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Meet the Author Session with Michael Kaufman, author of The Time Has Come: Why Men Must Join the Gender Equality Revolution at the 2019 OECD Forum.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Can I just begin by saying that I am so delighted to be introducing a male champion of gender equality. Michael is one of the foremost Ambassadors for men to join the effort to empower women.
He is the co-founder of the White Ribbon Campaign—the largest international network of men working to end violence against women.
For decades he has been an advisor on gender equality to the United Nations, governments, NGOs, schools, and workplaces around the world.
His new book, The Time Has Come: Why Men Must Join the Gender Equality Revolution, is a timely manifesto for why men must take a stand in the fight for gender equality, and a reminder of everything society has to gain from it, including what men have to gain.
Michael, this goes to the core of the OECD’s work on gender.
For decades, the OECD has been applying the gender lens across policy areas, designing, developing and delivering the best policies to advance equality. This includes non-discrimination laws; dual parental leave; policies related to taxes, infrastructure, environment; and promoting gender representation in the high ranks of the public and the private sectors, including through quotas and targets.
We have child policies with excellent impact in terms of supporting women to work, and we have led the charge with gender neutral text books. We have brought this to the G20 with the 25×25 gender target in 2014, to help bring 100 million women into the workforce, and more recently with the findings on Bridging the Digital Gender Divide in 2018. And we are constantly tracking progress on all these issues.
However, change is very slow, and it is low because the first thing that has to change is our mindset. The gender stereotyping and cultural norms, what is good for a girl and what is good for a boy, and the expectations societies put in girls are a major obstacle for change.
And this is where the story of men is so relevant and I would like to thank Michael.
I was not a gender champion a decade ago, but when you get to know the facts, it’s about nothing more than fighting for what is fair.
But my conclusion is similar to what Michael tells us in his book. The same cultural norms that hold women behind, put a lot of pressure on men to conform to ideas and ‘rules’ about masculinity that prevent them having more meaningful lives.
An OECD study on “engaging boys and men” concluded that when fathers spend more time at home, there are great benefits: fathers’ involvement has a positive effect on children’s academic performance as well as on their behavioural, social, and emotional wellbeing.
Fathers who spend more time caring for and being with their children are also more satisfied with their lives than those who engage less.
Once when I was in Japan I was addressing a mostly male audience, and when I was asked something about gender, given the context, I just said that more humane working hours, and time to enjoy your children was good for men and women.
But getting the policy settings right involves a wide range of measures. OECD evidence on masculinities shows that of course family friendly policies, including paid parental leave are key.
But it’s also important to change curricula, including for early childhood education, to stop gender stereotypes even before they can take hold. It’s also important to promote media and awareness-raising campaigns to challenge stereotypes, including in adverts.
Michael, now I pass the floor to you, changing stereotypes is the core of your book, so please we look forward to hearing from you about why should men join the gender equality revolution?
Follow-up question 1:
What will it take to change these masculinities and the role models for men so that we can really build better more liveable societies?
Follow-up question 2:
How do we push back on the push back against women rights, as the UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka would say?
Follow-up question 3:
We’ve seen enormous changes in women’s lives over the past fifty years. Are we seeing any comparable changes among men?
Follow-up question 4:
There’s been a backlash against women’s right going up to the highest levels of government. Are you optimistic about the future of gender equality?
Remarks as delivered in Paris, France at the 2019 OECD Forum. Opening remarks for the panel on “Towards a New Societal Contract” with panelists:
Trade Union membership and Collective Bargaining Coverage
Facilitating the emergence of new forms of social dialogue and accompanying the efforts of unions and employer organisations to expand their membership – also to non-standard workers – will be critical.
On the situation of the Middle Class
Thank you to Sharon Armstrong – Chargée d’affaires at the Canadian Permanent Delegation to the OECD. I am grateful to Canada and to Deputy Minister Kennedy for the support they provided to the OECD for this work on this critical health emergency unfolding across countries, which is the opioid crisis.
I am grateful that we have this opportunity to discuss it together today, to look at the scale of the problem, the root causes and the policy solutions.
The report we are releasing today – Addressing problematic opioid use in OECD countries – paints a very stark; a very worrying; a very tragic picture. A major opioid crisis has emerged over the past few years, especially in North America, which is devastating families and communities.
There are a number of factors that have fueled this crisis.
First, it has not occurred in a vacuum but in a specific context. Social and economic conditions, particularly of vulnerable groups of the population, have contributed to the opioid crisis. A recent study in the United States found that as county unemployment rates increase by one percentage point, the opioid death rate per 100 000 rises by 3.6%.
However, causality is complex, with some studies suggesting a reverse causality, claiming that it is problematic use that leads to an increase in unemployment. Clearly we need to get a better understanding of the forces at work.
The report also highlights the lack of housing as a factor, showing that an unstable housing situation increases problematic use of opioids and other drugs by preventing people from accessing treatment and exacerbating psychiatric symptoms.
Without a doubt, a key factor has been the increase in prescription and over-prescription of opioids for pain management.
The estimated amount of prescription analgesic opioids that is used annually has increased over the past 15 years in OECD countries. The sharpest increase happened in the 2000s, when a growth of around 58% was observed between 2002 and 2007!
The second contributing factor is a growing illicit drug market – which has greatly increased the availability of cheap and high-purity illicit opioids.
Finally, the crisis is also a result of limited access to preventive actions and treatments to minimize the terrible consequences of Opioid Use Disorder. And of the stigma and unemployment and housing problems suffered by these persons.
The message of this report is clear: Opioid Use Disorder needs to be considered a chronic health condition and we need to treat the opioid crisis as a public health crisis with an integrated people-centred set of policies.
More specifically, countries need to prevent overuse of opioids with actions to steer the behavior of patients and prescribers, while providing adequate access to pain management treatment and information about problematic use.
Of course, we have to look at the role opioid manufacturers have played in escalating the crisis. During the late 1990s and the 2000s, opioids manufacturers conducted marketing campaigns and funded third party advocacy groups, targeted at physicians, patients and policymakers, downplaying the problematic effect of opioids and opposing tighter regulations. We have to get the regulatory settings right to protect people from harm.
Countries need to improve treatment received by people with Opioid Use Disorder by strengthening the integration of health services, social policy interventions – such as unemployment and housing support – and criminal justice systems. Finally, there is a need for better research and strong health information systems.
It is urgent to take decisive action to stop the tragic loss of life and address the terrible social, emotional and economic costs of addiction with better treatment and health policy solutions.
I look forward to hearing about today’s discussion and the national perspective on what can be done to end this terrible crisis.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to celebrate this great school’s 30th anniversary by looking to the future.
The philosopher Søren Kierkegaard said that “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards”.
So to talk about the future evolution of the world order, we have to understand where we are coming from.
First, we have to recognise that the recovery is struggling: the OECD has revised down its growth projections for almost all G20 economies. Trade tensions are intensifying: global trade growth last year dropped to 4% from 5¼% in 2017. And growth in China will moderate to around 6% by 2020.
Second, we have to recognise that the geo-economic compass is recalibrating. The world economy’s centre of gravity is shifting south and east. The OECD share of world GDP, which stood at over 60% at the turn of the century and about 50% ten years ago, is now below 45%. This is why remaining an open, relevant and welcoming Organisation with an effective accession process is vital.
Thirdly, we must recognise that the policies, models and approaches we have been promoting have failed to deliver sufficiently for people. This is contributing to fuel a crisis of trust in governance which has translated into very concerning electoral outcomes.
Let’s look at some of numbers from the OECD.
The income gap in the OECD between the top and bottom deciles has grown over the past three decades in most OECD countries. The average disposable income of the richest 10% of the population is now around nine and a half times that of the poorest 10% across the OECD, up from seven times in the 1980s.
Inequality of wealth is even more pronounced: the top 10% holds half of total wealth while the bottom 40% holds only 3%.
Social mobility is stalling. The OECD’s Broken Social Elevator report shows that in an average OECD country, it would take around four to five generations or 150 years for children from a family in the bottom earnings decile to reach the level of mean earnings.
I just launched the OECD’s report “Under Pressure: The Squeezed Middle Class”. It revealed that the median income in the OECD has grown a third less over the last three decades than the average income of the richest 10% and half of middle-income households struggle to make ends meet.
Most people feel they need more support from their government: The OECD’s “Risks that Matter” study found that 70% of respondents believe that government should be doing more to ensure their economic and social security.
The digital revolution is bringing additional anxieties about the future: The OECD estimates 14% of jobs are at high risk of automation, and an additional third face changes, with the low-skilled most at risk.
So we are in a situation where people have lost faith in the core tenets of the post-war global order and they are scared for their futures and their children’s futures.
Spurred on by populists, who exploit this sense of distrust, anger and betrayal with false promises and narratives of blame, people are turning their back on globalisation, on multilateralism, even on experts and academics!
We are in a paradox: never has multilateralism been so essential to address the inherently cross-border challenges of our interconnected world; and yet never has it been so under attack.
So where do we go from here? To save our multilateral system, we must improve it. And to improve it, we must ensure that it works to the benefit of all.
The OECD has been reflecting on this since the creation of our New Approaches to Economic Challenges Initiative (NAEC) in 2012. This is an organisational-wide effort to challenge our models and assumptions and upgrade our analytical frameworks.
We need to move away from simplistic neoliberalism – from general equilibrium models and rational agents. We saw with the crisis the inadequacy of those models. They did not capture the complex interconnections and contagion mechanisms in the global economy and they failed to understand that shocks do not always come from outside. The system itself produces the shocks that destabilise it.
We need more granular information, data and metrics to be able to check how policies will inter-react and impact different income groups, communities, regions and firms. We need to get away from growth first and distribute later, or clean later. We need to include equity considerations ex-ante, not ex-post.
This goes to the heart of the OECD’s work today. Let me just give a few broad lines:
At our Ministerial Council Meeting (MCM) last year on “Reshaping the Foundations of Multilateralism for more Responsible, Effective and Inclusive outcomes” we presented the OECD’s Framework for Policy Action on Inclusive Growth, with a dashboard of 24 indicators to help empower the people, places and firms that have been left behind.
The OECD’s Inclusive Growth Framework and Well-Being Framework aim to put people at the centre. Korea is currently testing the first inclusive growth country study and New Zealand is implementing the world’s first Well-Being budget this year. Where they lead, others will follow.
We are also getting business on board with the B4IG Platform.
We are helping countries harness the digital transformation through our Going Digital initiative, which offers an integrated policy response across seven dimensions [improving access, boosting use, unleashing innovation, ensuring quality jobs, promoting social prosperity, strengthening trust, and fostering openness].
We will go into this with Leaders at our Ministerial next month, so expect major outcomes.
Key for this agenda is to give people the right skills, not just for the future of work, but for the world of tomorrow – a world of universal connectivity, ubiquitous social media and fake news. This is why the OECD is creating the PISA Global Competence Framework to promote critical thinking, tolerance and socio-emotional skills and why we are looking at issues like the effects of the media on children.
We are also working to make the global order fairer, by tackling corruption, and concentrations of power and wealth. Here again, multilateral co-operation is essential and delivers results.
Take an issue like tax evasion and avoidance – the OECD/G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting project (BEPS) and common reporting standard for the automatic exchange of tax information, has already led to 93 billion euros in revenues.
But we need to push further on the toughest most divisive issues, like with the G20 through the Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity, and now, taxing the digital economy and looking at market concentration, data security, privacy and ethics. We just adopted the AI Principles, for example.
And I could not leave out climate change – the mother of all multilateral challenges. We have to spark ambition by making the economic case for low emissions pathways. That is our focus with Financing Climate Futures: Rethinking Infrastructure.
So, in sum, I would say that globalisation and multilateralism are not ends in themselves, they are only worth defending if they improve people’s lives and protect our natural environments. So we have to get this right!
 Measured in PPP terms