Feminism shouldn't be a gendered concern. By this I mean that feminism shouldn't be something that only women care about. As a man, I don't profess to need feminism as much as my female friends. I'm not the one being held back because of my gender, or having obscenities thrown at me in the streets...
A year ago, almost to the day, I visited a refugee settlement on the Syria border, and it changed everything for me... Nothing prepared me for what I found a year ago. Instead of a population in need of aid, I found families outraged by the international silence surrounding the brutality of the conflict they had fled.
The debate about bombing Syria is, in part, about the shock-and-awe policy of politics: most of us remember the shock-and-awe blitzkrieg unleashed over Baghdad as a curtain raiser to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Shock-and-awe, known in military parlance as Rapid Dominance, is a doctrine developed at The National Defense University of the United States in1996.
Earlier this week, the United Nations declared Syria's refugee crisis the 'humanitarian calamity' of the century. Every day, roughly 5,000 refugees flee Syria with little more than the clothes on their backs. The number of Syrians who have left their war-ravaged country has risen to more than two million. A year ago, that number was 230,671.
As a country, we have shirked this challenge. We have ran and hid from that bully Assad, far away from his Sarin strikes, and his blatant disregard for both human life and the tenements of International Law. We should not be running scared, we have both the means and the morality to stop him in his evil re-conquest of a former fiefdom.
The anti-intervention left and right have totally given up on the idea of the most powerful countries in the world being able to have any positive effect upon the world at large. In addition the anti-war movement claims to be on the side of peace, as if we occupy a world created by Disney, where the world is a simple choice between peace and war.
I've discovered that a driving holiday in rural central France with intermittent internet access is not the best way to hear that Parliament has been imminently recalled, or the best place from which to act on the information. Result? The logistics of getting back in time have beaten me and I'll still be on the road back to the UK when Parliament meets on Thursday.
Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) was something of an enigma. At the age of three, he started studying Latin and, allegedly, finished reading a multi-volume history of England by the age of four. He is known as the founder of Utilitarianism, a leading theorist in the Anglo-American philosophy of law, and the spiritual founder of University College London.
Today is Malala Day. Her 16th birthday. Less than a year ago she became a victim of an attack on education, when she was shot and almost fatally wounded by armed men on her way back from school. Her bravery has shone a light on the scale of the educational crisis the world still faces, as well as the struggle for a future faced by children living in areas affected by conflict. The situation in Syria typifies this struggle.
"I want the world to feel us, to have compassion, to listen to these stories of our lives and our suffering. To know that no-one wants to leave their home. We were living a normal life - we had houses, jobs, shops, warehouses. Now we have lost everything, we have nothing. I just want the people outside to know that we were just like you."
We can only hope and pray for the best in Syria, but perhaps for Belarus we can do something more. The sanctions against South Africa worked. The regime changed. Two decades later Nelson Mandela, 27 years a political prisoner, is now, as he lies in hospital, the hallowed former President and father of the Rainbow Nation South Africa became.
In this context it might seem strange that IKEA, famous for affordable home furnishing, has a role to play. Yet, for the past two years, the IKEA Foundation has been driving a unique collaboration with a team of Swedish designers and UNHCR to design a better refugee shelter for the millions of children and families forced to flee their homes every year.
Soldiers may fight wars, but it is politicians who not only start them, the politicians getting around a table and talking also finish them. In a dirty and nasty war which has cost over 35,000 people's lives, the only real way to come out with a solution to the annual cycle of fighting is to discuss it.