What kind of power?

19 October 2005

Resolution 1325 is all about increasing women’s representation and participation in decision making. It’s based on the premise that the political structures we’ve got are ok, it’s just a matter of giving everyone equal access to them, in much the same way as women’s suffrage gave us all access to a ballot paper.

I think it’s important to ask whether the thing we’re fighting for access to is the thing we really want. We’re not free, nor are we empowered, if we only give privileged women the same access as privileged men. We’re not free if we just empower women to run multinational corporations, while still tolerating the obscene status quo in which those corporations have the status of persons and, because of their wealth, more rights, more access to power, more control over our environment, than actual persons.

We’re not free because we elect a woman prime-minister / president / chancellor to the top of a hierarchy in which the real power belongs to those corporations because it is they who are represented, not the ordinary women or the ordinary people of any sort in that country.

That’s why, to me, Resolution 1325 is to a large extent a distraction. I understand and respect the fact that it took a lot of women a lot of work to get it passed, and of course I’m familiar with the argument that you’ve got to battle your way into an institution – the UN, national government, the police force – in order to change it, but I believe that’s the wrong way round.

I think we need to change power to fit our needs rather than fight our way into power and then try to change it. Otherwise it’s a bit like getting ourselves into a spider web and then trying to restructure it from within. The structure of power is stronger than the people who fill the positions within it.

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals

To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.

By adding my name to this campaign, I authorise openDemocracy and Foxglove to keep me updated about their important work.

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