Nick Hopkinson: Tobacco industry collaborators sending equality up in smoke – The BMJ – The BMJ

Nick Hopkinson: Tobacco industry collaborators sending equality up in smoke – The BMJ – The BMJ

It is widely believed that the American humourist and mathematician Tom Lehrer abandoned comedy because Henry Kissinger was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for bombing Cambodia. A bold new entry into the beyond-satire stakes is an online gender equality conference held by the Financial Times in partnership with, of all people, Philip Morris International (PMI). 

Perhaps this is to celebrate the fact that lung cancer now causes more women’s deaths than breast cancer? Or the tremendous work the tobacco industry is doing to increase smoking rates among women in parts of the world where these still lag behind men?

The reason Tom Lehrer actually gave for returning to academia was that “the headlines used to make me laugh, now they just make me angry…. it’s hard to be funny and angry at the same time.” If this was just the tobacco industry entertaining itself with some “feminism for the 1%” it would be bad enough. What is infuriating is the list of people who should know better who are prepared to lend their credibility to the exercise. Advertised speakers include Megan O’Donnell, the Assistant Director, Gender Program at the Centre for Global Development, Irene Natividad the President of the Global Summit of Women, Alaina Percival, CEO of Women Who Code, Claire Barnett Executive Director, UN Women UK and Helen Grant MP who is a former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice and for Women and Equalities.

The 2018 Cape
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