Friday Film Pick: Who’s Counting? Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies and Global Economics

1 Posted by - April 9, 2010 - Blog, Friday Film Pick, Screen

This week’s film selection is inspired in part by the recent controversy around Margaret Atwood and the Dan David prize she is poised to accept in May. I was searching the NFB site for a film on Ms. Atwood, who is known for her guarded privacy, and indeed found a documentary called Margaret Atwood: Once in August from 1984 by Michael Rubbo. However, after watching a bit of the film I couldn’t bare the narration, a soporific rambling by the filmmaker that ruins what could otherwise be a decent film on the famous feminist novelist from Ottawa.

Disappointed, but not giving up, I recalled another powerful woman whose life has been shaped by her social activism, political punches and creativity. Marilyn Waring is a fine writer, a feminist, a political economist, and was New Zealand’s fifteenth woman elected to parliament in 1978. Waring has devoted books and her public life to challenging patriarchy and the global economic system, while focusing on the work of women the world over. In 2008 she became a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit “for her services to women and economics.” Academic, farmer, advocate for human rights and especially women’s and gay rights, Waring was an inspiration to me when I saw her in the excellent National Film Board of Canada documentary about her many years ago.

Who’s Counting? Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies and Global Economics, directed by Terre Nash and released in 1995, is a fabulous film that does justice to this dynamic woman and still stands the test of time to this day. The NFB has made the whole 94 minute feature available for streaming (above). From the film’s page at

In this feature-length documentary, Marilyn Waring demystifies the language of economics by defining it as a value system in which all goods and activities are related only to their monetary value. As a result, unpaid work (usually performed by women) is unrecognized while activities that may be environmentally and socially detrimental are deemed productive. To remedy this, Waring maps out an alternative economic vision based on the idea of time as the new currency.

So grab a cup of tea, sit back and enjoy this snapshot of one of the world’s most inspiring political people.

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