis. And I just wonder whether you would talk us through that a little bit, because from what we read,
what the doctors said to you was just crazy and the way they would talk to a female patient like yourself at that time.
MANTEL: Yes, I'm going back now. I'm going back to round around 1971, I think. I was 19. I took myself off to the doctor -- the student health
service at university and I said, look, I'm tired all the time and I have got really strange pains and I really don't know what's the matter but I'm
convinced that something is the matter. And their reaction was, oh, you're a sensitive young girl. It's all in your mind. And actually, they offered
me tranquillizers. Shipped me off to see a psychiatrist. And the psychiatrist's diagnosis was that I was too ambitious. In other words, I
was too big for my boots. And he suggested I go work in a dress shop.
I was law student at the time. We were in a minority. But I was well on top of everything. I knew what I was doing. I was, well, capable of the
academic work. And then it was the beginning of a long struggle. I had endometriosis but by the time it was diagnosed, I was 27, and it had
destroyed my body. It had certainly taken away my fertility. So, I have no children. I didn't really get the opportunity to think very hard about the
issue because I woke up from surgery and the chance was gone together with a number of body parts.
Unfortunately, this drastic surgery didn't prove a cure. I like grapple with the disease for most of my life and also with the consequences of that
drastic surgery, which put me into a body that was very strange to me, very unfamiliar. The pity of it is that women are still going undiagnosed and
they're not getting the diagnosis until damage is done. And what we urgently need, because endometriosis in many ways a difficult disease to
diagnose because it can display such a variety of symptoms, but we need doctors, teachers, nurses to think about it, to think of it as a possible
diagnosis when a young woman presents in distress and in pain and not ever to dismiss her symptoms as an outgrowth of unfortunate personality.
AMANPOUR: It is extraordinary for me to listen to you saying that and your words, I'm sure, will be of great comfort and education to a lot of people
listening and who listen to you. I just wanted to know, you know, you've done this exhaustive trilogy on "Wolf Hall" trilogy on Thomas Cromwell. Is
there another exhaustive literary work that you want to do or not at this stage?
MANTEL: Well, I've spent the last 12 months working on the stage adaptation of "The Mirror and the Light," the last book in the trilogy. The
two early books were adapted into successful plays, which (INAUDIBLE) for donation and in the west end, then came to the Winter Garden in Broadway.
We have the new play ready to go. It's co-written between myself and the actor, Ben Miles, who is going to play Thomas Cromwell once again. And we
hope to get on stage later this year in London.
I have another novel, not as big as the Thomas Cromwell trilogy, but I think, you're know, it's early days. I have a lot project. If this novel
doesn't succeed then I can move onto something else. I want to maybe try another play, work on some short fiction. I've got more ideas than I've got
years left to execute them.
AMANPOUR: Well, thank you so much for sharing so much with us today, Hilary Mantel.
MANTEL: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: Indefatigable as always. And as we reported earlier from Colombia, the pandemic is exacerbating society's inequalities. Globally,
women are losing their jobs at a higher rate than men. And unemployment is even greater amongst black and Latino women.
"Washington Post" opinion columnist, Helaine Olen, has been tracking this backsliding. And here she is speaking with Michel Martin long-term
MICHEL MARTIN, CNNI CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Christiane. Helaine Olen, thank you so much for joining us.
HELAINE OLEN, OPINION COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thank you for having me on.
MARTIN: So, let's just go back a little bit and just set the table for people who don't know, and I'm not sure who wouldn't know this at this
point, but that, you know, millions of women have either dropped out or been forced out of the labor force during the pandemic. And so, let's just
focus on the United States. It may be a ridiculous question to you, but why is that? Why is it that women have been so -- hit so hard by the current
OLEN: Right. About 4 million women were forced out in the initial stages of the pandemic. Only about 2 million of them have come back to work. And
the reasons are kind of obvious. Part of it, you know, was women's professions tended to be hit a little bit more, like say leisure and
hospitality, women tend to disproportionately work in them.
But there was also, apparently, what we could call the children factor or the housekeeping factor which is the fact that somebody needed to take care
of the children and we knew this fairly early in, you know, schools closed and, you know, for everything but remote learning in most of the country.
And by the summer there was a poll that came out by -- last summer, I mean, summer of 2020 that showed of millennial women.
So, women under the age of 40, a full third of that out of work, we're not out of work because they've lost their job but because they were
responsible for children and need -- someone needed to take care of the children. Child care are closed, schools are closed for adverse learning.
Small children as a rule, I don't know about any children you know, but like kindergarteners do not sit in front of computers for several hours at
a time and, you know, and learn their letters without somebody standing over them. Somebody had to do the work. and that person often turned out to
be the woman.
And there's one other piece of the puzzle to you, which is, of course, elder care. And that's also becoming increasingly burden on women,
especially over the course of the pandemic for very similar reasons. Although, in that case, it's also the fact that some people are now
hesitant to turn to other private arrangement. But this always just disproportionately falls on women.
MARTIN: Now, there are lesser trends around as the economy is starting to be open, as more people are getting vaccinated, there's a lot of sort of
language around how we're talking about this and a lot of policy pushes around how we're adjusting to this sort of -- I don't know what you want to
call this, this next stage of this whole sort of experience.
You wrote a piece for "The Post" the other day and it's titled "A lousy myth about moms, kids and work makes a comeback. Republicans are running
with it." So, what's the lousy myth?
OLEN: The lousy myth is that women are better off for not working or at least in the short-term, this sort of idea of women can temporarily opt
out. And for viewers who don't recall this, in about 15 years ago, there was a very famous "New York Times" story where they profiled these very
high -- I think for the most part, high earning professional, you know, multi credentialed degreed women who had, you know, sort of throwing up
their hands at the workplace. You know, their families were not helping out enough, their husbands were not helping out enough, their work wasn't
flexible enough, their kids needed help. And they said, I'm going to temporarily take a pause out of the workplace. And they called it the opt
out a little bit.
And most of them were fairly certain they'd be able to opt back in either at will or with some rejiggering, but not a huge issue. And when people
study this and when they went to look back years later, what turned out was that opting out was kind of -- sort of women taking responsibility for a
mass systemic economic social failure, which is that there wasn't enough childcare, work hours in the United States, especially for professionals
have gone up, work has gotten less flexible in many ways and that somebody had had to step up and take care of the cats.
And that these women would talk about choice, but as one researcher told me, actually, everything they talked about was constraint, how they
couldn't do everything, how they couldn't do this, how their spouse wouldn't help. And, of course, when they actually tried to resume their
professional lives, you could probably guess what happened next, which is that they had extreme difficulty, many couldn't do it entirely or they had
to change careers often for a much lower paying one.
So, it wasn't really this happy story of choice, you know, that was done for everyone, it was really a sacrifice made by women that was sort of
cloaked in this sort of guise of loving motherhood.
MARTIN: And as policy following this, because one of the things that distinguishes your work is you write about both the macro and micro as it
were. Like you write about individuals and the choices that they are making for whatever reasons they're making. But you also write around a policy
pushes that you say are often behind those, that people don't necessarily recognize are, in fact, behind those.
So, you see a policy following this kind of lifestyle, sort of style section approach toward this.
OLEN: Right. So, there's -- again, there's two tracks going on here, from the left or from Democrats. You know, Joe Biden looked at this ground
situation and, you know, his administration. Saw the millions of women out of work or working part-time and said, you know, we need to help. And this
was in his -- you know, in his proposals when he was running for president and some of it is coming out now. Humans are infrastructure, right. Taking
care of children is part of our infrastructure. Taking care of the elderly is part of our infrastructure.
So, he's proposed everything from, you know, further funds to buttress up senior care to, you know, universal pre-K, to helping lower income families
out of daycare. And this is all part, you know, of his proposals to help us recover from the pandemic.
And then you're seeing the pushback from Republicans along the lines of, well, wait a second here. You know, taking care of children is not
infrastructure, right. Taking care of humans is not infrastructure. I clearly disagree with that. I just have to say that right here.
But, you know, secondarily, you know, the government is getting involved in your family. The government is pushing their choices on your family. The
government is subsidizing their choices on your family. You know, or wants to subsidize their choices so that you are forced to use commercial daycare
and, you know, this is the government stepping in in between the parent and the child, and it's just sort of extraordinary.
You know, and this all sort of feeds into each other.
I don't think the people pushing the opt out line are saying, you know, we're helping Republicans. I mean, I don't mean that at all. But it's
clearly kind of, you know, running in tandem with each other and kind of feeding off of each other in some strange way that.
MARTIN: There is push among Republicans in particular to vastly increase the child tax credit.
MARTIN: Which was increased in the prior tax bill at a time when all Republicans controlled all of the top institutions of government. OK. So,
what's wrong with that? Is that a bad idea?
OLEN: There's nothing wrong with the idea in general. Though I have to say the way Josh Hawley wants to do it, which is, is that single parents get
$6,000 and married parents get $12,000. You know, it's obviously, again, pushing a certain way of living, right. Like I'm not aware that like single
mothers have lower expenses taking care of their children. It would be great if that's true, right?
But, you know, there's -- so, there's nothing really wrong with the idea of that but, A, how it's being done and, B, the language to get around it.
Because the language to get around it is very much the idea that the government, you know, by subsidizing daycare is telling you how to, you
know, run your family. And me giving you money would not be telling you how to run your family, right?
So, it sort of picks up on the same thing. And when you see the articles written, like J.D. Vance wrote something about, you know, families and all
of this in "The Wall Street Journal." The headlined at "The Wall Street Journal" was literally, children are happier when one parent is at home.
MARTIN: But we all know which parent they're talking about.
OLEN: Right. Again, we all know.
MARTIN: Because parent is really code for mom.
OLEN: It's always code for mom. As I've said, it's been code for mom, you know, 1980, 2000 and 2021. I mean, it's mom. And that's who everybody
expects will be at home.
MARTIN: So, the other hand is this big push by Republican governors to revoke or to terminate the additional federal unemployment benefits that
had been passed after a big fight, by the way, to extend them, saying that it's keeping people from going back to work. Are they saying that certain
people should stay home with their kids but not other people staying home with their kids? I mean, given how many family -- single female headed
households there are one would think that a certain percentage of these households are using these unemployment benefits to sustain themselves
until things get sorted out.
OLEN: Some of this frankly is somewhat incoherent, right. It's the sort of Republican dislike of any form of benefits. But there is this idea that
some women should stay at home with their children and some don't deserve to, and this has been there for decades as well, as you're -- you know, as
you're intimating. You know, there's always been this idea that, you know, well, you know, lower income women, you know, they work for virtue or black
women, you know, they're slacking off. You know, that's the old welfare queen myth, right?
And then, of course, you know, the idea that other women, you know, are working for their vacation because they want to take a vacation. And that's
always been part of this language too. So, the idea that you would cut out employment, you know, would be getting at the undeserving women. You know,
the women who, you know, really, you know, to their mind are often people who should be working.
I mean, I know this -- again, it sounds a bit incoherent, but it is kind of incoherent here when you think about it, because it doesn't actually make a
lot a logical sense.
MARTIN: Why do you think there is still so much disagreement about this? One of the -- I was thinking about a conversation I heard a couple of years
ago, it was a conversation in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling around same sex marriage. And one of the -- it was one of the people discussing
this was one of the lawyers who had argued the case, and successfully, right?
And a woman got up and said, gee, you know, why is it that, you know, the LGBTQ community is making so many strides in protecting their rights but
women are still fighting for theirs? And he said, because women don't agree.
OLEN: Right. Well, I mean, it goes back --
MARTIN: And so, I guess the question is, you know, Republican women get divorced just like Democratic women do. Republican women can lose traction
in their careers and have difficulty supporting their families just like Democratic women do, you see. And so, why isn't there more coherence vessel
where that you used around family policy when presumably, you know, families are experiencing many of the same things.
OLEN: I think a lot of it traces back to it. Again, I will point out that most people actually support all of this, right? Even a lot Republicans,
right? But I think it goes back to this idea that women are sort of almost -- for almost all schooled in some ways to put ourselves second or third.
So, we never really prioritize our needs, everything comes first ahead of us.
So, the idea that other people or other organizations or other causes will benefit ahead of us is actually just almost sort of baked in. And as a
result, you know, it ends up other priorities, you know, come over it. And so, progress doesn't get made, the sort of idea is, well, you can wait,
next time, next time, next time, next time. And it never actually happened somehow because next time is there's always something else that's going to
be more important.
And I think we really need to put ourselves first here and put our families first, because that's the key here. It's not just us, right? This is about
all of us. This is our families. This is our country. Children benefit from education when they're smaller. They benefit from better care taking when
they're little. I mean, keep in mind, again, a lot of women have to work, they don't have a choice.
We benefit as a society if women are in a better financial position as they -- you know, as they hit middle age, as they hit old age, as they need to
collect Social Security. I mean, right now, we literally have a situation where women are going to be take a hit when -- in their Social Security 50
years from now potentially and we're not even talking about that. You know, that's going to have societal impacts too ultimately.
So, I mean, I think it's really important that we say, you know, this is yes about women but it's also about all of us. And taking care of women and
making sure they can do the best by their children is going to make our society stronger and better in the end.
MARTIN: So, we've actually seen a lot of stories being written of, you know, highly accomplished, highly paid professional women who are choosing
to opt out and they say they're loving it. They say they like it, it's less stressful, there's less running around, there's less, you know, crazy, the
kids are happier. So, if they want to work less to spend more time with their kids, is there something wrong with that?
OLEN: Well, I would say yes and no is the answer. Obviously, no, right? We live in a society where everybody is allowed their individual choice. But I
will point out several things about these stories. First, the men are all but invisible in these cases. You never hear from the husbands. You don't
know what they think of all of this. You don't know if they wanted this, they didn't want this. You have no idea. I mean, nobody asks them. Nobody
asked them if they considered standing back from their work. I mean, it's just utterly becomes this full-on woman's world, right?
The second is, again, very few of these stories ever wrestle with the long- term implications of it. It's like we all live in this perpetual now. And so, nobody goes back and asks, well, we were here in 2003 and 2004 and we
wrote about this and then we went back and looked at these women and we looked at other women like them, and we found out that wasn't really
totally what was going on. And could this be the same thing that's happening again? And those questions are just simply unasked. It's -- like
it doesn't occur to anybody to wrestle with the implications of all of this and, you know, how this could actually work out.
And the third part of this is that no one seems to ask or very few people, I don't want to say no one, but no one or very few people seem to say,
well, what could we change in work to make the stuff right? I mean, you'll see, well, maybe we should emphasize part-time work more. But like nobody
says, well, what about the fact that, you know, professionals are working 45-to-50-hour weeks? Could we cut back and still be OK. Would that make men
I mean, I know lots of men who are actually quietly unhappy about their workload but they don't feel free to say anything about it. And, you know,
there's just this sort of give -- it's taken as a given that our society is the way it is and it's assumed that we will change our lives to accommodate
it and not that we should change the greater world of work to make it work for all of us.
MARTIN: Helaine Olen, thanks so much for talking with us.
OLEN: Thank you for having me on.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, there is a global reassessment of work and all the habits that's emerging now from this pandemic. And that is it for now.
Thank you for watching and good-bye from London.