Widgets Magazine

Education for women is paramount, Kristof says

New York Times columnist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas Kristof identified gender discrimination as the century’s paramount moral challenge when he spoke Saturday evening in Cubberley Auditorium. Kristof compared gender inequality to slavery in the 19th century and to totalitarianism in the 20th.


New York Times Op-Ed columnist Nicholas Kristof spoke Saturday evening about humanitarianism and student involvement. (WENDING LU/The Stanford Daily)

“Women and girls aren’t the problem,” Kristof said. “They are the solution.”


Kristof argued that education, particularly for girls and young women, holds the key to enacting change in impoverished and developing countries. Educating a girl, Kristof stated, inspires dramatic changes and deteriorates other social issues.


On the topic of gender discrimination leading to deaths, Kristof said it is an issue that both men and women must address together.


“Just as the Holocaust was not just a Jewish problem, this is a global rights issue, and it needs to be handled as such,” he said.


In response to a student’s question about why global issues may receive more attention than local concerns, Kristof said there is a misconception that gender discrimination is only an international issue.


He explained that the issue is pertinent throughout the United States, as girls who run away from home become the responsibility of society.


“We don’t have the moral authority to criticize or offer our aid to other countries unless we can clean up our act in the U.S.,” he said.


However, Kristof also made the point that on the issue of poverty, “the issue abroad is truly a different kind.”


“It is an issue of a different order or magnitude in other aspects of the world,” Kristof said.


In the question and answer portion of the event, Kristof answered questions on topics ranging from his personal opinion of China’s one-child policy to his favorite war story.


“Kristof gave a dynamic and thought-provoking talk that elaborated on the topic of gender inequality and third world poverty with Stanford students in an exceptionally candid and funny lecture,” sad Dylan Bulkeley-Krane ’13, director of the Speakers Bureau, which co-sponsored the event along with Stanford In Government (SIG) and FACE AIDS. “We are lucky to have experienced such a sincere and accomplished speaker.”


“Kristof’s visit to campus has been almost a year in the making,” said Otis Reid ’12, SIG Chair. “We chose Kristof because of his strong passion for humanitarian issues and his emphasis on inspiring young people to engage in a life of service.”


To conclude his discussion, Kristof posed a question to the audience.


“We, sitting here, have truly won the lottery of life, but with it comes responsibility,” he said. “What will you do with your responsibility?”