Dr. Dambisa Moyo
“…access to healthcare not only translates into a longer lifespan, but it also allows/creates more economic opportunity. For women in particular, given difficulties around childbirth and maternal care, this is an important issue for ensuring women play a role in the workforce and can be self-sufficient. In line with the importance of access to healthcare…creating an environment where women are able to stay healthy–both mentally and physichally–is crucial to equality and to the success of women in the workplace and beyond.”
What socio-political women’s issue do you care about the most?
One of the women’s issues that I care most about is access to healthcare. This is an incredibly important issue for both men and women around the world as access to healthcare not only translates into a longer lifespan, but it also allows/creates more economic opportunity. For women in particular, given difficulties around childbirth and maternal care, this is an important issue for ensuring women play a role in the workforce and can be self-sufficient. In line with the importance of access to healthcare, I often talk about my experience running marathons and recently published an article about the importance of sports for women in business. Creating an environment where women are able to stay healthy–both mentally and physically–is crucial to equality and to the success of women in the workplace and beyond.
What specific aspect of women’s rights in the US could we change to set an example to the world? What will it take (apart from time) for women to be viewed as equal to men?
The biggest opportunity for reaching equality for women is within equal pay. In 1963, women earned 59 cents for every dollar that men earned. Today, women earn 79 cents for every dollar that men earn. As women become a larger percentage of the workforce and breadwinners for families, decreasing this pay gap and obtaining equal pay is more important than ever.
Whatever profession you choose, do men see women as either a female rival with independence and strength, or someone inexperienced that needs to be managed, never as an equal? How do you show your male colleagues that you are an equal without stepping on their toes?
It is impossible to know what men, or any single man for that matter, think about women, so why spend time speculating?. Instead, focus on doing the right thing and working hard and people (men and women) will reveal themselves. I do think women can do themselves a disservice by second guessing and speculating on what men might think about them. Worse is that women could still be missing out on valuable networks, advice, and mentorship if they adopt what I see as an “us versus them” approach. In my career, men (as well as women) have been incredibly influential and supportive in driving my success. All men have female influences in their lives–whether mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, or girlfriends–and the vast majority of men would not want to see their loved ones abused or taken advantage of in the work place. On this basis, I strongly believe that many men actually predisposed to be positive and supportive of women in the workplace and in careers if you give them a chance.
Do you feel the extreme left and right wings of U.S. politics are destroying the United in United States, or is it just healthy debate? Should the financing of political campaigns be the controlled by an independent authority?
I think the dogmatic ideological divide between the extreme left and right wings of U.S. politics has made it difficult to address the social ails of today. In my article, “The Problem with Economics Today: it’s All About Fighting Instead of Fixing,” I stressed how by strongly adhering to the principles of these rival camps the debate becomes too simplistic and does not allow for the nuances that the complex economic and geopolitical landscape requires. According to a recent poll by The New York Times and CBS, 85% of Americans agree with this statement. One option is certainly for an independent authority to campaign financing in order to help regulate donations and ensure there is more transparency. As demonstrated by the fact that just 158 wealthy U.S. families account for approximately half of the money fueling political campaigns, the current structure for campaign financing requires serious reform.
What do you now know about yourself that you wish you knew ten/fifteen/twenty years ago? Do today’s young people face a bigger challenge than you did?
I wish I had known that the people that would support my career and work would come from all and any background–race, nationality, gender, age, religion. I think the young people of today have limitless opportunities and they are willing to focus, be disciplined, and work hard. After all, they are largely unbound by the strictures of class, race, gender, and religion that might have held them back in previous generations.
Can you tell us about one of the biggest challenges in your life that you think helped you become the person you are today? What was your best decision to date? Worst decision?
Best decision: stay in school and to get an education.
Worst decision: none catastrophic thus far, so bad decisions have been learning experiences.
Who inspires you the most? If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Diana Nyad. She is an incredibly motivated and persistent woman who I admire greatly. Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida (without the aid of a shark cage) in 2013. It took her five tries to accomplish this task. Her refusal to give up and commitment to achieving her goals is something that inspires me greatly.
Sister Madonna Buder: She is the 86-year-old ”Iron Nun” featured in the new Nike Youth Campaign. Buder is a Senior Olympian triathlete and has the world record for the oldest person to finish an Ironman Triathalon. She has completed over 325 triathlons, including 45 Ironmans. To put that in perspective, an ironman consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bicycle ride, and a marathon (26.2 miles). A woman who can complete in 45 of these–never mind still compete and train at age 86–is someone who has words of wisdom worth hearing.
Fauja Singh: He was the first 100-year-old to ever finish a marathon and is the oldest marathon runner in the world. Today, at 105-years-old, he still runs on his own and teaches about healthy living. I think meeting him and hearing his life story and personal inspirations and challenges would be fascinating and time well spent.
If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?
To be invisible or able to time travel.
Favorite: Book/writer? Song/singer? Movie/actor? Cuisine/dish?
My favorite book at the moment is The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs.
A toss up between the original Law & Order or Columbo–the detective series.