Monday, 26 September 2011

Facebook says rape incitement pages are like a 'rude pub joke'

In the last week I have publicised and wholeheartedly endorsed articles written by team members at which show the large number of Facebook pages celebrating, advocating and inciting the rape, abuse and violent assault of women. There are pages about "Riding Your Girlfriend Softly Cause You Don't Want to Wake Her Up", a page about "throwing bricks at sluts" that includes a photo gallery asking "Bang or Brick", pages called "Raping Your Mate's Girlfriend to See if She Can Put Up A Fight", “Kicking Sluts in the Vagina”, “I Know a Silly Little Bitch that Needs a Good Slap”,  "Don't You Hate it When You Punch a Slut in the Mouth and They Suck It" and "Punching Pregnant Women in the Stomach." The page about "Abducting, raping and violently murdering your friend, as a joke" has more than 16,600 Likes.

You can read the entry about it here: Facebook refuse to remove rape incitement, rape apologism, abuse and misogyny pages even when begged. The article links to a petition, now more than 170,000 signatures strong, urging Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg to remove and condemn these pages. I followed up this story for the Guardian, here. So far, Facebook have done nothing.

I want to see a man with his power, profile and leadership take a stand against the endemic violence and abuse of women. Rape incitement and rape apologism are not issues of free speech but of the violent abuse of women, which is absolutely mainstream worldwide and supported by all sides of a culture in which this type of abuse is ignored or belittled, the victims are demonised and blamed and the perpetrators are defended and excused. This article comes in the wake of Topshop's two T-shirts of Hate, one of which compared women to dogs while the other made light of violent perpetrators' typical jeering excuses. Topman's eventual retraction statement contained an extra free bit of added misogyny by saying that the T-shirts of Hate were "light hearted and carried no serious meaning." Yes, that's right: sheesh, we overreacted and are being humourless. How stupid of us not to realise that being compared to dogs and having perpetrators' excuses thrown back in our faces, in a world in which the endemic abuse of women is perpetrated with impunity, are all just a bit of jokey banter. I suppose misogyny is lighthearted and carries no serious meaning when you are the perpetrator, not the target.

Topman's hatred of women is not to be outdone, however, and their T Shirts of Hate spurred other womanhaters across the fashion world to best them. So Chargrilled came up with, and then took down, a classy number with No Plus Rohypnol Equals Yes. Here's the dead page where it used to be on sale. When people complained, the company issued a message that seemed extremely apologetic, until their own CEO Charlie Shiner took to his now deleted Twitter account and said that he "doesn't care" if people do not like rape-loving T-shirts, as they are not meant for "ugly feminists" anyway. Thank goodness for Google caches, for screendumps and for bloggers like this one, who blow the whistle when they can.

I have now learned from Jane Osmond at Women's Views on News, the superlative site which has now replaced the broadsheets as my source of information on women's and girls' welfare, that there has been some reaction from Facebook about these pro-rape pages. The article relates to a 3,000-signature strong UK petition asking  Facebook to delete a specific page that contains ‘joke’ posts about rape against women. The page is called  "You know she’s playing hard to get when your [sic] chasing her down an alleyway", screenshot here, and contains posts such as "I have raped many women….no lie" and "I rape a pregnant bitch and tell my friends I had a threesome."

The Facebook reaction is not good. Letters to the press from rape crisis and anti violence against women's groups have been ignored and Facebook have openly defended these pages despite thousands of people protesting against it through the FB report mechanism. In a statement given to the Annie Othen Show on BBC Radio Coventry and Warwickshire on 17th August, Facebook said:

We want Facebook to be a place where people can openly discuss issues and express their views whilst respecting the rights and feeling of others. We have now more than 750m people around the world of varying opinions and ideals using Facebook as a place to discuss and share things that are important to them. We sometimes find people discussing and posting about controversial topics

It is very important to point out that what one person finds offensive another can find entertaining – just as telling a rude joke won’t get you thrown out of your local pub, it won’t get you thrown off Facebook.

The petition was launched on August 19 by student Orlagh Ni Léid after Facebook issued the statement above. Orlagh commented:
I stumbled across this page and was shocked to see not only rape ‘jokes’, but outright advocacy and even apparent confessions. I started the petition when I found out that Facebook refused to take the page down and the UK mainstream press proved unresponsive to a letter from Rape Crisis England and Wales. Facebook is an influential social force and in a world where 1 in 5 women is a victim of rape or attempted rape, these pages are more than a ‘pub joke'. Surely Facebook should not be perpetuating rape culture?
Further, Facebook appears selective about how it applies its rules – for instance, a policy against breastfeeding pictures is upheld, indicating that breasts are offensive when used by women for anything other than being objects for men to look at, but that rape is not offensive. In doing so, Facebook have made it clear that it does not consider groups which condone rape to be in violation of their own hate speech rules (terms and conditions, section 3 safety, point 7).

The petition can be signed here.

UPDATE, as at 7th October 2011:
  • Facebook have made yet another strong statement in support of the rape pages and appear determined to keep the pages up at all cost. Read the Guardian article about it, written by Lizzy Davies.
  • Facebook's stated defiant reasons for refusing to remove the pages are a direct contradiction of their stated policy, despite what they say. Read the Guardian article about this, written by Cath Elliott.
  • Women's Views On News have also updated their reporting of this new, second refusal, in this article. Full disclosure: I am not asociated with WVoN, but they have quoted me in their piece.
  • Women's Views On News have, as at 13th October 2011, issued a new press release. More and more advertisers are pulling their ads from the pro rape pages. However, Facebook still refuse to take them down. Meanwhile the person who started one of these rape-loving pages is threatening to sue Facebook if the page is taken down. As a lady, brought up in all the diplomatic arts, let me say to that person: don't you have anything better to do with your life, you loathsome piece of shit?

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Facebook refuse to remove rape incitement, rape apologism, abuse and misogyny pages even when begged.

This, from, but endorsed wholeheartedly by me:

Facebook says that hate speech and incitements to violence are banned and will be removed from their site. So why are they maintaining a page called "Riding Your Girlfriend Softly Cause You Don't Want to Wake Her Up"? And another page about "throwing bricks at sluts" that includes a photo gallery of portraits asking "Bang or Brick"?  There are pages called "Raping Your Mate's Girlfriend to See if She Can Put Up A Fight", “Kicking Sluts in the Vagina,” and “I Know a Silly Little Bitch that Needs a Good Slap.” There's another page entitled "Don't You Hate it When You Punch a Slut in the Mouth and They Suck It." It has 2,086 Likes. There's another page celebrating the pleasures, for the perpetrators, of "Punching Pregnant Women in the Stomach." The page dedicated to "Abducting, raping and violently murdering your friend, as a joke" has more than 16,600 Likes.

There has even been an organized effort to use Facebook’s own reporting system to flag these and other pages that encourage rape and violence against women so they’ll be taken down. But Facebook hasn’t done a thing.

Now, member John Raines is going straight to the top. He started a petition on telling Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to take down these pages and take a stronger stand against violence against women.

Will you sign John’s petition to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg? Sign on, and tell Facebook to remove pages promoting rape and violence against women now.

The petition has more than 160,000 signatures and still Facebook have done nothing. When 1 in 3 women will be sexually abused and/or assaulted in her lifetime, pages like these -- and the reactions they elicit -- are downright scary. Tens of thousands of people have "liked" these pages. Some people even use them as platforms to share rape fantasies and receive explicit tactics for how to carry them out.

Tell Facebook to take down pages that promote violence against women

John has seen the devastating impact of sexual violence and rape firsthand, on his own family. That's why he created this petition on to get Facebook to enforce its existing policies and to make it clear that content promoting rape and violence against women violates Facebook's Terms of Service and won't be tolerated.

Please sign John's petition. Tell Facebook to stop providing a platform to promote rape and violence against women.

Thanks for being a change-maker,
Shelby Knox [the incredible woman behind Change. org] and the team

Monday, 19 September 2011

Free Verse: The Poetry Book Fair

If you want to support independent publishing and you love poetry and poetry books, please come along to the Free Verse Poetry Book Fair at Exmouth Market Centre, Exmouth Market, London EC1R 4QE this Saturday, 24 September 2011, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Entry is free and as you can tell by the cool poster, it's going to be an uplifting and inspiring day which will affirm your faith in poetry and the organisations and events that support it. You can celebrate the originality of independent publishing as the following small presses will be displaying and selling their books:  Anvil, Arc, Carcanet, CB editions, Donut, Egg Box, Enitharmon, flipped eye, HappenStance, if p then q, New Departures, Nine Arches, Penned in the Margins, Rack Press, Reality Street, Salt, Shearsman, Shoestring, Sidekick, Ward Wood, Waterloo, Waywiser and zimZalla.

As the organisers point out, there are deeper motivations behind this event than merely bringing together the lovers and practitioners of the art. The fair is a symbol of cultural survival against the financial odds. Like many organisations in many areas, the Poetry Book Society and the Poetry Trust both had their funding cut by the Arts Council in the March 2011 budget guillotine frenzy:
The fair celebrates the variety and vitality of contemporary poetry. It is also a response to the decision of Arts Council England in March 2011 to cut its regular funding of two organisations... who for many years have helped make poetry books available to more readers than they’d otherwise get to, and of a number of publishers whose work (translations, new writers and neglected older ones, local writing) was in accord with ACE stated priorities. A table at the book fair is being made available to the Poetry Book Society, free of charge, to publicise its work.

For more information please contact

One tiny note to the organisers. In sending out press information for this excellent event, please notice which names you're highlighting, who you're leaving out and who you're implying is culturally important (and who isn't). The formal press release has no women mentioned on it and makes me want to ignore your event the way the press release ignores women, who, as you know, will be the majority of audience members attending and supporting the fair. You are selling the event to journalists by saying it's being opened by Michael Horovitz, pointing out that there will be a souvenir programme featuring new work by Simon Armitage and providing a big supportive quote by Benjamin Zephaniah. There are countless major women poets (entirely off the top of my head, in 3 seconds: Jo Shapcott, Carol Ann Duffy, Jill Dawson, Jackie Kay, Fleur Adcock, Lavinia Greenlaw, Liz Lochead, Malaika Booker, Bernardine Evaristo,Wendy Cope, Imtiaz Dharkar, Ruth Padel, Helen Dunmore) who could have been approached to support the event for your press release.

Your all-male trio of namedrops is all the stranger given that only one of the men (Horovitz) is actually reading at the event. It makes me want to delete your email before I click on the list, which you sent as a separate Word document with no fancy typsetting or letterhead, of your actual and excellently-curated readings, in which brilliant women are brilliantly represented. You have put together a roster of appearances that anyone who both supports women and loves poetry would be delighted to attend. Yes, we work diligently at our desks and read our sincere little scribbles out loud, ever grateful, but we also deserve the headlines, the top quotes, the honorific appointments, the big celebration, the major sell, the starry commissions, the cultural weight, the mentions and the fancy, schmancy fonts.

Here's a list of the day's readings for everyone who wants to go and listen to these wonderful contemporary poets at this necessary and thought-provoking event. The day is not just for lovers of the word but also lovers of the book and supporters of the broader creative culture in which all these things flourish:
  • 10.30-11.00 Ward Wood: Sue Guiney and Peter Phillips
  • 11-11.45 Michael Horovitz
  • 12-12.30 Happenstance Press: Jon Stone, Kirsten Irving, Lorna Dowell, Peter Daniels, Clare Best and D A Prince
  • 12.30-1 Nine Arches Press: Ruth Larbey and Matt Merritt
  • 1-1.30 Reality Street: Jim Goar and James Davies
  • 1.30-2 Rack Press: Roisin Tierney, Nicholas Murray and Katy Evans-Bush
  • 2-2.30 CB Editions: Christopher Reid and Nancy Gafford
  • 2.30-3 Carcanet: Will Eaves and Ian Pindar
  • 3-3.30 if p then q: Lucy Harvest Clarke and Tom Jenks
  • 3.30-4 Flipped Eye: Max Wallis and Kate McLoughlin
  • 4-4.30 Penned in the Margins: Gemma Seltzer and Siddhartha Bose
  • 4.30-5 Waterloo Press: Jeremy Reed, Niall McDevitt and Philip Ruthen 

UPDATE: Okay, I cannot believe I am following up a pernickety snerpickety article with a grin on my face rather than a frown, but I have now received emails from the organisers which have just confirmed that these are, pretty much, the most nicest, decentest people. You must go to their event. I am putting excerpts of the exchange up here to make you smile, restore your faith and remind everyone that we can all make a difference, small and big, and be positive... and that sometimes people are just rather wonderful.

A major producer writes to me:
Thank you for helping us spread the word! I'm sorry about the press release - we could have so easily avoided the problem with some simple rewording. I'm very glad you did click through to the list of readers though, and that you agree the day itself looks like a worthwhile one. I will do a better job of representing the mix of poets in advance material in the future - thanks for pointing this out. Thank you for such a positive post overall - hope to see you on Saturday!
I write back to her:
Thanks for such a lovely email - as soon as I put the piece up I felt bad because obviously huge, huge amounts of work, efficiency and dedication go into events like yours and I hate being That Person. I should say, I don't believe for one second that these sorts of things are deliberate, or malicious, or anything like that. It is totally obvious how diverse and wideranging the event is. I think I notice it a lot because I get sent so many press releases and these deep sorts of cultural patterns then become very obvious. Anyway, roll on Saturday, it will be a huge success I know.
 She writes back to me:
No no - as soon as I saw your post I couldn't believe I hadn't noticed it before sending out all the info. It's such a stupid mistake to make. And it's a shame, because we have put thought into getting an interesting and diverse mix of readers on the day itself. It's always good to point it out - it's too easy to become complacent, and I'm kicking myself. Anyway, thank you again for the enthusiastic post - it's much appreciated!
If that doesn't make you feel generally great and in my case a bit choked up and misty at the niceness of people, I don't know what will.... unless it's this email from a gent behind the event:
Huge thanks for helping to publicise next Saturday’s poetry book fair on your blog. As for the gender issue, point taken. I’ve never before organised anything bigger than a one-person reading, and this has been a learning curve for me: it began as a late-night whim at the time of the ACE cuts, at which time I was thinking of maybe three of the presses who’d had funding cut and another three or four, and then it just grew, and now there are more presses than the room can comfortably hold and I’ve had to turn others away. We did approach one of the major women poets you mention but she didn’t reply; one or two of the others I chose not to approach because I thought them too, well, Establishment. (Armitage and Reid were approached because, although they too are Establishment, they’ve made a point of publishing with and supporting small presses throughout their careers.) But yes, the omission of women on the press release was bad.

Why there hasn’t been an event like this in London (there are others outside London) for so long, I can’t think. If we get enough people, I’m hoping [THE WOMAN QUOTED ABOVE] - who has been amazing - and maybe one or two others, younger than me, can pick it up and do something bigger next year, maybe over two days, and turn it into an annual event.
And this is what I wrote to him, edited because I mentioned some confidential day-job details:
I am smiling very much now as I have just received an email just as lovely as yours from [THE WOMAN QUOTED ABOVE] too, confirming the feeling I got when I saw your poster and roster that you are just utterly butterly wonderful people.

I notice the gender thing a lot simply because as a hack I'm sent info about everything cultural on the planet so patterns of omission/including/bolstering of reputation become very obvious, and so often there's a no-women press release....along with a pretty much no-women actual roster, and no lovely mixed readings to leaven the grief. Your event is not, for one second, sexist, and when I saw the list of readings I was grinning and applauding. My day job is [AS AN IN-HOUSE BALLERINA FOR NASA] and I understand ...the incredible pressure producers are under [WHEN ONE'S TUTU IS ORBITING MARS].

And YES! to a bigger and longer event. You could extend to the Free Word Centre who I'm sure would get behind it, or camp out at the Southbank for 3 days? Or collaborate with the British Library... if there is anything I can do to help facilitate this in any way, please let me know, I am on board (and am not just saying that!) If you want someone to advocate, to patronise, whatever it is, give me the word.

After that I think you will agree, we are all lovely, lovely, lovely people. Have a great week, everyone reading this, and top it off by attending the Free Verse Poetry Book Fair on Saturday at Exmouth Market Centre, Exmouth Market, London EC1R 4QE  from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Entry, like some verse, is wild and funny and free.

A FINAL NOTE: I thought I should also mention Poet in the City, who have launched an extremely interesting programme of talks, readings and interviews at venues around London and is lucky to have received funding as a new organisation in this Arts Council round. Their work is excellent and includes valuable programmes involving using poetry to help sufferers of mental health issues, youth work, outreach work and much more. But, I ask myself, are they lovely? After Poet in the City sent me details of their autumn events I wrote to the man who sent me the details, POIC chief exec Graham Henderson:
dateFri, Sep 16, 2011 at 11:26 AM
subjectPoetry and mental health scheme
hide details Sep 16 (4 days ago)

Hi there and many thanks for your email about poet in the city,

A wonderful organisation and a great range of speakers and events. I am extremely impressed by your daring and diversity - making links with international writers and issues. Very exciting and extremely inspiring.

I was very interested in your 'poetry and mental health' programme and wondered if you're looking for writers to be tutors for this? I have done a lot of work in this capacity, bringing writing/storytelling/poetry/expression to [VARIOUS PLACES WITH VARIOUS ORGANISATIONS]. It is the hardest thing but also the most rewarding thing; often a far cry from the delights of the literary scene as we think of it - yet profoundly valuable. And the people are always strong, funny, inspiring. I had students who talked about certain workshops they had done (with other writers) years afterwards. I will shortly be working with [AN ORGANISATION] on a brief project going into UK refugee centres to work as a writer with families there.

I've stuck my biog in a link on my name but please absolutely ignore this if it's irrelevant. I just wanted to write in support of what you do and see if I could offer something I had some experience in, not as an expert myself but because whenever I work in these roles I come away learning so much myself about people's resilience and depth.

Best wishes, [ME]
No reply. My conclusion: they are good. But they are not lovely.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Apprehension and hope: women activists ignored, women leaders unite

Every so often I feel like relinquishing my human rights advocacy and running a donkey sanctuary until I die. Indeed, there is a donkey sanctuary nearby. The donkeys are free to roam until they stray beyond their owners’ territory and discover that the region is staked out with electric fences. At the hub of each set of fences is a small, easy-to-miss generator, ticking sharply as the current flows, producing strong deterrent lines of power. The donkeys are friendly but have learnt not to approach the wires because the kickback is too painful. So they stay in their enclosure, pretty and mild, staring blandly from a safe distance.  

That is what it’s like being a woman and that is why I’ll never stop being an activist despite the fact that activism is sometimes depressing, repetitive and exhausting. The alternative is a life of passive acceptance, even safety and contentment, in a seemingly nice environment ringfenced by lines of power and territory, limitation and demarcation, definition and imprisonment, which we did not choose but were born into. We have had no say in the shaping of the world because our ideas were ignored, overruled by force or diminished by the threat of force.

I will risk the pain of the kickback for the prospect of freedom. This is daunting because it requires the rising up of the few against the many, the active minority against a passive majority, the incensed against the complacent, the inspired against the unquestioning. Activism is a chore and a weight, not a thrill. Only when one speaks up does one realise just how much antagonism and resistance there is, fuelled by surface complacency, fuelled by the deep misogyny, racism, militarism, capitalism, individualism and labour exploitation which have made the world what it is.  Activism is a full time job which I and many other people do in addition to our actual full time jobs – jobs which are often themselves poisoned by the types of discrimination and bigotry I mention.

Despite this, millions of women work tirelessly and fearlessly all over the world, fighting the machismo which has warped society for women, girls, men and boys in too many countries to mention. But is their work being ignored? I have been contacted recently by numerous international women’s charities. One woman wrote on behalf of  “a network of organisations focusing on women's rights and conflict.” They work with the UK government, making sure that its peace and security practices safeguard women living in countries affected by violent conflict. They are shortly to initiate a campaign on women and Afghanistan and want to “mobilise British activists to hold the government to promises made to Afghan women when the UK went into Afghanistan ten years ago.”  The woman continues,

The UK and others are involved in discussions about transition out of Afghanistan and we and the women's rights activists that we work with in Afghanistan are really worried that women's rights will be seen as something negotiable, disposable or unimportant in the rush to leave.
Women’s human rights have always been seen, in her so-apt phrase, as negotiable, disposable or unimportant, not only in war zones but in all areas of life. Her message echoed another email exchange I had this week, with a woman from another charity. I admire this charity hugely as it focuses on working with women’s specific local enterprises, co-operatives, programmes and projects in multiple countries, instead of ‘swooping in’ to provide an all-purpose altruism plan. Each project is tailored to the needs and strengths of women in that country, in that region, in that context, at that time, whether it be developing agricultural skills, empowering girls in education, bringing more women to participate in existing political and electoral practices, developing trade and economic skills, establishing apprenticeships, educating women about their rights, tackling domestic violence and much more. The woman from this charity wrote, in a thought-provoking and inspiring email,

One of our big priorities for the coming year is to build links with the UK feminist community and help to make connections between the women’s movement in Britain and in the countries we work in. It’s a source of endless frustration that even the most well-intentioned coverage often leaves the brave and inspiring work of women’s organisations in the developing world out of the picture.

These phrases – being left out of the picture, being disposable and unimportant – reflect how women are treated, how women are represented and what is thought about women, even amongst people who claim to be progressive. This holds whether we are survivors of injustice or activists against it or both. So the global abuse and exploitation of women is ignored; and when women mobilise globally to act against abuse, that is also ignored.

It is easy to sink into despair when reading these messages because one has the feeling that for all women’s seemingly infinite reserves of resourcefulness and strength, the men and women in power still behave as though we do not exist in any meaningful way. We are exploited for our bodies as providers of labour and use of different kinds – administrative, organisational, agricultural, sexual, domestic, nurturing of children, caring towards the ill, supportive of older relatives – and this labour is unacknowledged, underpaid or unpaid and undervalued.

We deserve much more than this. We are human beings with thoughts, experience, ideas and innovation on our side. We have a physical and mental strength that men should revere instead of exploiting. We wish for our ideas about the world to be heard and our vision for a nonviolent world society to be acted upon. More than that, women and men – and more importantly, girls and boys – deserve to grow up on a planet which has not been destroyed by violence, abuse, greed and cynicism.

I do not believe hope is lost, but perhaps it is hidden. In the background of activists’ despair is a women’s movement which is millions strong and encompasses everyone from student groups and grassroots activists to international world leaders. I have recently been informed of an annual gathering of extremely influential women from all over the world, who unite to look at a range of international issues affecting society. The Women's Forum for the Economy and Society, which meets from 13th to 15th October, is not dealing specifically or exclusively with women and conflict or the aftermath of war but aims to covers all major leading-edge global issues. Speakers include Christine Legarde  of the IMF, Emma Bonino the Vice President of the Italian Senate speaking about violence against women and the Nobel Prize winner and human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi speaking about the Arab uprisings. These delegates and many more are participating in a powerful event whose roster of talks is impressively far-reaching. The calibre of the speakers and their combined social, intellectual, cultural, political and economic clout gives me faith that when these women decide something, it will happen.

The Women's Forum for the Economy and Society is the first international summit of its kind and will be celebrating its 7th anniversary this year. This year’s meeting focuses on “How our world is changing, and what we can do to shape this change.” It is a shaming indictment of the international political system that thousands of years into human ‘civilisation’ it is a unique selling point that a major – even crucial – forum actually has “women’s voices and perspectives... featured along with their male counterparts in plenaries”. I urge you, activists, media, students, journalists, interested parties, to cover it, watch it, attend it, support it. It is proof that though we may feel we are on the margins, ignored by the mainstream, these powerful women are thinking, talking, communicating and pledging constructively with confidence and solidarity.

Here you will find outlines of some of the debates and panels happening at the event and here is a list of just some of the speakers’ biographies. Both are taken from the official press materials provided to me. Typically, this being an event which foregrounds women’s intellect, energies and capabilities, it packs an enormous amount into three days. There are sessions on climate change, new technology, social media, women on boards, energy resources, political economy, religion and secularism, scientific research, violence against women, bio-ethics and more.

I would add one reservation to my celebration of this event, which I hope to be reporting from in full next year: it tacitly accepts and promotes the fundamentally individualist, capitalist, corporate basis which I mentioned earlier and assumes that ‘success’ and ‘power’ are largely achieved by and exercised through commercial endeavour in a hierarchical organisation whose winners can then philanthropically shower down their benefits on the people below once they have achieved sufficient standing themselves. There is even a session on the failure of global capitalism to ensure equality – and one of the speakers is the Executive Vice President of Nestlé. This is no huge criticism. I only mean to point out that the power being discussed, shared and used here is mainstream and predisposes a stability, wealth, moderation and centrism on the part of the societies, industries and countries represented on the panels. The forum generally has a business, government, commercial, legislative, entrepreneurial and powerful leadership approach rather than a humanitarian, communitarian or activist campaigning basis, although some few NGOs and philanthropic groups are represented. It is broadly accepting of established sources of financial and political power. The majority of speakers are drawn from international corporations, banking and technology groups, the global media including the Wall Street Journal and Reuters and various extremely high level government bodies including those representing women world and state leaders. There is a gala dinner hosted by Barclays and Cartier are hosting its annual Women’s Initiative Awards. But, hey, you know, capitalism. You can’t survive in it – but it’s everywhere.

And finally...the sheer numbers of powerful, dynamic, articulate, unafraid women present in all of these debates, whatever the topic or format, shows that when TV, live event and radio producers who ignore women bleat that women are shy, unwilling, incapable or absent, they are lying.

For journalist colleagues wishing to cover the Women’s Forum, press details and interview requests should go to Briar Burley: