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01st November 2007 Edward Anderson

Bianca Jagger on Good Causes

On Wednesday evening, students at Exeter were lucky enough to meet none other than Bianca Jagger; a pioneer described by Rector Frances Cairncross as ‘an iconic figure who has used her name and her brains for many good causes’.

Bianca’s talk, ‘In the Name of Progress and Development’, was a fascinating and radical overview of poverty, climate change, and the oppression of women — and how the most popular attempts to improve these issues are not always the best.

Some of the most interesting topics to arise from the discussion were the unseen importance of the IMF, the vital need for a post-Kyoto protocol in the G8, and the way in which ‘the EPA has been gutted since George Bush came to power’.

‘We are locked into an inefficient, pollution-based economy,’ Bianca said. ‘Countries from the global north continue to rape and pillage the countries of the global south’.

She also spoke a great deal about the situation in Iraq, recounting her experiences of being in the country ten days before the invasion. ‘Even the most fervent opponents of Saddam Hussein did not want an invasion,’ she said. ‘We do not bring democracy at gunpoint.’

But behind these matters of international importance was a powerful human story. Bianca told rapt listeners about life under the Nicaraguan Samoza regime, her parents’ break-up when she was barely a teenager, and what it was like to see the oppression of women ‘first-hand’.

In particular, she spoke of her mother’s profound influence on her life. ‘My mother was my role model,’ Bianca said.

The students gathered together at the end of the evening agreed the talk had made them readdress their views. Perhaps when it comes to Make Poverty History, Bono and Geldof are not saving the planet after all.

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