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Interview With Janelle Monae; Interview With Former Prime Minister of Finland Alexander Stubb; Interview With Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt; Interview with "Pay Up" Author Reshma Saujani. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired May 12, 2022 - 13:00 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 giant geopolitical moment, as Finland says it'll apply for NATO membership and Sweden may follow suit, the new world order
Putin didn't want, with former Finnish and Swedish Prime Ministers Alexander Stubb and Carl Bildt.
Then, singer, songwriter, actor and now bestselling author. I'm joined by Janelle Monae, a cultural force of nature, as she turns her hand to science
fiction in "The Memory Librarian."
RESHMA SAUJANI, AUTHOR, "PAY UP: THE FUTURE OF WOMEN AND WORK (AND WHY IT'S DIFFERENT THAN YOU THINK": Moms don't break, but we are broken now.
AMANPOUR: "Pay Up: The Future of Women and Work (And Why It's Different Than You Think)." Author and Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani gives
Hari Sreenivasan her bold plan for America's working women.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
An historic change for a once neutral country which has been driven by its neighbor Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Finland's leaders today said their
country must apply for NATO membership -- quote -- "without delay." They share a 1,300-kilometer border with Russia. And, as expected, the Kremlin
swiftly called the move a threat.
But at a press conference earlier this week with the British prime minister, the Finnish president, Sauli Niinisto, pointed the finger
squarely at Putin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAULI NIINISTO, PRESIDENT OF FINLAND: Well, if that would be the case that we joined, well, my response would be that you caused this.
Look at the mirror.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Meanwhile, neighboring Sweden, which has an even longer history of neutrality, is also expected to make a decision NATO in the coming days.
With me now on set is the former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt and, from Zurich, the former Finnish Prime Minister Alex Stubb.
Welcome, both, to the program.
Let me go straight to you, former Prime Minister. And, of course, the both of you were former foreign ministers at the same time. So you have a lot of
this in common.
You have been a long time proponent, Alex Stubb, of your country, joining NATO. What is your reaction today?
ALEXANDER STUBB, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF FINLAND: Well, I guess I have been waiting for this day for the better part of 30 years.
And in many ways, we could say that it was the Finnish public that took the decision of us joining NATO, and it was caused by Vladimir Putin's attack
on Ukraine. So Finns understand, when security is at threat, it's better to have friends than enemies and never to be left alone again.
So I'm pretty pleased that we're joining NATO.
AMANPOUR: And just quickly, before I turn to Carl Bildt, what do you make of the Kremlin's response? It hasn't been full-throated. What do you make
of their response and what they might do about it?
STUBB: Yes, I think it's actually been quite moderate.
And the reason for that is clear. I think Kremlin -- the Kremlin sees Finnish and Swedish NATO membership as a Nordic solution and, in that
sense, not a radical threat. We will accept, however, hybrid threats in the form of cyberattacks, for instance, on our information technology or home
pages of the Foreign Defense Minister, which went down when Zelenskyy was speaking, or we can see some violations of Finnish airspace, and a lot of
disinformation as well.
But so far, so good. We're not too worried.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me turn to you, Carl Bildt, then, because your government has said that they are very closely monitoring what Finland is
doing, and will take their decision presumably in the next couple of days.
I mean, is that a little bit, I don't want to say disingenuous, but they're clearly not just closely monitoring. They're...
CARL BILDT, FORMER SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER: No, they're more than closely monitoring.
Of course, there's a process going on. There's been a process under way in Finland with the parties and the president and everyone. And they have now
come to that conclusion. The Swedish process is a couple of days behind. But I think you can expect a decision in the next few days. I think the
Monday is going to be the critical day.
The governing Social Democratic Party has to conclude its process. The rest of the political parties have concluded their processes. But I don't think
there's anyone that doubt the conclusion.
Finland is slightly ahead. There are reasons of geography and history that makes that fairly natural that that is the case. But I'm quite convinced
that we will be joining NATO on the same day.
AMANPOUR: And, again, you, as a former prime minister, you were very, very -- a big proponent of Sweden in NATO, right?
We abandoned neutrality when we joined the European Union, together with Finland, by the way, on the same day in 1995, same thing there. Sweden was
somewhat in the lead on the process. And then we have gradually been aligning our security and defense policies also with NATO.
So, in a sense, it's a natural step. It was bound to happen. But, of course, February 24, the earthquake changed all of Europe. And this
decision became not only something for the future, but something that was essential now, by necessity. And it has been taken and will be taken.
It's an earthquake, no question. It is.
AMANPOUR: Alex Stubb, we have talked about historical neutrality in Finland, but that neutrality is essentially since the end of World War II.
And I think Sweden's is -- I mean, you claim to be have been neutral since the Napoleonic Wars.
So, let me just ask you, Alex, what does it mean to move from neutral to NATO?
STUBB: Well, to go back a little bit, you could perhaps say that Finns are quite quick to move when history changes.
So, when we, in 1809, became an autonomous part of Russia from Sweden, we maximized our autonomy. 1917, in the middle of Bolshevik Revolution, we
declare independence. It was a risk, but we did it. 1944. We accept an uncomfortable peace, loose territory in Karelia, from Stalin, but we live
And that's when we go into this pragmatic neutrality. But we drop that immediately in 1992, six months after the Soviet Union collapses. We file
an application to the E.U., and the rest is history. And now we're seeing exactly the same thing in 2022.
Our NATO membership was decided on the 24th of February at 5:00 in the morning, when Putin and Russia attacked Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: So you could say your NATO membership was determined by Putin?
STUBB: I would call the ninth enlargement of NATO Putin's enlargement. Countries number 31 and 32, Finland and Sweden, would not have joined
without this attack. That's for sure.
AMANPOUR: So, Carl Bildt, for you, you obviously know this gentleman very well, Pal Jonson, chairman of the Swedish Parliament's Defense Committee.
He said recently: "For Sweden, not joining NATO has been a question of identity, while, for Finland, it was a matter of geopolitics."
Explain that to us and how -- I mean, Napoleonic Wars, that's a long time ago.
BILDT: That's a long time ago. But Finland has a more complicated history.
And that has to do with, as Alex said, its geographic position. To a large extent, you can say during sort of our time, our generation ,that Finland
has been the exposed country, and we have been the protected country. Finland has been between us and Russian power. And, for a time, of course,
as Alex said, Finland was part of the czarist Russian Empire. It got out of that in 1917.
It had -- it fought wars with Stalin. It had a very sort of difficult period in the late 1940s, where there was risk of Finland going the way of
Czechoslovakia and other Eastern European satellites. Sweden was behind.
But the Swedish neutrality policy during the Cold War period was to a large extent a question of sort of trying to help Finland. We thought that sort
of American position moving too much forward towards Finland would perhaps lead to Stalin moving into Finland. Then Finland's position has improved
and improved and improved during these decades.
And then we go into the E.U. together, and it's only natural that we now move together into NATO as well. And that harmonizes -- as Alex alluded to,
that harmonizes the entire security arrangements in the entire Baltic and Nordic and Northern European area and creates a better stability.
It creates also, which I think is an important point, a greater depth for the defense of the three Baltic states.
AMANPOUR: OK, so that's really interesting, because you're kind of saying it's not so much about you, but it's really also about the Baltic states,
which a lot of people have been very concerned about, that Putin might have turned his forces or his attention towards them.
BILDT: It is about the -- because if there's a war with the Baltic states, it involves us. If there's war with Finland, it involves us. If there's a
war with Norway, it involves us.
So, we are the same. We are one strategic environment. And to be in one organization to plan for that and to deter aggression and create stability
makes a huge amount of difference.
So I think what we are doing now, from the Swedish and Finnish side, is a contribution to the stability of all of Northern Europe. We are not there
to provoke Russia in any sort of way. We are there to deter any sort of adventures that sort of more or less mad people in Moscow might invent at
some point in time.
Alex Stubb, Carl just said mad people in Moscow might invent some kind of future adventures. What would you say? And I'm not asking you to reassure
anybody. But, clearly, Moscow really is concerned when they see U.S. troops or other NATO troops, plus armament, bases and all the rest of it, whether
it's in Poland or the other countries that they're very upset about?
What will joining NATO look like on the ground for Finland and Sweden? You both already have very strong militaries.
STUBB: The reason finish and Swedish NATO membership is a win-win for the alliance is precisely what Carl just said. It actually improves the
security in the region, the Baltic Sea region, the Baltics -- the Nordics, and, therefore, Europe as a whole.
And the reason this enlargement is a no-brainer for NATO is that we are more NATO-compatible than most NATO states themselves. So, Finland has
900,000 men in reserve, 280,000 that could be mobilized. We have 62 F-18s. We just bought 64 F-35s. And we didn't exactly buy those for repellent for
We are -- we an addition to security in Europe. And that's why I don't think there's going to be a problem with NATO. On the other side, I think
Moscow still, to a certain extent, trusts Finland and Sweden. We are a safe pair of hands. And that's why this enlargement, no matter how much noise
there is, is not so dramatic for the Kremlin either.
AMANPOUR: Do you agree, Carl Bildt?
BILDT: I agree with that.
I don't think that you would see sort of big sort of military bases coming into Sweden or coming into Finland. There is not a need for that.
What we will do, we will train more together. We will plan more together. I think we will try to make our contribution to operations elsewhere. That
could be the Baltic states. That could be elsewhere.
So, it's going to be preparations for contingencies as part of deterring any adventures that the Russians might be -- think of. But, as Alex said,
the actual change is going to be fairly limited. And it has to be said that I think the generals in Moscow, the fact that Finland and Sweden are part
of the West doesn't come as a surprise. They are probably already comfortable with that.
AMANPOUR: So what about this other fear that -- I mean, you sort of talked about it, but everybody's concerned about what happens between now or
whenever you both actually formally apply and ratification, actually becoming members of NATO.
The secretary-general has welcomed you guys. They said it will probably be fast-tracked, and interim measures will apply. What does that mean in an
Article 5 kind of world?
BILDT: Well, there has been a fear -- I'm not particularly afraid, but anyhow -- that the Russians will try to do something in order to try to
influence the process before we became -- become actually formally members.
I don't think there's very much they can do, because even if were to do incursions or any sort of stupidities that they might find out that they
should do, it's going to be profoundly counterproductive and have no effect. And we can handle all of that.
But to be on the safe side, I think you will see somewhat more of joint exercises, somewhat more of allied presence in the Baltic Sea than you
normally have just in case. But I wouldn't expect any drama.
And if there's any drama, I think we can handle it.
AMANPOUR: And Alex Stubb, it's very interesting to see the poll numbers in your country, because, before February 24, there was a real minority of
people being polled who wanted to join NATO. Now it's at least 50 percent, if not higher.
Talk to us about that.
STUBB: Yes, it's pretty amazing.
I mean, if you look at the arc of opinion polls from the early 1990s, you're basically talking a fairly stable 50 percent against, 20 percent in
favor. So, I was very much in the minority.
Then, when the war happens, there's an opinion poll which is one day before it starts and two days into the war that switches 180 degrees, so 50 in
favor, 20 against. Then it goes up to 62 percent. And you know what, Christiane?
The last opinion poll that we have is 76 percent of the population in favor of NATO membership and 12 against. And now that the prime minister and
president came out today, I predict that figure to be above 80 percent. And you should compare that to when we joined the E.U., the referendum. We had
57 percent in favor, 43 against.
So, when it's about security, Finns unite, it's very consensual, and we take a decision, and then we will just move on, but an amazing change.
AMANPOUR: It really is. I mean, it's incredible how the whole landscape, I mean, the global landscape, has changed since February 24.
Can I just play for you a little bit of an excerpt of an interview I did with your president here in London a few weeks ago, couple of months ago,
actually, just after -- around the invasion. So this is this is what I asked him and how he responded?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIINISTO: Putin said it a couple of years ago by -- to a Finnish journalist asking that.
He said then that, well, so far, we have seen looking over the border, a Finnish friendly soldier. If you turn NATO, we see an enemy.
So that's their position, and they don't hide it. It's good that we know. But we decide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It's really interesting, that.
I thought it was just such a fascinating insight into your president and also into your national mission at a time like this, because, I think,
certainly, the Kremlin has counted on saying all sorts of things and raising fear in the West and elsewhere.
I just want to ask you what you feel today, more than -- well, nearly two months into this war -- or it nearly three months? It's very long anyway.
Whether you think Putin's threats, in general, still really make a difference to NATO countries?
STUBB: No, I don't think they do.
And I must say, I mean, again, I actually saw that interview, and I sent a message to the president saying it was great. And I think he's doing a
I think we should go back to one crucial moment. And that was the president's New Year's Eve speech. It said that only Finland decides on its
own security. And that was a clear message. And he kept on repeating that. And he repeated that in your interview as well.
And now he has let things take their own course. And once he sees that the population, parties, Parliament, prime minister, government are behind NATO
membership, he says, OK, time to move in.
So I don't think that -- we, of course, take the threat seriously, but we are not excessively worried about in this situation.
AMANPOUR: And, Carl Bildt, the -- let's just talk about the battlefield right now and what's under way.
Obviously, we have seen failures by Russia, certainly around Kyiv. We have seen brutality, war crimes, but we're also seeing a certain amount of
consolidation in the east and to the south. And we hear from, for instance, U.S. intelligence chiefs that they believe Putin is prepared for a long
I mean, you have been involved in war and peacemaking and the rest. How do you see it playing out?
BILDT: Putin is determined that he can't lose, because losing for him means losing virtually everything.
And he is obsessed with something coming out of Russian history, how we must do. There's no compromise.
So he is prepared to go all the way, whatever that means, to mobilize the resources that are necessary. I think we're heading for a fairly lengthy
war of attrition that will be painful, painful for Ukraine, needless to say, painful for Russia as well, because Russia is going to pay a very,
very heavy price long term for this.
But we shouldn't make ourselves an illusion. This man is absolutely obsessed with -- the idea of him to get rid of the threat that he sees
coming from the democratic development of Ukraine. It's a threat to his regime. It's a threat to his vision of a more imperial Russia.
And he see it as his task, in the continuation of Catherine the Great or Peter the Great or whatever, to fulfill that particular vision.
AMANPOUR: And, presumably, both Finland and Sweden will start -- well, join the furnishing of weapons?
BILDT: Well, we do. We do.
BILDT: We do. We send -- Sweden sent 10,000 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine, and we have sent more than that. Finland has sent other things.
And that was really -- if we go back to what really happened, when Sweden started sending weapons to Ukraine, that was really the tipping point,
because then we were part of a conflict where we saw the threat of Russia to Ukraine as a threat to the European security, and we are part of the
So, it's both a question of helping Ukraine with weapons, money and a question of us securing ourselves and helping to secure Europe through NATO
membership. It is all part of the same thing. That really goes back, as Alex said, to February 24.
AMANPOUR: And, Alex Stubb, you -- I think you have -- I think we discussed this before.
When you were foreign minister, you have negotiated or been across the room with Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister. I guess I'm asking you,
following what Carl Bildt just said, do you see any -- any moment or any process or possibility of Putin one day, sooner, rather than later, coming
to the negotiating table?
STUBB: Not really.
And the example that I have is a real-life example. And Carl will remember this, because we were both foreign ministers at the same time. I was
foreign minister of Finland, chairman of the OSCE, and mediated peace in Georgia in August 2008.
There, we were able to get a cease-fire agreement in five days. It ended up in two frozen conflict, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. But why? Because the
stakes were so low, from Putin's perspective, whereas, now, as Carl said, the stakes are too high.
For them -- for him, this is about his legacy. It's about great Russia, which means one language, one religion, and one leader. He wants to
actually be Stalin, and seen like that. And he can't lose face. And he now realizes that the weapons -- in other words, his military, have been so
weak, that they were not able to achieve their mission in 48 hours, as he expected.
So that's why he's in a really difficult situation. I do think -- and I will finish off with this -- we need to find some kind of a segue or bridge
to help him save face at some stage. I don't know how it's going to happen. But he ain't coming to the negotiating table anytime soon.
AMANPOUR: Alex Stubb, Carl Bildt, thank you both very, very much for joining me. Really important geopolitical shifts happening right now. And
it's great to be able to talk to you about what your countries are doing. Thank you so much.
Now to someone who combines many creative forces, landing her on today's cultural front lines, a major talent whose resume reads singer, songwriter,
actor, activist, and now author.
Janelle Monae's first book, "The Memory Librarian," is a sci-fi collection of short stories exploring the power of memory in liberating the oppressed
and outcast, almost always queer black women. And it's inspired by her album "Dirty Computer." She's also set to star next as icon Josephine Baker
in a new TV studio series.
And Janelle Monae is joining me now.
Welcome to our program. Great to have you on.
Tell me a little bit about your book and where you hope it lands and your interest in sci-fi.
JANELLE MONAE, "THE MEMORY LIBRARIAN": Well, I'm so honored to be on your show. I have been following you for quite some time. Thank you so much for
the work that you do and for having me as a guest.
"The Memory Librarian," I'm so proud of. It's a five-story sci-fi short story collection. And I had a very unique and exciting time working and
collaborating with five authors on each story, and this book is from the soil of my album "Dirty Computer," which deals with this totalitarian
society literally taking people's memories away from them, and giving them new identities, so that they can manipulate and control them.
But these protagonists, who are mostly queer women, nonbinary folks, they fight back.
AMANPOUR: And, listen, your book has landed on "The New York Times" bestseller. So, congratulations on that.
MONAE: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And as you say and as we said, you just said you focus mostly on nonbinary, on black, and on women.
Tell me about that. Tell me about your history, your experience and what's led you to work so hard and publicly for that group.
MONAE: Well, I grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, born and raised, and I grew up to working-class parents.
So my mom's last occupation, she was a janitor, and my dad was a trash man, and my grandmother served food for the county jail for 25 years. So, in my
heart and in my spirit, I always want to protect marginalized working-class folks.
And being queer, being nonbinary myself, imagine if I didn't have my platform. Imagine if I wasn't making my own money to support myself and I
was living in a family that rejected me or living in a family or a community or somewhere that did not accept me for who I was.
Imagine that. And so my natural instinct has always been to stand up to bullies and to protect the ones who are trying to just live in love and in
peace and in their authentic selves.
AMANPOUR: So I'm going to get back to the book in a moment.
But, based on what you have just been saying, I can't help but go right the way back to "Say Her Name," which you pioneered in honor and respect of all
the women who were killed unjustifiably in the United States. Obviously, many, many focus on -- rightly, on all the men who are killed too.
But it was really interesting. And it was picked up also by many other cultural leaders and people on stage. So, I'm just going to play a little
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It's really powerful to see it again.
And you did this several years ago. Tell me or take us back to the moment that you felt you had to put that out.
MONAE: Well, I think this was around when George Floyd -- and God rest his soul and my love to his family -- when he was murdered by the police
And, also, there was something going on with Breonna Taylor. God rest her soul and bless her family. And I had an opportunity to follow Kimberle
Crenshaw, who is over -- she coined the term "Say her name," because she and her team did not feel like -- and a lot of us agreed -- that the women
who were being murdered due to police, the abuse of power in the police force, were getting the same attention as the men.
And so "Say Her Name" is meant to just give the closure. When a family can see that somebody is saying their loved one's name and the news is covering
it, and people know their story, there is some closure that can happen.
Justice may not be served. But just that little bit of amplification on the story really, really does help the family. And so that's what we wanted to
do. We wanted to come together with all the mothers of the movement and work with Kimberle Crenshaw. I'm not leading the movement. I just saw an
opportunity to help shed light on the stories of the many black and brown nonbinary women who have been murdered at the hands of the police and did
not get the public attention that we felt they deserved.
AMANPOUR: And do you think their memory and that memory and the whole idea of memory is under assault today?
MONAE: I'm sorry. Can you repeat that? I think you went out a little bit for me.
AMANPOUR: Just wanted to see whether you thought their memories and the idea of memory -- and you have written the book, "The Memory Librarian" --
that the idea of memory is under threat today in the United States?
MONAE: Yes, I think that there is definitely an agenda for erasure.
I mean, look at what's going on with Greg Abbott, DeSantis. These are governors who are saying that you in public -- in schools that teachers and
students can't even talk about the LGBTQI+ community. You can't talk about it in books. Nobody -- you don't -- they don't want to talk about Critical
Race Theory or race.
This -- these are real experiences for our ancestors, real experiences for us as complete human beings. And erasure is happening right underneath our
noses, and it's being done through lawmaking. And part of our memories -- or our memories -- I'm not going to say part, but our memories define the
quality of our lives.
And I think that, when you strip somebody's memory, you strip their identity. You strip them as human beings.
AMANPOUR: Janelle, can I go back to some of the wonderful films that you have done as well, as well as your music, and now this book?
"Hidden Figures," you were in that. And that was an amazing film. Tell me about what it meant to play that character, what that film meant to you.
MONAE: Oh, my goodness.
Every holiday season, I can't get away from getting a call or text, like: I just watched "Hidden Figures" in the living room with my family.
I think that it is going to always be just a classic, a classic American story about heroic African-American women who helped get our astronauts
into orbit, into space. And without their minds, without their geniuses -- their genius, we wouldn't even have that story as Americans, you know?
So, I am just forever honored to have portrayed the great Mary Jackson, and being able to highlight the stories of so many hidden figures.
AMANPOUR: And "Harriet," of course, about Harriet Tubman. What did it mean to you, you know, to play that phenomenal character?
MONAE: I didn't play Harriet.
AMANPOUR: No, but in that film. Sorry.
MONAE: In that film. Oh, OK. It was great. It was a beautiful, I think, story about, you know, two women, because my character was already free.
And so, you know, she had an opportunity to be able to help Harriet kind of integrate back into, you know, society and teach her things. And they had a
really loving relationship, you know, as two black women. And I thought that was beautiful to display that.
AMANPOUR: And everybody -- well, many people, you know, know about Josephine Baker. And I am wondering what, you know, inspired you to take on
that role in this upcoming series. We are looking at amazing pictures of you that some have said a Josephine Bakeresque at the Met Gala, the Met
AMANPOUR: -- that just happened. Talk to us about her. Because she was such an incredible, you know, force of creative genius. And she had to
actually, as you know better than I, leave the United States to be able to actually work and be taken seriously as a black artist.
MONAE: Well, Josephine Baker has always been, I felt, a part of my DNA. You know, whenever I think about her and just her fearlessness, her -- you
know, during a time where women couldn't even open bank accounts and they were treated as third- or fourth-class citizens. She was so liberated. She
exercises her agency. You know, she was body positive. She, you know, was bisexual. She was bold. She was brave. And she has always been in my heart
and always -- whenever I have felt, you know, down or like I don't have power, I can look at her story and the time in which she lived and what she
was able to accomplish.
And I am so honored that I get to partner with A24, along with my team "Wonderland," and Jennifer Yale, who brought the story to me, to also
highlight not just her as this iconic performer, but our story is going to center around her being a spy and helping the French resistance takedown
Hitler during World War II.
So, a lot of people do not know that story. And so, I am looking forward to shedding light on her, in the cafe society and all of her glamour. But
also, her being a hero and showing up for a place like Paris during that time who welcomed her when Americas didn't.
AMANPOUR: Wow. That was amazing. I hadn't realized that part of a history. That is going to be so interesting. Of course, in the context that we live,
you know, today with the incredible resistance that we are seeing in Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: Janelle Monae, thank you so much for being with us. Congratulations on your book and we look forward to your next work coming
out in that series. Thanks so much.
Now, for the many women who climb all the way up the ladder but still can't quite crack that ceiling, it is time for the workplace to pay up. That's
the title of author and activist Reshma Saujani's new book, which addresses the burnout and inequity harming working women today. Saujani sat down with
Hari Sreenivasan to discuss the ongoing misconceptions around feminism in the office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane thanks. Reshma Saujani, thanks so much for joining us.
What's the last couple of years been like for moms? What does the data show us?
RESHMA SAUJANI, AUTHOR, "PAY UP": I mean, the data shows us that we are burnt out and exhausted. You know, when we started the pandemic, you know,
our mental health was in a good place. But now, it's in the toilet. You know, we have seen this severe amount of job loss. You know, that's not
even accounting for the amount of women who down shifted their careers.
You know, I've had women who say to me, you know, I was studying to be a nurse, I was saving up to do that. And now, I had to like put that dream
aside, and I'm Uber driving right now just to pay the rent. They're exhausted. They're tired. And all they want is some help. Some recognition
that they've fulfilled a patriotic duty over the past two years by keeping their families together and thereby, keeping this country together.
So, they just want to be seen. They just want to be respected. They want to be valued. And I don't think that's a lot to ask for in this moment. It's
the right thing to do.
SREENIVASAN: You point out that -- according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the end of 2019, women actually had more payroll jobs, and
despite things that are still structurally unequal, there were so many women in the workforce now in sure (ph) pandemic, what happens?
SAUJANI: Yes. When we started the pandemic with 51 percent of the labor force. And then, you know, we have the pandemic. And I know what happened
for me and so many moms is that, you know, when schools closed, you know, that was really the breaking point for so many women. Because, so many
families use schools as daycare.
So, now, schools are closed. Half the daycare centers are shut down. You can't rely on your elderly parents who may have been helping you kind of
put it together. And so, you have no safety net. And your home schooling your kid while you're trying to maintain your full-time job. And so, this
was the breaking point for so many women. And you literally saw millions of women exit the workforce.
You know, our labor market participation, you know, in that December of 2020 was back where it was in 1989, and we still have been recovered. And
so, I wrote an op-ed. I said, we need a marshal time for moms because it feels like we're got blown out cities. And when I talk to the moms in my
PTA, you know, what we needed was pretty basic, you know, we needed paid leave. The United States is the only industrialized nation that doesn't
offer paid leave.
We need affordable childcare. Most Americans pay more for their childcare than their mortgage. You know, we need schools to open up safely. You know,
we needed women who had lost their jobs in the pandemic. If you think about so many women, so many women of color -- they were working in retail,
education, health care, jobs that were automated, you know, because of the pandemic. And there is no national re-training program to help them get
back to work. Even though almost half of families, the sole breadwinner are women. So, when, you know, they lose their jobs, the entire family, you
know, falls into poverty.
And, you know, finally, we needed to get compensated for our unpaid labor. You know, part of the problem, Hari, is that two-thirds of the caretaking
work, the domestic work is done by women. So, before you even start your job, you've done two and a half jobs. And so, we're constantly negotiating,
doing all of this unpaid labor with doing all the paid labor that we do, and it's untenable. And it's not like that in other countries.
SREENIVASAN: What was that moment where you kind of had your reckoning? Because you talk about the fact that, look, you are one of the lucky ones
who had support, who has a husband who was trying to help, who had childcare, when did it become too much?
SAUJANI: You know, I found myself in the pandemic, I just had my second child, Psy (ph). I was -- you know, had a kindergartner at home. I was
running the largest women and girl's organization in the world. And so, here I am trying to save my nonprofit, take care of my newborn, you know,
homeschool my six-year-old, and we're in the middle of the pandemic when all I want to do is keep my family alive.
And so, I looked at my leadership team, which was mostly female, you know, of working parents, you know, with little kids, and there was just no
support. And I think, so, for so many of us we were just trying to hang on. And I think this feeling -- I think for the school closures, Hari, the way
they made that decision.
You know, America has time and use surveys. And so, we kind of knew in March, April and May who was doing the homeschooling, who was balancing
their full-time jobs with full-time caretaking. We knew it was women. And so, when we knew to close the schools and to do it in a way that, again, as
a kindergartner, I couldn't just be like, hey, Sean, log yourself onto Zoom while I take this call. Like I had to be there and do it with him.
And so, we knew that women going to have do that, and we still did it without even a thought to the ramifications on their life. And now, women
are in crisis. Two years later, Hari, you know, 51 percent of mothers say their anxious and depressed. You know, the CDC released a report saying the
two subgroups that are suffering for the most anxiety and depression are young people and moms. Moms don't break, but we are broken now because of
the past two years have broken us.
You know, we, once again, have an opportunity in Washington right now to get childcare as part of the package. You know, 66 percent of Americans
say, like, it matters to them -- you know, in swing states, it matters to them whether the congressional official is going to be supporting
childcare. So, you know, we have got to keep fighting in this moment and pushing our elected officials, Republicans and Democrats, to do the right
thing, because moms are watching. And I promise you, you will pay the price in the ballot box if you do not pass childcare.
SREENIVASAN: Employers, some of them, are going to come back and say, look, we've increased our working from home flexibility, but you're saying
that's not all the flexibility that you're asking for, it's a different type of empowerment?
SAUJANI: Yes. I mean, I think it's a wholesale rebuilding of the workforce. You know, we've built workforces for, you know, a man who had a
stay-at-home partner. We didn't build workplaces for a single mom, a woman of color. And you always should build for the most vulnerable. I certainly
did that for Girls Who Code.
And I think the opportunity here is, you know, yesterday, we released a report, you know, with McKenzie, you know, making the case that childcare
is a business issue. And we released a national business childcare coalition of companies who get it because we are still in the throes of the
great resignation. 4 million are quitting every month. And we surveyed 1,000 parents, and half of the women who left the workforce during the
pandemic left because of childcare.
So, if you want to get them back and you want to get women back in a way that may just not -- do they just, you know, survived but they thrive, you
got to support them with childcare. We have to pay for childcare. Subsidize it, offer childcare benefits. You know, we offer museum memberships and we
pay for people's IVF, but we got to pay for their childcare.
SREENIVASAN: Along with paying for childcare, what does that reimagined workplace look like when it's not designed around a man?
SAUJANI: Right. You know, like I said, it includes childcare, it includes flexibility and remote working. You know, Hari, workdays are 9:00 to 5:00,
but school days are 8:00 to 3:00, that doesn't make sense. You know, in this day and age, again, where you need two people, you know, when you have
a two-person family, is to basically be participating in the workforce. So, we got to rethink that. We have to think about the execution of paid leave.
It's not enough for companies just to tout with that they offer paid leave. But the question that they have to ask themselves are, are they encouraging
or even incentivizing men to take it too? You know, I know so many dads -- and here's the thing, people always to me, Reshma, how do men feel about
"Pay Up"? What's your response from them? And I always say, they're with me too. They want the exact same things.
So many dads over the past two years, you know, they didn't have to commute two hours, you know, a day to work. So, they got to take their son to
school. They got to play soccer with them. They got to take care of them and it felt good. And we know that when men engage in caretaking work, you
know, it lowers the rate of diabetes, of heart attacks, right? It's good for them.
And so -- but so many dads I talk to, their gaslit at work when they take paid leave or they -- when they too want to, you know, fight for
flexibility and remote work. And so, we have to stop that. We need corporate policies that actually encourage and incentivize men to be part
of the, you know, caretaking structure.
You know, our goal for every company should say, how do I get my employees to get to 50/50 percent of domestic work at home? How do I create corporate
policies that are going to incentivize that caretaking work rather that penalize it? Because right now, many companies actually penalize man when
they participate in caretaking work?
SREENIVASAN: You also take, you know, pains to say, hey, listen, we have law in the books so that there is not discrimination against women or
against moms or pregnancies, but there is still antibias that happens, anti-mom bias that happens in the workplace?
SAUJANI: Absolutely. I mean, think about the pay gap. You know, we love to think about the pay gap as a gender gap, but it's not, it's a motherhood
penalty. You know, the pay gap is between mothers and fathers in the workforce. In fact, the largest pay gap is between childless women and
You know, right now, in 22 states, women, childless women are making more than men. That is amazing, but that is not what the pay gap -- with the
gender pay gap is about. Every company should literally go in and, you know, audit their payroll to see where they are punishing mothers for being
mothers and root it out.
You know, when you are a mom and you take one year off, you know, you lose 40 percent of your income. And this is -- I mean, so many moms who had two
downshift their careers or take a break, again, this -- the two past few years because they had supplement, you know, their paid leave or for unpaid
labor are going to pay a price when they re-enter the workforce.
And so, this is a fixable. You know, this is solvable. But, yes, you know, while we do have some legal protections, we still do not have protections
against mothers who are doing caretaking. They can still get fired for that.
SREENIVASAN: One of the ideas that you put forward both in your memo awhile back and in the book is trying to value $1 figure value the work
that is happening at home.
SAUJANI: And that's worth, you know, $800 billion. I've spent (ph), you know, a survey that basically indicates that. Melinda Gates has talked
about this, that women do two and a half jobs of unpaid labor. So, you know, that is work. You know, when you are cooking and cleaning and
figuring out whether the diaper bag is packed and making sure your view doctor's appointments, all of that is cognitive labor, a mental load that
so many of us carry on top of doing the full-time job that we are doing.
You know, right now, Hari, we have the lowest birth rate in 50 years. So, many young women look at me and they say, no thank you. And they don't want
to have kids because it is not affordable. It is not respected. And so, other nations have something called the parental income. The U.K. has it.
Canada has it. Of course, the Swedes have it. And so, when you have a child, you get a check from the government because that is acknowledging
that that work is work.
You know, we have this in a form of the child tax credit until we let it expire but over 40 billion kids in poverty. You know, in this country, we
do not value -- we like to say we are country of family values. No, we are not. We don't value parenting. We don't value caretaking. We think it is a
personal problem that you have to solve. That is why there is so much resistance from my policy sector, you know, against, again, having
affordable childcare, passing paid leave, you know, making sure that we have a child tax credit. There is so much resistance to that.
You know, Joe Manchin says this is not work. You should only get a child tax credit if you are working in the workplace, as if the work that I do
alone is not work. And that is the shift that we have to make.
SREENIVASAN: What do you think the prospect is, even in the Biden administration, for getting some of the things that you are asking for
SAUJANI: Look, I'm going to keep fighting to the, you know, very last second. And we have the opportunity, you know, right now to get childcare,
you know, in a reconciliation bill. And I know there are two senators that are really fighting hard for that.
But the reality is, is that I think that elected officials have made it clear that moms, women, are not a priority, you know, are not something
that they put front and center, our labor, you know, our mental health does not have value for them. And it is an indication for me as an activist, you
know, as a mother, that we have to fight, that we have to turn our rage into power.
You know, we see this with what's happened, you know, with abortion. Six out of 10 women who get an abortion are mothers. Half of them are mothers
who already have two children. The reason why we need control over our reproductive rights is because we live in a country, you know, that ould
rather force birth than offer paid leave, affordable childcare, you know.
And so, this is all interconnected and we have to see it as interconnected and we have to keep fighting and pushing. And, you know, we -- in 2022, we
have not made the progress that I would have hoped that we would have made. You know, for a long time, I was shocked. I thought that the first bill
that they would pass is paid leave. The first bill they would have passed is childcare. But it is not a priority. But, you know, again, until it is
over, over, we have to keep fighting for it. But I am turning to the private sector and asking them to step up, you know, while we wait and
fight for our government to do the right thing.
SREENIVASAN: Are you optimistic?
SAUJANI: Am I optimistic? No, I am heartbroken.
SREENIVASAN: Do you think that the private sector will step up and fill this gap or will we have another sort of patchwork where companies that
have the means will try to do better and most companies that don't won't because there is no regulatory framework that incentivizes or penalizes
SAUJANI: Look, I think the opportunity is that we are in a talent war. And companies are desperate to fill those jobs. And again, people keep leaving,
and they are not leaving because they don't want to work. They are leaving because they do not want to work for you. And they are shopping. You know,
that is what we found in our survey with McKenzie is that they are looking -- they're literally shopping. 70 percent of women that have children under
the age of five said that whether the company offers childcare is a huge factor for them. And they would go work for a company that did over one
So, I think companies are recognizing this. And this is why, you know, as we've launched our national business child care coalition, you know, we've
gotten so many companies to stand up, you know, who are doing incredible things. And so, again, when we announced this yesterday in "The New York
Times," like we were like overwhelmed with the response of companies being, like, me too, sign me up. I am doing this. I'm thinking about doing this.
How do I figure this out? Because there is an alignment. You know, there's alignment in terms of what companies need to do for business reasons and
what parents actually need.
So, I have a lot of faith. And, listen, I know you know me, like, I am on a mission to make sure that every single company in the next three to five
years is offering some sort of childcare benefits, because that is the only way that we get to equality. Childcare is at the center of it.
And, you know, far too often, you know, we have women just make unconscionable choices that is not right. You know, I think about my
mother. You know, I was a daughter of refugees. And my mom could not afford the $50 a week for childcare. So, I was a latchkey kid from the time I was
10 years old. And my sister would pick me up in my middle school and we would literally just run home. Go in the house, lock the door.
And I think about how my mother felt every day. At 3:45. Thinking about the fact that her babies had to go home and take care of themselves, the fear
that she had. So many parents are making unconscionable choices because they have to work, because they want to work, because they need to work.
So, why are we making it so hard for them? It does not make sense.
SREENIVASAN: The book is called "Pay Up: The Future of Women and Work and Why It's Different Than You Think." Author Reshma Saujani, thanks so much.
SAUJANI: Thank you for having me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And next, with the U.S. Supreme Court seemingly set to rollback women's human rights even further and even the rights to work with Roe v.
Wade, some state leaders are taking matters into their own hands to protect a woman's right to choose. Correspondent Ed Lavandera reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): If the Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade, it will cement America's political fault lines in a way
not seen in more than 50 years.
Colorado State Representative Dafna Michaelson Jenet says she's bracing for a post Roe v. Wade world. Her own experience makes her fear what will
DAFNA MICHAELSON JENET, COLORADO STATE-HOUSE DEMOCRAT: Taking away abortion rights and abortion services and abortion care puts women's lives
at risk, period.
LAVANDERA (voiceover): The Democratic lawmaker says that she was 20 weeks pregnant when her baby's heartbeat stops. She says, she was sent to an
JENET: I was already bleeding and my doctor was afraid that I could hemorrhage and die. What I think is important about my story and that
people don't understand is that abortion care is a part of pregnancy care.
LAVANDERA (voiceover): The league Supreme Court draft opinion suggest abortion rights will be left to individual states. This is what the country
would look like according to analysis by the Guttmacher Institute, a group supporting abortion rights. 16 states in the District of Columbia have laws
protecting abortion rights. But at least 26 states are ready or will likely move to outlaw abortion access. 13 of those states have a so-called trigger
laws designed to immediately ban abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned
LAVANDERA (on camera): We're going to have this patchwork of different states, different laws, different standards. Are you comfortable with that?
THREESA SADLEY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, RAFFA CLINIC: I would love for there to be all states where abortion didn't exist in our country. I realize
that's not where we're headed.
LAVANDERA (voiceover): Theeresa Sadler is the director of an East Texas clinic offering counseling and medical service to pregnant women, offering
alternatives to abortion. She says she was inspired to do this work because when she was 19, she had an abortion. A choice she regrets.
Last year, Texas lawmakers passed a law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
SADLEY: The women that were seeing that they seem more panicked and angry because there is a shorter timeframe.
LAVANDERA (on camera): How much more panicked and scared are these women going to be when it's illegal?
SADLEY: A lot of our women, once that is decide to be illegal, it goes off the table for them. They're rule followers, for lack of a better world. And
so, I think -- my hope is that some of the panic goes away.
LAVANDERA (voiceover): In the states with trigger laws, abortion access will also look very different. Five states have different versions of laws
that would allow abortions in cases of rape, incest or if the life of the mother is in danger. Eight states will only allow abortions in cases where
the life of the mother is in danger. But all of this will likely have one clear effect for states where abortion will remain legal.
JENET: We are going to have a lot of people traveling to Colorado to be able to get that safe legal abortion from all the states that surround does
that do not have safe and legal abortion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The situation shaping up across the United States from Ed Lavandera.
And finally, tonight, an image nobody has seen before. Feast your eyes on Sagittarius A Star. The black hole at the center of our galaxy which is the
Milky Way. It took years for a group of hundreds of researchers to get this picture, which shows a bright ring surrounding the darkness, the telltale
sign of the black hole shadow. While it may look small here, it is actually 4 million times bigger than our massive sun. And the group is already
working on next generation instruments to get moving images of the black hole, to continue the quest across the boundary of the unknown.
And that's it for now. Remember, you can always catch us online, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.