May 21, 2013
Five Women Who Matter Most
Posted on Oct 4, 2011
Sebelius presides over the deepening health care crisis—a record 50 million people are uninsured. In February, she gave the green light to Arizona to cut 250,000 recipients off of Medicaid and told state officials they could circumvent the requirement in the patient protection act that prohibits reductions in eligibility.
FORUS: Dr. Ida Hellander, executive director of Physicians for a National Health Program.
Hellander has fought for single-payer health care for 17 years. Hellander is the superglue and the policy guru that holds together Physicians for a National Health Program, an organization that has grown to 18,000 members. Hellander knew Obama when as an Illinois senator he was an advocate of single-payer, and she wasn’t surprised when as president, Obama dumped single-payer and refused the physicians program group a seat at the health care reform table. She is all too familiar with inside-the-beltway betrayals. When liberal organizations and progressive, single-payer Democrats went down like dominoes—John Conyers, Dennis Kucinich and Independent Bernie Sanders—and supported the public option and then the patient protection act, Hellander said hell no! The pressure on the physicians program group to compromise was enormous but it stood strong against blistering criticism from all quarters. Hellander believes in her bones that health care is a human right and it’s a crime that 45,000 people die in America every year because they lack access to it. Recently she wrote, “The best way to control costs is to cover everyone kicking out the private insurance middlemen and creating a single-payer health care system.” Hellander’s unshakable moral compass is the physicians program organization slogan: “everybody in, nobody out.” Access to health care matters.
FORBES: Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund.
In an interview, Lagarde talked testosterone. “Gender-dominated environments are not good ... particularly in the financial sector where there are too few women,” she said. “In gender-dominated environments, men have a tendency to show how hairy chested they are. ... I honestly think that there should never be too much testosterone in one room.”
Lagarde, a former finance minister in France, was hated there almost as much as President Nicolas Sarkozy. She wants French workers to toil like Americans—fewer vacation days and benefits and more grueling workweeks. As head of the IMF, Lagarde will bail out governments and in return insist on harsh austerity programs that drive down working-class living standards, cut vital health and social services, and destroy the lives of millions. The usual IMF shock doctrine.
Reportedly, the IMF chief has a favorite drawing. It depicts her as a dominatrix in fishnet stockings, whipping a banker. If only she was whipping the bottoms of bankers who crashed the world financial system. Instead, Mistress de Sade will punish the most vulnerable, a disproportionate number of them women and children. For decades, IMF officials have inflicted pain around the globe through austerity and “structural adjustment” programs. Lagarde stands in that sick tradition.
FORUS: Asmaa Mahfouz, a founder and organizer of the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt.
Mahfouz helped spark the revolution that ended in the spectacle of Hosni Mubarak lying on a stretcher in a cage in civilian court. The 26-year-old was fed up with the hopelessness and fear that dominated the lives of Egyptians. The tech-savvy Mahfouz made a video that went viral. In the video she asked people to protest in Tahrir Square on Jan. 25. She cajoled, “Talk to your family and friends. ... Bring five people or 10 people. Never say there’s no hope. Hope disappears only when you say there is no hope. So long as you come down with us there will be hope. Demand your rights. ...” Mahfouz held up a sign: “No to corruption, no to this regime.” Thousands of people heeded the call in what turned into a national day of rage. That’s power that matters.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the brutal military body that has ruled since Mubarak’s ouster, has forced Mahfouz to continue the struggle. She was arrested after posting this on Twitter: “If the justice system does not give us our rights, nobody should be upset if armed groups emerge and carry out assassinations. As long as there is no law, there is no justice. ...” The Supreme Council, which tries protesters in military courts, dropped the charges against Mahfouz, explaining that she and a co-defendant were “in a revolutionary condition, which had an impact on their performance in public and political arenas.” Exactly right.
Helen Redmond is a writer and freelance journalist. She writes about health care, the War on Drugs in the United States, Mexico and Afghanistan. She can be reached at redmondmadrid at yahoo dot com.
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