Fazle Hasan Abed is founder and chairperson of BRAC, the international development NGO formerly known as Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee.
Fazle Hasan Abed on
We still have tremendous capabilities of improving the human condition and also doing lots of harm to human beings. I think what has happened is that over the last 50 years we have advanced a great deal in terms of eliminating poverty in large parts of the world. Many countries that were poor 50 years ago are no longer poor.
I think gender equality is so important for human well-being that patriarchy needs to be defeated in most countries. Patriarchy is so entrenched in most countries that probably it will take many more lifetimes to completely defeat it. It certainly has taken my lifetime to try and defeat it.
A global ethic, to some extent, is opportunities.
The world is at peace in a way. There are no world wars anymore. I just hope that we can contain the conflicts that we still have in the world, sectarian conflicts and territorial conflicts that affect the world today. I hope that we can contain them in such a way that it doesn't affect too many people's lives. That's the only realistic hope that we can have right now.
In many Third World countries, you find that it's the ethical leaders who are in short supply. If you can develop leaders who are to think ethically, who act ethically, then the next generation of governance in Bangladesh would be far superior, simply because at least the ethical dilemmas will be understood properly and they will act accordingly.
It has taken 100 years to get women votes, I suppose another 100 years probably to get complete equality. Only in three or four countries in the world you can say today you have gender equality—almost equality—in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, probably. Everybody else is so much behind in equality of genders that I think this is going to be the biggest challenge for the next century to achieve.