National Coordinator of the Association of Nigerian Women Business Network, Nikiru Joy Okpala, talks about how she went from being a young lawyer interested in women’s issues to working in the field of business association management. She discusses the importance of economic empowerment for women and the barriers that make it difficult for women in Nigeria to succeed in business. One of those barriers is what she calls the “two-job function” where women have to juggle demands at work with demands at home, such as housekeeping and childcare.
Okpala also discusses the role of women in Nigerian society, the urban/rural split in attitudes, and how education is helping expand what is possible for women in her country. Finally she talks about how her parents raised her to be an independent and successful woman, including the confidence she gained through debating current affairs with her banker father and his friends.
Ambassador of the Republic of Albania, Floreta Faber, discusses her previous role as head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Albania and how she built the institution into one of the strongest associations in the country. She talks about establishing forums for public-private dialogue to present governments with business community perspectives. She also discusses the importance of focusing on collective issues rather than individual company needs. She offers advice to new associations establishing themselves in developing countries, including the importance of representing members equally and fairly, which, she says, is not always easy to do.
Ambassador Faber also discusses how leading a business association prepared her for being an Ambassador. Working for a better business environment, for economic growth, for more government accountability and transparency, fighting corruption, and improving economic ties between Albania and the U.S., are issues she still works on today. Finally, she talks about meeting President Trump, the huge responsibility she feels representing her country, and what she most admires about the United States.
Editor of the Washington Post’s DemocracyPost blog, Christian Caryl, discusses the challenges facing democracy around the world and whether we are at a major inflection point in history. He talks about the current crisis facing western democracy and why its implications are vitally important for Americans.
Caryl, a self-described “troll magnet,” also talks about the difficulty of countering fake news and the Russian information war. He explains the rules that guide the work of journalists in the United States, and how increasing media literacy is important for rebuilding the public’s trust in the media.
Ayesha Bilal, Chief Operating Officer of Pakistani think tank PRIME (Policy Research Institute of the Market Economy), discusses PRIME’s work encouraging citizen involvement in public policymaking in Pakistan. She talks about PRIME’s highly successful Scorecard project to track how well the government has met its economic reform promises. Bilal shares how PRIME included the government as a stakeholder in the project and how the government is now using the Scorecard to track its own progress.
Bilal talks about the importance of tackling issues that have a broad appeal, and tactics for involving many sectors of the population in policy discussions – from homemakers to entrepreneurs to business owners. She stresses the need for openness and transparency in research and advocacy projects, and the importance of encouraging discussion, not imposing solutions. She also discusses PRIME’s current #FairTax campaign.