I learnt some shocking and inspiring things this week, at an event to celebrate the BBC’s global initiative, 100 Women.
I learnt that in Malawi there’s a death (mother or child) in one in 22 births. The comparable first world statistic is one in several thousand.
I learnt that in Raqqa, women who ‘bicker’ with their in-laws are flogged and those who question ISIS are deposited beyond the city and left as live prey for hyenas.
And I Iearnt that in India, unwanted baby girls are given the name Nakusha. Which means exactly that. Unwanted.
I also learnt that the BBC is capable of staging in more than 50 countries around the world a debate about women’s rights.
And that its campaign is helping a midwife from Malawi, Eveles Chimala, to improve practice in maternity units.
The campaign promotes an understanding of what it is to be a woman on planet earth today, in a male dominated world.
It does so with insight, dignity, grace and humour.
I find it both inspirational and a source of pride that the BBC does this. The work transcends debates about licence fees and charters; it should be honoured and encouraged.
I don’t agree with everything at the BBC. I sympathise with claims of left wing bias; some programming is self-indulgent: they always put my team last on Match of the Day.
There was even a slight and inadvertent mis-step last night, with Mishal Husain feeling the need to apologise to the men in the room for dwelling on childbirth stories. Apologise? I could out-talk anyone with my 18-hours-on-a-Whipps-Cross-maternity-ward story.
The 100 Women initiative reminds me that the BBC holds dear universal human values which it is uniquely placed to promote on a global scale.
The campaign claims to provide a platform for half the world – its female inhabitants – to speak. It’s a message to which the whole world should listen.