If I ruled the world: Helena Kennedy

“I would create a bonfire of every patriarchal law”

March 10, 2017
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Richard Gardner/REX/Shutterstock (1253485m) Helena Kennedy Q.C. Compass AGM, London, Britain - 27 Nov 2010
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Richard Gardner/REX/Shutterstock (1253485m) Helena Kennedy Q.C. Compass AGM, London, Britain - 27 Nov 2010

If I ruled the world, I would start by smashing some myths, like the idea that people get to leadership positions based on merit. A lie. If that were true, why are so many useless men running the world? I would introduce gender quotas across the board—from governments to corporations and public services. I want an equal number of women to men at every table. That should be the norm. Would they be better than men? Well they certainly couldn’t be worse. It would refresh some of the thinking, change the discourse, and women unused to power would ask the democratic question, why? Why are things done in this way, when they don’t work?

I would tell the world it had been duped on the money front. All that guff about “trickle down economics” was a lie. The fairy tale that capitalism needed to be released from its state shackles, and we would all enjoy success and prosperity, if only rich men could get richer, was a huge con. And around the world, women fare the worst. Over many years this economic poison has been drip fed into every institution from the central banks to governments, the world over. Low taxation, testosterone-fuelled competition in every sector, the lowering of wages, destruction of trade unions, and a disregard of the needs of the majority. This economic model has deepened societal divisions, causing conflict, undermining public services and increasing the distrust of politicians. The far-right know how to manipulate this disaffection.

I would remind people the markets are amoral; it is governments and people who need to inject values and ethics into them. Where are the ethics in low wages for ordinary people and monumental salaries for the top jobs? I would find a formula for a living wage in every nation of the world and an algorithm for the fair remuneration of those at the top of the corporate world.

I would support entrepreneurship and pump money into education, the arts and culture to encourage creativity. I would legislate against bonuses in the financial sector. I would re-nationalise essential services like railways and give them back to the people. I would prevent the profit motive being introduced into areas where it does not belong—justice, national healthcare, social care, prisons, education. Market ideology should have no place in certain aspects of our lives where we have collective responsibility for each other. Yes, public services should be business-like, but they are not to be businesses under Kennedy’s rule. (And, by the way, I do think that the title President Kennedy has a certain ring to it!)

The biggest myth of all has to be taken on. Patriarchy. My government would confront the bilge that women are different but equal. I would create a bonfire of every patriarchal religious and secular law that discriminates against women. I would make it clear to governments that if they do not adequately protect women against violence, sexual abuse and exploitation they will be drummed out of any economic bloc and will receive no trading privileges.

That would be for starters.