It was his first class of the year 2013, although, the location was different this time. It wasn’t the greater Boston area. It was Istanbul. A social-justice and women-rights activist was invited to speak about human development issues that generally get neglected when people are too busy focusing on headline growth numbers. He was excited. It was one of his favorite topics.

The speaker was impressive. Rather than being the ‘I-know-it-best’ expert, she conceded not having all the answers and was willing to engage in a meaningful dialogue. However, she said something that really irked him. She contested that, in some ways, the status of women in Turkey is (even) better than that of women in developed economies. The basis of her argument was that there are more female university professors in Turkey than in counties such as Germany. He raised his hand to register his opinion.

‘Societies with high level of misogyny have traditional roles and professions defined for women. I wouldn’t take too much pride in your statistics or subscribe to your judgment’ – he said. She smiled. This is exactly what he always loved about the ‘intellectuals.’ They don’t have false ego. When humbled, they are very wiling to pivot and move the conversation forward. He was one too, he hoped sincerely.

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