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Two women from different parts of the world, united by a common passion, experience or expertise, tell Kim Chakanetsa the stories of their lives.

Episode Date
Are women the key to an electric vehicle future?
Despite being more likely to be concerned about climate change women are less likely than men to buy an electric car, or to say that they plan to. But they could be key to driving growth in the industry. Kim Chakanetsa speaks to women from US and India about driving change and innovation in electric vehicles. Linda Zhang is the chief engineer responsible for leading the team delivering an all-electric version of Ford’s F-150 pickup truck, the best-selling pick-up truck in the world. Linda was born in China, she moved to the US as a child and followed her father to work at Ford where she’s been now for 26 years. The F-Series has 16.6 million trucks on the road in the US where it’s the country’s best-selling vehicle. The all-electric version was released 26 April 2022. Sulajja Firodia Motwani is CEO of Kinetic Green, a company based in Pune in India which specialises in electric three-wheelers and scooters. She says the industry is a vibrant one that offers huge opportunities for women. Produced by Jane Thurlow (Image: (L) Linda Zhang, credit Linda Zhang. (R) Sulajja Firodia, credit Sulajja Firodia.)
Oct 03, 2022
Women at the Polar opposite
Climate change is having a devastating impact on the North and the South Pole – melting glaciers and endangering the local wildlife. Kim Chakanetsa meets two women who are monitoring these changes closely. Hilde Fålun Strøm is an explorer and citizen scientist based in Longyearbyen, the world’s northernmost town in the Norwegian arctic. Hilde and her expedition partner, Sunniva Sorby, run Hearts in the Ice, a project raising awareness about climate change. In 2020 they became the first women-only team to overwinter in the High Arctic, where they gathered data for climate change research. Dr Irene Schloss is an Argentinian biologist based in Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city. She is a principal investigator with the National Council of the Research of Argentina, for the Instituto Antártico Argentino and the Austral Center of Scientific Research. She holds a PhD in biological oceanography and for the past 25 years has been monitoring the impact of climate change on plankton and other marine life in Antarctica. Produced by Alice Gioia (Image: (L) Hilde Fålun Strøm, credit Catherine Lemblé. (R) Irene Schloss, credit Jeremías Di Pietro.)
Sep 26, 2022
Women fighting fake news
Fake news can have harmful consequences for those who believe it - but why are women often the target of disinformation campaigns? Kim Chakanetsa meets two experts to discuss how disinformation affect the lives of women around the world. Paulina Ibarra is the Executive Director of Fundación Multitudes, a civil society organization based in Chile. She leads The Women’s Observatory Against Disinformation and Fake News, a project supporting women and members of underrepresented communities who decide to take leadership roles. Hannah Ajakaiye is an award-winning journalist from Nigeria. She’s currently a King Fellow with the International Center for Journalists, where she trains fact checkers across Africa and works with social media influencers to dispel myths and debunk fake news stories. Produced by Alice Gioia (Image: (L) Hannah Ajakaiye, credit Monsuru Tiamiyu. (R) Paulina Ibarra, credit Rosario Oddo.)
Sep 18, 2022
The women of flamenco
Flamenco is a complex Spanish artform that includes music, singing and dancing. People often associate it with expressive female dancers - but what role do women actually play in flamenco? Rosamaria Kostic Cisneros is a Spanish-Serbian-American dancer, sociologist and dance historian. Her family is of Roma origins and her mother taught her how to dance flamenco at a very young age. Rosa is a team member of the dance and Flamenco sections for the RomArchive, an international digital collection promoting and preserving Roma arts and culture, and a researcher at Coventry University’s Centre for Dance Research. Caroline Planté is a flamenco guitarist from Canada and one of the world’s leading female performers. She learnt to play from her father, a flamenco virtuoso, and started performing at the age of 14. After moving to Spain, where she accompanied the country’s top performers, she published 8 Reflexiones, and became the first woman to compose and record a solo flamenco album. Produced by Alice Gioia (Image: (L) Rosamaria Kostic Cisneros, credit Koko Zin Photography. (R) Caroline Planté, credit Hervé Leblay.)
Sep 12, 2022
Women raising the alarm on air pollution
It’s the third annual International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies on Wednesday 7 September. It’s aimed at raising public awareness at all levels of the urgent need to improve air quality. Air pollution is the largest contributor to the burden of disease from the environment, and is one of the main avoidable causes of death and disease globally – killing seven million people a year according to the World Health Organisation. Kim Chakanetsa talks to women from the UK and India who are calling on governments and industry to reduce air pollution. Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah's daughter Ella died, aged nine, after a violent asthma attack in 2013. Since then Rosamund has become one of the most prominent advocates for clean air worldwide. She challenged a coroner's inquest into her daughter's death and succeeded in getting the death certificate changed to show Ella had died as a result of air pollution. Rosamund is now a WHO BreatheLife ambassador and the founder, director, and trustee of the Ella Roberta Foundation. Bhavreen Kandhari lives in New Delhi - the most polluted capital city in the world. She has 18 year old twin daughters and is part of Warrior Moms – a group of women from across India connecting with other clean air campaigns globally to bring attention to the issue of air pollution. Produced by Jane Thurlow (Image: (L) Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, courtesy of Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah. (R) Bhavreen Kandhari, courtesy Bhavreen Kandhari.)
Sep 05, 2022
How to heal a broken heart
Have you ever had your heart broken? It can feel all-consuming and unbearable at points, and cause us physical pain. But why is this the case and how can we overcome it? Kim Chakanetsa finds out the answers from two women who are well versed in matters of the heart. Dr Lucy Brown is an American neuroscientist and clinical professor in Neurology at Einstein College of Medicine in New York, and she’s one of the first people ever to study the neuroscience of romantic love. Lucy is one of the co-creators of The Anatomy Of Love, a website exploring the meaning of romantic love and attachment. Julia Jacklin is an Australian singer songwriter who has written extensively about love and heartbreak. Her second studio album, Crushing, explores the intensity of love and the difficult process of having to let it go. Her latest album is Pre Pleasure. Produced by Emily Naylor and Alice Gioia (Image: (L) Lucy Brown, courtesy of Lucy Brown. (R) Julia Jacklin, credit Nick Mckk.)
Aug 29, 2022
Women growing grain
Most of us rely on farmers to produce our food and rising costs for farmers are leading to spiralling food prices. It's in part down to huge increases in the cost of fuel and fertiliser, shortages of labour and the pressures of a changing climate. Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women farmers from Australia and the UK about their love for the land, the responsibility of running a family farm and how they deal with the pressure. Katrina Sasse is an Australian cereal farmer and 2017 Nuffield Australia Scholar. She works on her large family farm and has a smaller bit of land herself. She questioned why, when addressing the shortage of farmers, nothing was focused on the capacity of farm daughters to become farmers. As part of her Nuffield research she travelled the world to interview farmers about the structural and cultural issues within agriculture that need to change for the gender gap to close. Sarah Bell manages her family’s mixed arable farm in the English Midlands along with her husband and parents. Unusually she’s the one who’s running the family farm despite having a brother – but he didn’t want to go into farming. She also runs a consultancy business to agricultural food industry businesses and other farmers two days a week to supplement the farm income. She jokes there are more men called Mark on boards in the grain trade than there are women. Her key principle is ‘farm profitably and tread lightly’. Produced by Jane Thurlow (Image: (L) Katrina Sasse, credit: Kim Storey. (R) Sarah Bell, credit: Sonara Studios Oakham Rutland.)
Aug 22, 2022
Women at the negotiating table
Women play a crucial role in peace building processes around the world, but their role is rarely recognised. Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women who build bridges between communities at war with each other. Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer led the peace talks between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. In 2014 she made history by becoming the first woman chief negotiator to sign a major peace accord with an armed group. She taught political science at the University of the Philippines and works on mediation initiatives with different international organisations. Ameya Kilara is a lawyer and mediator from India whose work focuses on facilitating dialogue across the Line of Control in Kashmir. She’s currently working with the NGO Inter Mediate and is the Founder and Director of the South Asian Leadership Initiative, a programme dedicated to building peace in the region. She’s also a member of Women Mediators across the Commonwealth, a network supporting women-led peace building initiatives. Produced by Alice Gioia (Image: (L) Ameya Kilara, courtesy of Ameya Kilara. (R) Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, courtesy of Miriam Coronel-Ferrer)
Aug 15, 2022
Women crossing borders and seeking refuge
According to the United Nations, at the end of 2021, 89.4 million people around the world had been forced to flee their homes as a result of persecution, conflict, human rights violations or other events. Among them are nearly 27.1 million refugees. Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women from Afghanistan and Zimbabwe about having to leave their country. Hajira Zaman is 29 years old and left Afghanistan in November 2021. She’d been working in a dentist’s clinic when the Taliban entered the clinic and told her she couldn’t work with a male doctor – unless she took her husband, brother or father with her. After threats from the Taliban she, her husband and young son fled the country. Hajira was nine months pregnant and had her baby shortly after arriving in Pakistan. Nyasha Masi is a refugee from Zimbabwe living in Cape Town. She was abused by her family for being gay and forced into marriage. She made the devastating decision to leave without her three year old daughter and escaped to South Africa. She now works with the charity Safe Place International and has set up her own group for LGBTI+ refugees called Pachedu. Her daughter (now a teenager) has joined her. Produced by Jane Thurlow (Image: (L) Nyasha Masi, courtesy Nyasha Masi. (R) Hajira Zaman, courtesy Hajira Zaman.)
Aug 08, 2022
Leaving my religion
When doubt creeps in about the faith you’ve grown up in and nobody will tolerate your questions, when you look at your life ahead mapped out by others and wonder where your ambitions fit - how do you step away? Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women from Tanzania and Scotland about leaving their religion. Zara Kay grew up in Tanzania in a strict Muslim family. She faced disapproval when she chose not to wear a hijab, for moving abroad to study, and for her career as an IT engineer. But the abuse she received after expressing support for gay marriage exposed such hate in her community that she left the religion. On a recent trip to visit family in Tanzania she was arrested. She now lives in Sweden and works with an online organisation, Faithless Hijabi, supporting other former-Muslims. Ali Millar was raised in a community of Jehovah’s Witness in Scotland - spending Saturdays knocking on doors trying to convert people. As a teenager she struggled with trying to fit in at school and make friends while at the same time obeying the rules of her religion. Married young she wasn't allowed to follow the career she dreamed of. Realising her daughter would face the same restricted life, she walked out on the religion and hasn't seen her mother or sister since. Ali’s book about her experience is called The Last Days. Produced by Jane Thurlow (Image: (L) Zara Kay, credit Andrew Bott Phototherapy. (R) Ali Millar, courtesy Ebury Press.)
Aug 01, 2022
Searching for missing women
What would you do if a loved one went missing? Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women whose lives have been touched by a missing person’s case, and now help other families find answers. Dr Chung Pham is an anti-trafficking specialist from Vietnam. When she was a teenager, she stopped the initial abduction of a schoolmate, who was later trafficked into China. After relocating to the UK, Chung became an advocate for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, often victims of trafficking or modern slavery. This inspired her to join Locate International, a charity helping relatives of missing people find their loved ones. Dr Michelle Jeanis is an assistant professor in the Criminal Justice department at University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Her research focuses on the best practices to help locate people who disappear and on the media coverage of missing people’s cases. She decided to study this topic after her friend’s sister, Mickey Shunik, disappeared in 2012. Produced by Alice Gioia (Image: (L) Michelle Jeanis, credit Scarlett Davis. (R) Chung Pham, credit Hong Van.)
Jul 25, 2022
Powered by women: Lineworkers
Kim Chakanetsa meets two women who bring electricity to communities in the US and New Zealand. Maureen Miller is a listener from Wisconsin in the US who got in touch to tell us why she is so passionate about being a journeyman lineman. She talks about bringing power to communities devastated by hurricanes and floods and she tells us about the skills required to do this extremely dangerous work. Laisa Pickering-Bryant is the first female distribution line mechanic at her company to work on live high voltage lines. She was born and raised on the Fiji Islands and she currently lives in Auckland, New Zealand. Laisa is also part of Connexis, a project training and mentoring women working in infrastructure. Produced by Alice Gioia (Image: (L) Maureen Miller, credit courtesy of Maureen Miller. (R) Laisa Pickering-Bryant, credit courtesy of Laisa Pickering-Bryant.)
Jul 18, 2022
Why women's friendships last
Why are friends who are always there for you so important? Kim Chakanetsa meets two women who’ve put friendships at the heart of their work to make hugely successful TV series. Marta Kauffman is a TV executive producer and co-creator of Friends and Grace and Frankie. Her ground-breaking shows, which have friendships at their core, have revolutionised the world of TV series and have broken taboos. Nicole Amarteifio is a Ghanaian film director and screenwriter. She’s best known for her show An African City, which chronicles the adventures of five female friends who return to live in Ghana after spending time abroad. The story is autobiographical and one of the main actors is Nicole's childhood friend. Produced by Alice Gioia (Image: (L) Marta Kauffman, credit Okay Goodnight. (R) Nicole Amarteifio, credit Emmanuel Bobbie.)
Jul 11, 2022
Women tackling the global plastic crisis
Two women confronting the dangers of plastic pollution talk to Kim Chakanetsa. They’re sounding the alarm and working on innovative solutions: from an island clear-up that collected 750,000 empty plastic bottles to reducing microplastics in the air and waterways. Estrela Matilde lives on the island of Príncipe off the coast of West Africa – where her work to reduce plastic pollution has helped increase the number of turtle nests by more than 40 percent to 2,500 over six years. Estrela is a Whitley Fund for Nature winner 2022. Siobhan Anderson is a co-founder of a start-up called The Tyre Collective. They're working to find a solution to the plastic pollution caused by tyre wear. The waste from tyres as they degrade is the second largest microplastic pollutant in the environment – making up to 28% of primary microplastics in our oceans, as well as contributing to airborne pollution. Siobhan is from California in the United States and is now based in London. Produced by Jane Thurlow (Image: (L) Estrela Matilde, credit Fundação Príncipe & Yves Rocher Award. (R) Siobhan Anderson, courtesy Siobhan Anderson.)
Jul 04, 2022
Women living with life-changing diabetes
There is no known cure for type 1 diabetes. Usually diagnosed in childhood, people’s experiences differ considerably depending on where they live and their access to adequate treatment and care. Without them, complications can arise which in the most severe cases result in death. Kim Chakanetsa speaks to two women from Brazil and Australia to see how their experiences with the chronic condition compare. Janina Gaudin, from New Zealand, is an illustrator of comics about life with Type 1 Diabetes. She uses humour to document the realities of diabetes and discuss the stigma surrounding it as well as the insulin crisis. Beatriz Scher is an entrepreneur and digital influencer from Brazil. She has had type 1 diabetes for 21 years and believes that education is vital so that people can live fulfilled, healthy and happy lives. Beatriz uses her social media channels to raise awareness about the condition. Produced by Emily Naylor and Jane Thurlow (Image: (L) Beatriz Scher, courtesy of Beatriz Scher. (R) Janina Gaudin, courtesy Janina Gaudin.)
Jun 27, 2022
Rat catchers: Women in pest control
Many people are scared of insects, reptiles and rodents and certainly wouldn't choose to work with them. Not today's guests. Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women working in pest control about their passion for the job and the ingenuity and adaptability of some household pests. Patricia Page's father was reluctant to let his daughter join the family business. He didn't think rat catching was a job for women. But when the factory in Northern Ireland she worked at closed down he relented and she too became a pest controller. She loves her job because of the difference she can make to people's lives - she says sometimes it's 80% counselling, 20% pest control. Regine Lim is an entomologist from Malaysia and the first woman to become president of her country's pest control association, the MPMA. After leaving university she worked in the pest control industry for ten years before setting up her own company. She's since sold it to the firm she now works for. Regine actively encourages women to join the profession saying you never stop learning and having to come up with new solutions as pests are always adapting. (Image: (L) Patricia Page, courtesy of Patricia Page. (R) Regine Lim, courtesy Regine Lim)
Jun 23, 2022
Our journey to sobriety
Alcoholism is a global health issue which each year results in millions of deaths. Kim Chakanetsa speaks to two women to discuss the realities of addiction and compare their different paths to sobriety. Danijela Kovac from Canada gave up alcohol nearly 12 years ago. Years into sobriety, Danijela became frustrated at the lack of choice for non-alcoholic beverages for adults and created her own non-alcoholic wine company, Teetotaler Wines. Desiree-Anne Martin from South Africa is a recovering addict with over 17 years of sobriety. She is also an author, poet and addictions and trauma counsellor. She has written a memoir, We Don’t Talk About It. Ever, about her struggles with mental health difficulties and overcoming drug and alcohol addiction. Produced by Emily Naylor and Alice Gioia. (Image: (L), Danijela Kovac, courtesy of Danijela Kovac. (R), Desiree-Anne Martin, credit Benita Rixton.)
Jun 13, 2022
Detectorists: Women finding treasure
Many of us as children dream of finding a treasure map and digging up gold and precious jewels. For some that longing never goes away. Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women from the UK and Canada who spend their free time using metal detectors to search for treasure. In November 2021, a British nurse called Elizabeth Bailey discovered a tiny gold book while out with her metal detector. She first thought it was from a charm bracelet but, engraved with two figures thought to be the patron saints of childbirth, it's believed the charm could have been given to a wealthy pregnant woman between 1280 and 1410, when it was illegal for anyone besides the nobility to own gold. Alison Walker uses her hobby of metal detecting to recover lost jewellery and keys for people around Ontario in Canada where she lives. Instead of taking a reward for finding precious belongings she asks that people 'pay-it-forward' to a breast cancer charity. She belongs to an international organisation called The Ring Finders and took up the pass-time 11 years ago after bidding for a metal detector in a charity auction.
Jun 06, 2022
Can a book change a young woman’s life?
Can a book change a young woman’s life? Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women in the publishing world about the importance of writing stories that inspire and empower girls. Nnedi Okorafor is an award-winning Nigerian-American writer of fantasy and science fiction for both children and adults. Her books have strong female leads and draw inspiration from her Nigerian roots. Nnedi has also written comics for Marvel: she was the first woman to write the character of T'challa, the Black Panther, and she wrote a series about his tech loving sister, Shuri. She is a recipient of the World Fantasy, Hugo and Nebula Awards. Mel Mazman is the chief product officer at Rebel Girls, a franchise publishing books and digital content aimed at empowering young women. The company started in 2016, with a crowdfunding campaign for Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, a book featuring the stories of 100 inspirational women. Since then, they sold 7.5 million books in over 100 countries. Mel shares her insights on how the publishing industry is changing to cater for the needs and interests of younger generations of readers. Produced by Alice Gioia. (Image: (L), Mel Mazman, courtesy Rebel Girls. (R), Nnedi Okorafor, courtesy of Nnedi Okorafor.)
May 30, 2022
Female collectives and neighbourhood feminists
Collectives offer opportunities for like-minded individuals to unite over a common goal, approaching issues with a shared vision and democratic mindset. They can range in size from just a handful of people to thousands, and they have the ability to disrupt the status quo and be vessels for remarkable change. But what’s it like to start one? Kim Chakanetsa speaks to two women who have founded female collectives making a difference. Aya Chebbi is a Tunisian diplomat and a pan-African and feminist activist. Named in Forbes Africa’s 50 Most Powerful Women, she rose to global prominence as a political blogger during Tunisia’s Revolution in 2010/2011. In November 2018 she became the first appointed African Union Envoy on Youth, and was the youngest senior official in the history of the African Union. In 2021, Aya established the Nala Feminist Collective, which brings together 17 acclaimed African feminists to unite behind Africa’s agenda nationally and globally. Camila Montecinos Díaz is a Psychologist and therapist from Chile. She moved to the Netherlands four years ago where she co-founded Neighborhood Feminists, a collective based in Amsterdam which helps combat period poverty. They provide Dignity Kits with menstrual products and basic toiletries. Currently, they help over one hundred people each month and in total have distributed over 80,000 tampons. Produced by Emily Naylor and Alice Gioia (Image: (L), Aya Chebbi, courtesy Aya Chebbi. (R), Camila Montecinos Diaz, courtesy Camila Montecinos Diaz.)
May 23, 2022
Tracing forgotten female ancestors
Kim Chakanetsa meets two genealogists passionate about uncovering the forgotten stories of their clients' female ancestors. Kenyatta D Berry is a lawyer and genealogist from the USA. She is the author of The Family Tree Toolkit and the co-host of The Genealogy Roadshow on PBS. She caught the genealogy bug by chance, when she started looking into her ex-boyfriend’s family history. She is an expert on African American ancestry and on the specific challenges people who descend from enslaved individuals face when looking into their families’ past. At the age of 15, Belgian Marie Cappart started looking into her country’s national archives to find out more about her great-aunt, Maggie Nicholls. During WWII, Maggie helped three Canadian pilots survive in Nazi-occupied Belgium. She was later arrested and killed because of that. Marie went on to graduate in history and wrote several books, including Guide to Genealogy in Belgium. She is also the country manager for the online genealogy platform MyHeritage and she helps other people track down their ancestors. Produced by Alice Gioia (Image: (L), Marie Cappart, courtesy Marie Cappart. (R), Kenyatta D Berry, courtesy Kenyatta D Berry.)
May 16, 2022
Women in the world of animation
From the first moving drawings that appeared on screens back in the 1930s to the highly imaginative, emotionally resonant filmmaking of today – animation has come a long way. It is no longer considered a pleasant cinematic distraction for kids. In fact, some of the boldest, most creative and slyly subversive filmmaking can be found in animation. Kim Chakanetsa speaks to two women responsible for bringing animated characters to life. María Cecilia Botero is an actor from Colombia whose career spans five decades. She has experience in everything from performing musical theater, to being a news anchor, to starring in popular telenovelas, to dubbing commercials and most recently voicing the character of the Abuela in the Oscar-Winning Disney film Encanto. Signe Baumane is a Latvian animator based in Brooklyn. Her first of many short stories was published in a local newspaper when she was 14. She went on to illustrate children’s books and create sets for puppet theaters. Since she moved to the United States to further pursue animation, Signe has written, directed and animated 15 shorts and two animated films. Her work has been showcased at over 300 film festivals. She uses animation to confront difficult, adult topics, like “Rocks In my Pockets”, which she also voiced, which covers the 100 year history of her family in Latvia. Produced by Emily Naylor. (Image: (L), María Cecilia Botero , courtesy of María Cecilia Botero. (R), Signe Baumane, courtesy of Signe Baumane.)
May 09, 2022
Why was I adopted? Women looking for birth stories
What's it like being adopted into a country far away from your birth and into a family that looks very different to you? International and transracial adoptions both come with challenges for children and parents. Beatriz de la Pava talks to two women born in Colombia and South Korea about trying to fit in and discovering more about their roots. Janine Vance was adopted from Seoul by an American couple along with her twin sister when they were six months old. A trip to South Korea in 2004 to an event marking 50 years of intercountry adoption caused her to think more deeply about her heritage. She found out that while most adoptees had been told they were orphans, this wasn't the case and parents were looking for them. She's written several books about adoption and wants to make the process of international adoption more transparent. Yennifer Dallmann Villa was adopted from Colombia by a German couple when she was two years old. She always had a passion to know more about where she'd come from and as an adult discovered a huge online community of adoptees searching for birth families and origin stories. In her 20s she went to Colombia to photograph and write about First Mothers looking for children who'd been taken and adopted. She featured on a TV programme there which helped her find her birth family and is currently living in Colombia. Produced by Jane Thurlow (Image: (Top Left), Janine Vance, courtesy Janine Vance. (Top Right), Yennifer Dallmann Villa, credit Ina Busch. (Bottom Right), Yennifer Dallmann Villa with her birth grandmother and family in Colombia, courtesy Yennifer Dallmann Villa.)
May 02, 2022
Magic in the mind
It’s scientifically impossible to read minds, so how do some magicians seem to do it? Beatriz de la Pava delves into the world of mentalism with two renowned women mentalists who regularly amaze and mystify audiences around the world. Ava Do is a magician, mentalist and deceptionist from Vietnam who moved to the United States at thirteen years old. Growing up navigating two different cultural identities, she became fascinated with the subjects of perception and social psychology. After studying Psychobiology at UCLA and working as a crisis counsellor, Ava has spent the last decade turning her academic background and real-world experience with human behavior into a unique style of entertainment. Kruti Parekh from India began her professional career as a magician at an early age. As a child, Kruti performed on national television, and at the age of eleven she received the FIE Foundation National Award. She has been hailed the “youngest female mentalist in Asia”. Currently, she works as a motivational speaker for corporate events and impresses audiences with her skills as a mentalist. Produced by Emily Naylor. (Image: (L), Kruti Parekh, courtesy Kruti Parekh. (R), Ava Do, courtesy Ava Do.)
Apr 25, 2022
Women watching birds
Beatriz de la Pava talks to birdwatchers from Zimbabwe and Uruguay about their passion for birdlife. Zimbabwean ornithologist Merlyn Nomsa Nkomo was on her way to secure a work placement to study wild dogs as part of her degree when she went birdwatching for the first time. It changed her life and she went to work in a vulture rehabilitation centre instead. She's now studying for a PhD in conservation biology in the Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology at the University of Cape Town. She writes and blogs about her passion for raptors and is keen to bring more black women into the world of birdwatching. Florencia Ocampo started bird watching in Uruguay as a teenager after coming across baby falcons in a street market. While teaching herself falconry from books she became fascinated by the birdlife around her. Motivated by conservation issues she started birding and became a biologist. As well as doing ornithological research she now runs her own tour guide company, Birding With Me. (IMAGE: (L) Florencia Ocampo, courtesy of Florencia Ocampo. (R) Merlyn Nomsa Nkomo, credit Linda Nordling.)
Apr 18, 2022
Women who puzzle
Millions of people around the world love doing puzzles, and since the pandemic they’ve become even more popular. From complex sudoku grids to cryptic clues in crosswords, and recent viral sensations like Wordle, we have long been intrigued by them and make time to pursue them in our daily or weekly routines. But, for some, puzzles are much more than a pastime. What’s it like to solve sudoku competitively or create crosswords for a living? And can puzzles be a space for feminist expression? Kim Chakanetsa speaks to two women to find out. Tantan Dai from China is one of the world’s fastest sudoku solvers. What was once just an elective taken at school swiftly developed into a professional undertaking. She twice won gold in the under 18 category at the World Sudoku Championship. She’s currently based in the USA, where she’s studying mathematics. Anna Shechtman from the United States had her first crossword published in the New York Times at the age of 19 and is now a crossword compiler for The New Yorker. She is also a Klarman Fellow at Cornell University and will begin as an assistant professor in the Department of Literatures in English in 2024. Produced by Emily Naylor and Alice Gioia. (IMAGE: (L), Anna Shechtman, courtesy of Emily Shechtman. (R), Tantan Dai, courtesy of Tantan Dai)
Apr 11, 2022
How to be a beauty influencer
In the world of social media anyone can feel like a friend and become influential - and the internet is full of women giving tips on how to look your best. Kim talks to two beauty influencers with thousands of followers about why they share their lives online and what they get out of it. Dimma Umeh is from Nigeria and shares make up tips for women of colour. She's been creating content on her social media channels for eight years and has hundreds of thousands of followers. Her videos go from eyebrow-shaping tutorials and getting ready for a night out in Lagos, to going on a shopping trip and detailing how she's decorated her apartment. Rammal Mehmud is a photographer turned make-up artist in Pakistan. Based in Islamabad she has an Instagram and YouTube account called Le BeautyAffair. As well as make-up tips she uses her skills as a make-up artist to come up with wildly creative looks – turning herself from The Mona Lisa to Captain Jack Sparrow to a plate of fruit and veg. She says make-up helped get her through a rough patch and she shares content to help others with their confidence and mental health. Produced by Jane Thurlow (Image: (L), Dimma Umeh, courtesy Dimma Umeh. (R), Rammal Mehmud, courtesy Rammal Mehmud.)
Apr 04, 2022
Women with a clear vision
According to the World Health Organisation, over two billion people around the world have a vision impairment which could often be preventable or treatable. Women and girls are more likely to experience vision loss, which limits their access to education and work opportunities. Today we meet two women who are trying to change things, one pair of glasses at a time. Dr Priya Morjaria is a public health optometrist from Tanzania. She’s an Assistant Professor of International Eye Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Chair of the Public Health Committee at the World Council of Optometry. She is also Head of Global Programme Design at Peek Vision, a social enterprise that develops digital tools to help eye health services in Africa and Asia connect more people to care. Dr May Ho is a Malaysian-Australian optometrist with over 30 years experience in public and international eye health. She has worked in the development of sustainable eye care and education programmes in Vietnam, Cambodia, in the Pacific Islands and in Africa. She’s currently the Optometry and Primary Care Adviser at The Fred Hollows Foundation. (Image: (L), Priya Morjaria, credit Anne Koerber. (R), Dr May Ho, credit William Orr)
Mar 28, 2022
Powered by women: Wind turbines
Kim Chakanetsa talks to two engineers from Brazil and Kenya about generating energy for the future. Wangari Muchiri is based in Nairobi. Wangari works for the Global Wind Energy Council and is coordinating the wind industry’s efforts across the African continent. As well as monitoring the construction of vast wind power plants, she works with donors, government agencies and local communities to deliver innovative sustainable energy projects in rural areas. Luany Gomes Dantas is based in Rio de Janeiro, working on global floating offshore wind projects for OWC, an ABL company. Luany is a naval architect and marine engineer. She’s monitoring the Brazilian offshore wind market and supporting the business development of the sector in the country. Produced by Jane Thurlow (Image: (L), Wangari Muchiri, courtesy Wangari Muchiri. (R), Luany Dantas, courtesy Luany Dantas)
Mar 21, 2022
Women shooting award-winning movies
Kim Chakanetsa meets two pioneering cinematographers who bring stories about women to the big screen. Rachel Morrison is the first female cinematographer to be nominated for an Oscar for her work on Mudbound, and she’s the only woman who’s ever shot a superhero blockbuster movie (Black Panther). Rachel now focuses on strong female characters: she worked on Seberg, a biopic on the iconic actor Jean Seberg, and is currently shooting a movie about Claressa ‘T-Rex’ Shields, the first woman to win an Olympic gold for boxing. Lilia Sellami is a French and Tunisian director of photography and camera operator. She worked on international Hollywood productions, like Star Wars and Men in Black. She is now based in Northern Africa where she collaborates with female directors to tell the stories of women fighting for their rights. A feature she’s recently worked on, Dying to Divorce, was the UK’s official entry for the Best International Feature Film category at the 2022 Academy Awards. Produced by Alice Gioia (Image: (L), Rachel Morrison, credit Rachel Porter. (R), Lilia Sellami, courtesy of Lilia Sellami)
Mar 14, 2022
Women and the appeal of advertising
Our lives, how we spend our money and the decisions we make, are often guided by the advertisements we see - whether that's on the streets we walk around or on our screens. Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women from Brazil and the UK who are in the business of influencing our choices. Ana Balarin is co-executive creative director at Wieden & Kennedy Portland, US. She works with her husband, Hermeti. After training as a physiotherapist and moving to the UK from Brazil, she switched to a career in advertising. As executive creative director she oversaw work for clients such as Ikea, KFC and Stella Artois - and ran projects like #FreeTheFeed, confronting taboos around breastfeeding in public. Imogen Tazzyman is one of only 3% of female executive creative directors in the UK. An ECD at McCann Manchester she's overseeing adverts for high street retailers like Aldi and Matalan. She's passionate about encouraging more women into the industry and supporting them to rise to the top: working on the first ever creative apprenticeship scheme, to open up the industry to those without a degree, and Represent Creative - an initiative using social media help those without experience or family links get a look-in. Produced by Jane Thurlow (Image: (L) Imogen Tazzyman, credit Craft, Manchester. (R) Ana Balarin credit Sofija Vujanic.)
Mar 07, 2022
Women running family businesses
Family businesses play a crucial role in economies across the world. It is estimated that they account for more than half of global GDP – but few family firms are led by women. Kim Chakanetsa meets two women who’ve become the first females in their family to take over at the top. Caroline Fattal Fakhoury is on the Board of Directors of the Fattal Group in Lebanon. The firm started as a small company in Syria in 1897, and it went on to become one of the leading distributors in the Middle East, delivering food, beauty and pharmaceutical products across eight countries. She was the first woman to join the family business in 100 years and was named one of the region’s most powerful women by Forbes Middle East. She’s also the founder of Stand for Women, an NGO supporting women’s economic empowerment. Priyanka Gupta Zielinski is the executive director of MPIL Steel Structures, a steel manufacturing company with headquarters in India and the UAE. Priyanka joined her father’s company in 2008, when she was in her 20s - one of the very few women working in this sector. Under her lead, the company was completely transformed, grew and branched out in other countries. Priyanka wrote a book - The Ultimate Family Business Survival Guide - and is a member of Women in Family Business, an initiative providing support and networking opportunities to women around the world. Produced by Alice Gioia. (Image: (L) Caroline Fattal, credit Michel Rawadi. (R) Priyanka Gupta courtesy Priyanka Gupta.)
Feb 28, 2022
Dementia: Women breaking the silence
How can we help people with dementia? Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women from Singapore and the UK about how they’ve adapted to living with the condition and why they now want to help others understand dementia better. Wendy Mitchell was diagnosed with young onset dementia at the age of 58. She wrote a bestselling memoir, Somebody I Used to Know about the slow realisation that she was changing, and the adaptations she needed to make to her life to cope. She's a vocal advocate for people with Alzheimer's and other dementia and promotes better understanding and care. Surprised by the lack of information available to her and her family, she's written a second book, What I Wish People Knew About Dementia. Emily Ong is from East Malaysia but now lives in Singapore. She first noticed something was wrong when she forgot how to make French toast, but it took her years to get a proper diagnosis for young onset dementia. Now 54 years old, she advocates for greater understanding of the disease and belongs to the Voices for Hope programme, helping people who are newly diagnosed or already have dementia. She says it's rare for Asians to speak about dementia and it's important to be open and spread understanding. Produced by Jane Thurlow (Image: (L) Wendy Mitchell, credit Jo Hanley. (R) Emily Ong, credit Clara Tan/The Perfect Statement)
Feb 21, 2022
How to find the perfect wedding dress
Of the many different items of clothing a woman will wear throughout her life, there is perhaps none loaded with so much significance as her wedding dress, and finding the perfect one can be an enormous source of stress. Kim Chakanetsa meets two wedding designers who help women dial down that pressure by helping bring their bridal visions to life. Yasmine Yeya is the founder of Masion Yeya, a couture atelier in Dubai. She was raised in Egypt by a family of French descent and her heritage is reflected in her elegant and unique style, which is a blend of European and Middle Eastern influences. Nneka Alexander is the founder of Brides by Nona. What started out as a dress making favour for her twin sister has turned into a sought-after bridal business with its signature gowns of intricate detail and bead work. She’s originally from Nigeria and she’s based in Atlanta, in the United States. Produced by Alice Gioia (Image: wedding dresses, courtesy of Maison Yeya and Brides by Nona.)
Feb 14, 2022
The miscarriage that changed my life
It is estimated that one in four pregnancies will end in a miscarriage. But despite being a common occurrence, this topic is still shrouded in secrecy, stigma and shame. Kim Chakanetsa meets two women who are using their first-hand experience to help other people heal. Wanjiru Kihusa is a maternal health advocate from Kenya who lost two of her three children through miscarriage. She’s the founder of Still A Mum, a charity offering support to parents who have lost their babies. She also trains health care workers, religious leaders and managers to better support grieving parents. Paula Ávila-Guillen is a human rights lawyer from Colombia and the Executive Director at the Women’s Equality Center, a non-profit based in New York. Since 2014, Paula has been working in El Salvador, a country where a strict abortion ban led to 181 women being imprisoned after having obstetric emergencies – including in cases where they said they had suffered miscarriages or stillbirths. In 2019, Paula had a miscarriage herself – an experience that brought her even closer to the women she works with. Produced by Alice Gioia (Image: (L) Paula Ávila-Guillen, credit Pablo Salgado. (R) Wanjiru Kihusa, courtesy Wanjiru Kihusa)
Feb 07, 2022
Rock on! The art of dry stone walling
Dry stone walling is an ancient craft that goes back thousands of years and remains an important means of enclosing fields in rural areas of Europe, and of constructing terraces for agriculture in more mountainous regions. But it’s a craft, along with other countryside skills, that’s practiced by fewer people these days. Kim Chakanetsa speaks to two women from the US and Italy about their passion for building beautiful walls. Serena Cattaneo is from Genoa Northern Italy where the walls helped establish terraces for olive and vine groves in the mountains. She started dry stone walling five years ago and now, as well as working restoring walls, she also teaches the skill at workshops. She’s passionate about the trade and keen to develop a women’s network as she’s yet to meet another female waller in Italy. Whitney Brown was 26 years old when she met a dry stone waller at a festival in Washington, within weeks she was out on the hill with him in Wales wielding a hammer and learning everything she could about the craft. She’s since taken her skills back to the United States where she teaches others, but returns as often as she can to work in the UK. Produced by Jane Thurlow (Image: (L) Serena Cattaneo, credit Serena Cattaneo. (R) Whitney Brown, courtesy Whitney Brown. Background: wall in Sori, credit Serena Cattaneo.)
Jan 31, 2022
Saving lives in the mountains
Mountain rescue volunteers are a rare breed: they’re on call 24/7, ready to risk their lives to save hikers and skiers who get stuck on the mountains. Kim Chakanetsa meets two women who lead perilous rescue missions in Canada and in the UK. Kirsty Pallas is a mountaineering and climbing instructor based in Scotland. In 2014 she joined the Oban Mountain Rescue Team, where she’s a callout manager and a training officer. She’s also the founder of Our Shared Outdoors, an organisation set up to tackle and change the lack of diversity in the outdoors and promote underrepresented groups. Kayla Brolly is an emergency room nurse and a crew member with North Shore Rescue, the busiest volunteer search and rescue organisation in Canada. She’s been involved in countless rescue operations in the popular hiking and skiing mountains north of Vancouver. In December 2017, whilst taking part in a delicate rescue mission on a steep slope, she suffered a severe head injury. Produced by Alice Gioia for BBC World Service.
Jan 24, 2022
Women curating culture
Men run most of world's cultural institutions, but in recent years more women have been given top jobs at leading galleries and museums. Kim Chakanetsa speaks to two women from Australia and Germany about the importance of getting a woman's view on what's worth displaying and history worth preserving. Margot Neale Ngawagurrawa is an Aboriginal Australian curator and one of the world's leading experts on Aboriginal history and culture. She's Head Indigenous Curator at the National Museum Australia and has spent seven years bringing together historical and cultural stories of the Aboriginal peoples which till now have only existed in oral form. The resulting exhibition, Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters is now on a global tour – and in Plymouth, UK till the end of February 2022. Dr Stephanie Rosenthal has been director of Gropius Bau in Berlin, Germany since 2018. She studied art history and her work since then has focused on contemporary art and performance. The Gropius Bau has recently tackled the subjects of humanity’s relationship to nature, exploitative extraction processes and ‘how plants practice politics’. Produced by Jane Thurlow (Image: (L) Stephanie Rosenthal, credit Mathias Voelzke. (R) Margot Neale Ngawagurrawa, courtesy Margot Neale Ngawagurrawa. Background: Maruku Arts by Niningka Lewis.)
Jan 17, 2022
Women in sound
Sound is everywhere around us: from blockbuster Hollywood films to live music events, from broadcasting the news to speaking with astronauts in space. For every broadcast, big or small, there are engineers and sound designers working behind the scenes to make sure you get the highest audio quality possible. Kim Chakanetsa explores the world of audio production with two of the best in this field. Nina Hartstone is a supervising sound editor based in the UK. Over the course of her career Nina has received some of the industry’s highest awards - including an Oscar and a BAFTA Award for the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody in 2019. She is also known for her work on the films Gravity, Cats and An Education. Alexandria Perryman is a live broadcast engineer at NASA's Johnson Space Center, where she supports astronauts with all-things audio: from helping them communicate with mission control to facilitating media interviews. She won an Emmy Award for her work on the coverage of SpaceX’s Demonstration Mission 1 – the first orbital test of the Dragon 2 spacecraft. Produced by Alice Gioia. Sound editing by Sue Maillot. (Image: (L) Alexandria Perryman, credit Norah Moran/NASA. (R) Nina Hartstone, credit Getty Images. The background image is the waveform of the opening six seconds of an episode of The Conversation.)
Jan 10, 2022
Women in the chocolate business
Kim Chakanetsa speaks to two women who are making chocolate production both more sustainable and equitable. Vicki Bain is a South African chocolatier from Johannesburg who blends Belgian chocolate with the finest local and fresh African ingredients. Five years ago, Vicki left her job in environmental consulting to learn the craft of artisan chocolate making in Brussels. Her company, Chocoloza, is staffed only by women and has environmental and social concerns at its core. Treena Tecson from the Philippines is a professional chocolate taster and tree-to-bar chocolate maker. In 2017, Treena used her social media account to document the art and science of chocolate making. What started as a hobby soon turned into a small business - True Chocolate PH - and now Treena is also involved in cacao farming and post-harvest processing. Produced by Emily Naylor and Alice Gioia (Image: (L) Vicki Bain. (R) Treena Tecson, courtesy of Treena Tecson.)
Jan 03, 2022
Musical child prodigies
Very few people in the world are blessed with exceptional musical talent that is apparent from an early age. What is childhood like in the spotlight, especially as a young woman? To find out, Kim Chakanetsa meets two musicians whose careers began when they were children. Tosin Jegede was a child singing sensation in Nigeria in the 1980s. She released her first solo album in 1985 when just five years old, and went on to release two more before her teenage years. From hiding from adoring fans, flying all over the country to perform and singing in front of Nelson Mandela, her childhood was anything but ordinary and she had to cope with publicity which went well beyond her music and its performance. Twenty-year-old Sujari Britt is a classical cellist from the United States. She began learning the instrument at the age of four, having already studied the violin and the piano. A year later, Sujari started performing in a professional capacity with her sibling trio. By the time she was eight, she had played at the White House for President Obama. Sujari has performed at renowned venues such as Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden, and with reputable orchestras in Europe, Asia, Canada and the USA. Produced by Emily Naylor and Jane Thurlow (Image: (L) Tosin Jegede, credit Tosin Jegede. (R) Sujari Britt, credit Jamie Jung.)
Dec 27, 2021
Leading women in song
Singing is said to improve your mood, relieve stress, help you sleep better and produce pain-relieving endorphins - as well as improving posture and boost immunity and lung function! Kim Chakanetsa finds out more about the benefits of singing together, and the strange world of choir competitions. Adwoa Dickson is from Jamaica. She is Choir Director for The Amies Freedom Choir, in the UK, which supports women who've survived trafficking. Singing in the choir helps the women relax and regain confidence as they explore songs and musical styles from each others' cultures and languages. Finnish choir director, Marjukka Riihimäki established the women’s choir, Philomela in 1984 and has taken their distinctive sound around the world, working with a composer and choreographer to give them a unique stage presence. Philomela won the Female Chamber Choir competition at the World Choir Games in Riga in 2014. Since retiring as a music teacher Marjukka also works with people in sheltered housing who have dementia. Produced by Jane Thurlow (Image: (L) Marjukka Riihimäki, credit Maarit Kytöharju. (R) Adwoa Dickson, courtesy Adwoa Dickson.)
Dec 20, 2021
Women making city transport safe
It is not easy to be a woman on public transport. Across the world, you will hear reports of women being harassed, groped and even sexually assaulted. This has an enormous impact on women being able to take up employment and education opportunities, as well as accessing healthcare. Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women who are trying to change this. Angie Palacios is a Gender and Transport Specialist at CAF – Development Bank of Latin America. Her work focuses on researching and supporting projects that can improve women and girls’ safety on public transport. She’s originally from Ecuador but she’s now based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Joanie Fredericks is an activist and entrepreneur from South Africa who recently set up Ladies Own Transport - an initiative providing safe transport options for women in Cape Flats, a crime hotspot in Cape Town. Joanie, a survivor of violence herself, had previously set up a women-only driving school. Thanks to her, nearly a 100 women have managed to get their drivers’ licences. Produced by Alice Gioia (Image: (L) Angie Palacios, credit Angie Palacios. (R) Joanie Fredericks, credit Joanie Fredericks.)
Dec 13, 2021
Unstoppable women of rugby
The first female known to have played rugby was Emily Valentine, an Irish schoolgirl, who played alongside her brothers in 1884. It took another 80 years for a women's team to be formed, and the first Women's Rugby Union World Cup was held in 1991. Kim Chakanetsa speaks to two women from Uganda and Spain about the game's increasing popularity and how it's changed them. Patricia Garcia is a profession rugby player who’s competed for Spain in World Cups, Olympics and Test series, as well as appearing in 198 games over multiple 7s tournaments for her country. She now plays in the UK for Exeter Chiefs. She's also passionate about using the sport as positive force and has set up her own charity, PGR NGO, to promote social education and values through rugby. Winnie Atyang plays rugby in Uganda and uses the sport to support and inspire young women. Winnie became a single mother to twins when she was just 17 years old, and had to drop out of school. She says the rugby community is hugely encouraging: helping her go back to school and then find work to support her family. She also believes playing the sport gives her focus, confidence and ambition. Produced by Jane Thurlow (Image: (L) Winnie Atyang, credit Denise Namale. (R) Patricia Garcia, credit FER (Spanish Rugby Union))
Dec 06, 2021
Women swimming in the wild
Nora Fakim talks to two women about the health benefits of swimming in the wild. Rachel Ashe is the founder of Mental Health Swims, a peer support community organising wild swimming or dipping events in the UK. Rachel first tried cold water swimming in 2019, shortly after being diagnosed with mental health conditions, and during the pandemic she went from organising a monthly gathering at her local beach in Wales to running a social enterprise with over 80 groups across the country. Ilse Theys Woodward is an open water swimmer, a nurse, a swimming instructor and a lifeguard. She’s based in Cape Town, South Africa and she has recently taken part in the Freedom Swim, one of the world’s toughest cold water sea swim races. She’s also a member of the Phoenix Open Water Swimming (POWS), a swimming club working with underprivileged youths in Cape Town. Produced by Alice Gioia (Image: (L) Ilse Theys Woodward, credit Ilse Theys Woodward. (R) Rachel Ashe, credit Laura Minns)
Nov 29, 2021
An assistance dog changed my life
Women from Brazil and the UK tell Nora Fakim how assistance dogs are improving both their mobility and wellbeing. Maria Villela lives and works in Brazil. She has glaucoma and was blind by the time she left university. As guide dogs are rare in Brazil, ten years ago Maria decided to email every international guide dog school she could to try and get an assistance animal. She was finally partnered with her dog Spirit through Guide Dogs of the Desert, USA. She says although she lived an independent life before getting her dog, Spirit has given her peace. Alice Moore-Simmons has brittle bones, a rare condition called Ehlers Danlos syndrome and Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) which causes her blood pressure to drop very suddenly. Alice was given her first assistance dog, Bella, through the charity Dogs for Good, when she was 15 years old. More recently she’s been partnered with Winter who’s trained to look out for signs of Alice passing out, makes sure she has her medication, helps her get dressed, fetches and picks things up. Alice says Winter helps calm her anxiety and gives her confidence. Produced by Jane Thurlow (Image: (L) Maria Villela and her dog Spirit, credit Maria Villela. (R) Alice Moore-Simmons and her dog Winter, courtesy Dogs For Good)
Nov 22, 2021
Maids to the rich and famous
Rich families around the world employ butlers and maids to look after their expensive properties. These houseworkers have access to every aspect of their employers’ lives: they get to know their habits and their deepest secrets. Kim Chakanetsa talks to two former maids who worked for wealthy families in the USA and the UK. Stephanie Land is the bestselling author of Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive, a poignant memoir highlighting the plight of overworked and underpaid domestic workers in the USA. Her story has recently been turned into the successful Netflix series, Maid. When she was 19, Sara Vestin Rahmani moved from Sweden to London to work as an au pair for a rich family. She thought she would only stay for a year, but she quickly became embedded in the family’s life, and was exposed to a lifestyle she never imagined was possible. She is now the director of Bespoke Bureau and the British Butler Academy, a high-end recruitment and training agency of domestic and elite service staff. Producer: Alice Gioia (Image: (L) Stephanie Land, credit Ashley Farr. (R) Sara Vestin Rahmani, credit Bespoke Bureau)
Nov 15, 2021
Women protecting wildlife from poachers
There are many thousands of people around the world trying to protect endangered species in their natural habitat – around one in ten of them are female but that number is growing. In Africa alone 18 different countries employ female park rangers. Kim Chakanetsa is joined by two women from South Africa and Zambia to talk about what they do. Tsakane Nxumalo is a junior ranger from The Black Mambas - an unarmed all-female ranger unit in South Africa working in the Greater Kruger National Park. Their job is to protect rhino herds from local bushmeat hunters and organised rhino-poaching syndicates. Since their foundation in 2013 they’ve removed thousands of snares and poison traps, dramatically reducing poaching activity and encouraging people to see the region as a resource for wildlife and nature tourism. Lisa Siamusantu is part of Kufadza, Zambia’s first all-female anti-poaching community scout unit working with Conservation Lower Zambezi. She’d had to drop out of university and was supporting her mother in their village in near the Lower Zambezi National Park when she saw a recruitment advert for this armed ranger unit. She says the training was the hardest thing she’s ever done, but now she says whatever she does in the future it will have to be with nature and wildlife ‘I don’t want to stop doing this job.’ The teams are funded with money from government, non-government organisations and charity. They’ve both been recognised by World Female Ranger Day which is supporting women wildlife rangers around the world. Produced by Jane Thurlow IMAGE L: Tsakane Nxumalo, courtesy The Black Mambas R: Lisa Siamusantu, credit Matt Sommerville
Nov 08, 2021
Understanding the impact of climate change on women
It’s understood the climate crisis will disproportionately disrupt the lives of women around the globe. Kim Chakanetsa talks to two academics about the work they do and the impact of changing weather patterns on women. As the primary food growers and water collectors, women are hardest hit by floods and droughts. They’re also less financially equipped to flee when natural disaster strikes, and vulnerable to gender-based violence. Professor Asmeret Asefaw Berhe is a biogeochemist – a soil scientist – at the University of California, Merced. Her research is focused on understanding how disturbances in the environment affect the cycles of essential elements such as carbon and nitrogen through the soil system. While extreme weather events often result in the degradation of soil, she says effective land restoration could play an important role in sequestering CO2 and slowing climate change. Dr Katharine Vincent is a British geographer working in southern Africa. Her research has focused on vulnerability to climate change and the adaptations that can be made. She’s particularly interested in how these changes impact men and women differently, investigating institutional aspects of climate change, adaptation, food security and social protection. Produced by Jane Thurlow IMAGE L: Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, credit Teamrat A Ghezzehei R: Katharine Vincent, credit Klaus Wohlmann
Nov 01, 2021
Women leading change in NGOs
A man is twice as likely to rise to the top of an international non-governmental organization (INGO) than a woman. Kim Chakanetsa meets two exceptions to this rule. Amanda Khozi Mukwashi is the CEO of Christian Aid, an INGO that works to support sustainable development, eradicate poverty and provide disaster relief in South America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia. She’s also the author of But where are you really from? Summer Nasser is the CEO of Yemen Aid, an INGO established in late 2016 by a group of Yemeni-American women in response to the crisis in the country where, according to the UN, 80% of the population need humanitarian assistance and 1.2 million pregnant and breastfeeding women are acutely malnourished. Yemen Aid is one of the organisations providing humanitarian relief to thousands of people on the ground. Produced by Alice Gioia. IMAGES: Amanda Khozi Mukwashi, credit Christian Aid/Alex Baker Summer Nasser, courtesy of Summer Nasser
Oct 25, 2021
From start-up to success: Women rolling the dice in business
The stereotype in the entrepreneurial world is that women are too risk averse to lead companies. But is that true? Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women who turned their start-ups into successful enterprises. Linh Thai is one of Vietnam’s top female entrepreneurs. She was brought up in the USA, after her mother fled their war-torn home country with Linh and her sister, who died during the journey. Her mum’s leap of faith inspired Linh to move back to Vietnam and become an entrepreneur. She is now a co-star on the investment reality show Shark Tank Vietnam and founder of TVL Group, a workplace skills training company focused on early- and mid-career professionals. Monica Musonda is a Zambian lawyer who decided to quit her high-flying corporate career to start her own company. She’s now the CEO of Java Foods, a food processing company providing affordable nutrition to the southern African market. She is one of the few Zambian women involved in manufacturing and agro-processing and she is a member of the UN Lead Group of the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement. Produced by Alice Gioia IMAGES: (L) Linh Thai, courtesy of Linh Thai (R) Monica Musonda, courtesy of Monica Musonda
Oct 18, 2021
Sisters of skydiving
What does it feel like to fall through the sky? Two women who have broken barriers and mastered the art of skydiving from India and the United States tell Kim Chakanetsa the answer. The very first time Rachel Thomas flew in an aeroplane, she jumped out of it at 4,500 feet. Fast forward to 2002 and she became the first Indian woman to skydive and set foot on the North Pole. In her 25-year career she has completed 650 skydives in 11 countries, has been a judge at skydiving competitions and has received many awards including the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian award. Danielle Williams is an African American disabled skydiver who is an advocate for greater diversity in outdoor adventure sports. She graduated from Harvard in 2008 and spent a decade in the U.S. Army. She has completed over 600 jumps, and in 2014 co-founded Team Blackstar Skydivers. This team, originally made up of six African Americans who linked up in a "black star" formation skydive, has now grown to a diverse group of over 330 skydivers in six countries. She is also the Founder and Senior Editor of Melanin Base Camp, an outdoor blog promoting diversity. Produced by Emily Naylor and Alice Gioia. IMAGES: (L) Rachel Thomas, courtesy of Rachel Thomas (R) Danielle Williams, credit Ro Asgari
Oct 11, 2021
Taking a leap into single motherhood
There are many different routes to parenthood. For a growing number of women that route does not involve waiting for a partner to start a family. Kim Chakanetsa talks to two mothers by choice about the joys and challenges of single parenthood. Marie Stern Olsson is from Sweden, where single mothers have only recently been given the same right as couples to access state-funded fertility treatments. She had her son through insemination in 2017. She believes that having a strong support network and a single parent-friendly welfare system made her choice possible. Supriya Deverkonda is based in India, where single people are allowed to adopt children, but there is still a strong stigma around single mothers. In 2013 Supriya decided to adopt a 5-month-old baby, defying cultural stereotypes around traditional family and marriage. Eight years on, she is still having to deal with bureaucratic hurdles and scepticism, but she says she wouldn’t have it any other way. Produced by Alice Gioia IMAGE (L) Marie Stern Olsson, courtesy of Marie Stern Olsson (R) Supriya Deverkonda, credit Arti Anand
Oct 04, 2021
Message in a mural
Street artists from Switzerland and Uganda talk to Kim Chakanetsa about creating public art to enrich lives and bring about change. The Swiss artist Mona Caron is best known for her multi-story murals celebrating the rebellious resilience of weeds. She first became a muralist in her adoptive hometown of San Francisco, and creates images on a massive scale in public spaces. She blends her artivism with social movements, and enjoys working in collaboration with kindred-spirited artists and activists. Fatuma Hassan is a painter, graffiti artist and muralist who lives and works in Jinja, Uganda. She says she's never met another female street artist in the country and people are sometimes shocked that she's climbing ladders to paint her murals on buildings. She likes projects that raise community awareness and celebrate the African woman. She's part of the Afri-cans festival and has created murals in Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Kenya. Produced by Jane Thurlow IMAGE (L) Mona Caron, credit Chris Carlsson (R) Fatuma Hassan, courtesy Fatuma Hassan
Sep 27, 2021
Musical theatre stars
Dazzling lights, fancy costumes, thrilling dance routines and the nightly applause of an adoring audience - what's it like to sing on the world's biggest stages? Kim Chakanetsa talks to two musical theatre stars about life on stage - and the challenges that Covid-19 restrictions have brought. Australian actress Jemma Rix is starring as Elsa in Disney’s Frozen the Musical. With no formal training she moved to Japan to start her career singing and dancing at the Universal Studios theme park in Osaka. This is where she was first cast at everyone's favourite green witch, Elphaba in Wicked - a role she went on to play on stage to great acclaim for eight years. Filipino actress Christine Allado has returned to the stage in London's West End after a break of 15 months when theatres were closed because of Covid-19 restrictions. She’s currently starring as Tzipporah, the wife of Moses, in The Prince of Egypt. She took a year out after university to work at Hong Kong Disneyland, singing some roles in Cantonese despite not knowing the language, and she’s never looked back. Produced by Jane Thurlow IMAGE (L) Christine Allado, credit Roberto Vivancos Studio (R) Jemma Rix, courtesy Jemma Rix
Sep 20, 2021
The Conversation with Helen Clark and Michelle Bachelet
What does it take to run a country? Kim Chakanetsa is joined by two international leaders who have championed women’s health, equality and empowerment throughout their careers. They will discuss their personal journeys, the impact Covid-19 has had on the wellbeing of women around the world, and why more women should join the political arena. The guests will also be taking questions from two young female activists and leaders in women’s rights, health and climate change. Michelle Bachelet became Chile’s first female president in 2006 and served a second term in 2014. In 1973, her father was detained and tortured under General Pinochet’s dictatorial rule. Two years later she was also imprisoned with her mother and then exiled for four years. When she returned to Chile, she became a doctor and worked with victims of torture. She is currently the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Helen Clark was the first woman to be elected as prime minister of New Zealand and the first woman to serve for three consecutive terms. After her premiership, she became the first female head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and last year she co-chaired an Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response to explore the global response to Covid-19. She’s also board chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH).
Sep 18, 2021
What can we learn from nomadic life?
What's the appeal of a nomadic existence with no settled place to live? The award-winning film, Nomadland shone a light on the sense of community, support and friendship that exists among people in the United States living in their vehicles and moving from place-to-place. How much do these modern-day nomads have in common with traditional communities around the world? Kim Chakanetsa speaks to two women from Somalia and US about life on the move. Shugri Said Salh was sent to live with her grandmother at the age of six and enjoyed an idyllic childhood living as a nomad in Somalia: herding camels, raising goats, and enjoying nightly stories and songs of her ancestors. She fled her country’s brutal civil war living in refugee camps in Kenya before settling in California where she's now a nurse. She's written a book, The Last Nomad, about an almost-forgotten way of life full of beauty, innovation, and tradition as well as danger. Carol Meeks lives part of the year on the road in a converted van. After seeing the unhealthy food some fellow travellers were eating, she started a YouTube channel posting videos about how to cook tasty meals, cheaply on a small camping stove. She called it Glorious Life on Wheels and now interviews solo women living in their vehicles and travelling the US as they try to get by on meagre incomes. Produced by Jane Thurlow
Sep 13, 2021
Drag kings: The women performing as men
While drag queens sit brightly under the pop culture spotlight, fewer people know about drag kings, the mostly female or non-binary performers who create male characters on stage and poke fun at the patriarchy. Kim Chakanetsa speaks to two drag kings who have found a community through performance and are using their characters to explore their own masculinity and femininity. Mētra Saberova is an artist and drag king from Latvia, who performs as Timmy, and also manages the Latvian Drag King Collective – hosting and performing at live and online drag shows. She wants to create queer-friendly spaces in a country with limited rights and protections for LGBTQ+ people. Giovana Lago is a drag king who performs as Don Giovanni in Brazil, as part of the Kings of the Night collective. She has a real interest in the history of drag kinging, and is also a burlesque performer, something she would never have tried if she hadn’t discovered drag first. Produced by Caitlin Sneddon IMAGE DETAILS L: Giovana Lago as Don Giovanni (credit André Cardoso) R: Mētra Saberova as Timmy (credit Mētra Saberova)
Sep 06, 2021
Natural-born contortionists
Kim Chakanetsa explores the rich and long history of body-bending work and hears about the complex skills that you need to succeed. Sosina Wogayehu is a contortionist and juggler from Ethiopia. She started performing at the age of six in the streets of Addis Ababa. After a long career travelling around the world, she has moved back to Ethiopia where she’s now training new performers and planning on opening the first circus venue in the country. Leilani Franco is a British-Filipina professional contortionist. She holds three Guinness World Records: the fastest backbend walk, the fastest contortion roll and the most full-body revolutions in a chest-stand position. She made it to the semi-finals of both Britain’s Got Talent and Germany’s Got Talent, and she’s currently based in Hamburg, Germany. Producer: Alice Gioia (Image: Sosina Wogayehu (L) Credit: Ponch Hawkes; Leilani Franco (R) Credit: David Waldman/Barcroft Media)
Aug 30, 2021
A love for my language
Around the world, languages are disappearing. Kim Chakanetsa speaks to two women who are helping to keep their endangered languages alive – how has learning the words of their ancestors shaped their identities? Mshkogaabwid Kwe from Turtle Island, an indigenous name for Canada, learned her clan’s language, Anishinaabemowin, as an adult. She is now raising her children in an English-free home. She has a deep gratitude to those who walked before her and kept the words alive, knowing the persecution that they faced. Tsamaxa Toroxa spoke English and Afrikaans growing up in South Africa, and often faced prejudice from other Black South Africans who expected her to speak an indigenous language. Learning the language of her ancestors, Khoe, has shaped how she sees herself and she is now helping to keep the language alive by sharing it with others through the arts. Produced by Caitlin Sneddon IMAGE DETAILS L: Mshkogaabwid Kwe (credit Mshkogaabwid Kwe) R: Tsamaxa Toroxa (credit Tsamaxa Toroxa)
Aug 23, 2021
Beauty and the skin
Kim Chakanetsa in joined by two pioneering dermatologists to talk about the challenges and satisfaction that come with working with one of the body’s most fascinating organs. Dr Margaret Yaa Lartey is a Professor of Medicine and Dermatology at the University of Ghana, and the first woman to lead the Ghana Society of Dermatology. She had very personal reasons to become a skin specialist, and she is committed to fighting misinformation and myths around skin care and disease. Dr Rashmi Sarkar is a Senior Professor in Dermatology at Delhi University and president elect of the Indian Association of Dermatologists, Venereologists and Leprologists (IADVL). When she started out, there was stigma surrounding the profession. Now it’s a very popular choice, especially among women. Produced by Alice Gioia IMAGE DETAILS L: Dr Rashmi Sarkar (credit Rama Studio) R: Dr Margaret Yaa Lartey (credit courtesy of Margaret Yaa Lartey)
Aug 16, 2021
My baby triggered a terrifying breakdown
For many women having a newborn baby is one of the happiest times of their lives - but for a tiny proportion that new arrival begins a terrifying nightmare. Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women who experienced extreme psychosis after the birth of their child. When Catherine Cho’s first child was three months old she and her husband embarked on an extended trip to visit family and friends back home in the US. Their Korean relatives warned that they shouldn’t be travelling so far before the baby was 100 days old. Stressed and exhausted Catherine started seeing frightening things that weren’t there. That trip ended with her admission to an involuntary psychiatric ward, separated from her husband and child and not able to understand who she was or how she got there. She’s written a book about her journey back to reality called Inferno: A Memoir. Lobeh Osagie-Asiah was born in Gambia and grew up in London. After a psychotic episode when she was a student, she was diagnosed as bipolar and knew she might be at risk of a recurrence in pregnancy or birth. But it wasn't until after her fourth child was born that she experienced postpartum psychosis: she became convinced she was on a mission and that people were trying to kill her to take her baby. She says the getting through the experience has made relationships with her husband, family and friends, so much stronger. If you are feeling emotionally distressed, or worried about a friend or relative there are links to support organisations on the programme website. Produced by Jane Thurlow IMAGE DETAILS L: Lobeh Osagie-Asiah [courtesy Lobeh Osagie-Asiah] R: Catherine Cho [credit Alastair Levy]
Aug 09, 2021
Travels with my ukulele
Despite its long and rich history, the ukulele has often been snubbed or dismissed as a novelty instrument by the music world. But over the years, rock stars have embraced the guitar’s smaller cousin, from Elvis Presley to the Beatles to Taylor Swift. Kim Chakanetsa meets two women who turned their love for the ukulele into a successful musical career. When Taimane was gifted a ukulele at 5 years old, it was the start of a musical journey that would take her from busking on the streets to appearing on the world’s biggest stages. She is now considered one of the world’s leading ukulele players and is based in Honolulu, Hawaii. Zee Avi is a singer-songwriter, ukulele player and guitarist from Malaysia. Zee taught herself to play music when she was a teenager and she got her first record deal at 22, thanks to a video that she posted on the internet back in 2007. Her songs have appeared in numerous TV shows and films. Produced by Alice Gioia and mixed by Donald MacDonald. IMAGE DETAILS: (L) Taimane, credit NPR/Laura Beltrán Villamizar (R) Zee Avi, credit XENO Entertainment MUSIC DETAILS: Taimane: AIR; Water; Beethoven, System of a Down, Led & ACDC Medley, Deh vieni alla finestra (Don Giovanni, Mozart) performed by Taimane and Quinn Kelsey at the Hawaii Opera Theatre. Zee Avi: Bitter Heart; I am me once more.
Aug 02, 2021
World leaders: Michelle Bachelet and Helen Clark
What does it take to run a country? Kim Chakanetsa is joined by two international leaders who have championed women’s health, equality and empowerment throughout their careers. They will discuss their personal journeys, the impact Covid-19 has had on the wellbeing of women around the world, and why more women should join the political arena. The guests will also be taking questions from two young female activists and leaders in women’s rights, health and climate change. Michelle Bachelet became Chile’s first female president in 2006 and served a second term in 2014. In 1973, her father was detained and tortured under General Pinochet’s dictatorial rule. Two years later she was also imprisoned with her mother and then exiled for four years. When she returned to Chile, she became a doctor and worked with victims of torture. She is currently the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Helen Clark was the first woman to be elected as prime minister of New Zealand and the first woman to serve for three consecutive terms. After her premiership, Helen Clark became the first female head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and last year she co-chaired an Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response to explore the global response to Covid-19. She’s also chairing the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH). Produced by Alice Gioia IMAGE DETAILS (L) Michelle Bachelet, credit Getty Images (R) Helen Clark, credit Getty Images
Jul 26, 2021
Ghostwriters for hire
Some people live the most amazing lives but aren't always the best at putting those experiences into words. Kim Chakanetsa talks to two ghostwriters about collaborative writing - what do they enjoy about telling someone else's story? Michelle Burford is a celebrity memoir collaborator who’s written for hugely successful women like Cicely Tyson, Alicia Keys and Simone Biles. Having carved out a niche writing with famous Black women she’s also collaborated on the traumatic memoir of Michelle Knight, kidnapped and held captive by Ariel Castro in Cleveland, Ohio for ten years – and TV carpenter, Clint Harp. Ellen Banda-Aaku is an author from Zambia. She's written award winning books for children and adults and took up ghostwriting to bring in a steady income. She writes for StoryTerrace - a paid-for service which helps people write their autobiographies. This has included a woman smuggled out of Iran, another who left an abusive marriage and a man jailed in Somalia who later dedicated his life to humanitarian aid. Produced by Jane Thurlow IMAGE DETAILS (L) Michelle Burford, credit Meg Rybicki (R) Ellen Banda-Aaku, courtesy Ellen Banda-Aaku
Jul 19, 2021
Women planting trees
Two women restoring forest in Brazil and Nepal tell Kim Chakanetsa about working with local communities to plant thousands of trees and restore the natural environment. Francy Forero Sánchez is a Colombian primate researcher who volunteers with the environmental organisation Copaiba. It works with the community to restore parts of the Atlantic Forest in south eastern Brazil - one of the most endangered and biodiverse in the world. Run mainly by women the project produces native tree seedlings, plants trees and runs environmental education programmes. Rachhya Kayastha fell in love with the natural world around her as a child in Nepal and would gather school friends to plant flowers in her neighbourhood. She's now National Director in Nepal for the US charity, Eden Reforestation Projects. The organisation sets up seed collection stations, develops plant nurseries and reforestation schemes giving work to local people, mostly women. Produced by Jane Thurlow IMAGE DETAILS Francy Forero Sánchez (courtesy Francy Forero Sánchez) Rachhya Kayastha (courtesy Eden Reforestation Projects)
Jul 12, 2021
Why women walk
Women throughout the centuries have put their hiking boots on and set out into the great outdoors, but their stories are rarely told. Kim Chakanetsa is joined by two women who, through their own writing and journeys, are helping to change that. Cheryl Strayed is the author of Wild, a bestselling memoir of her 1100 mile solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail. Cheryl impulsively embarked on the hike after her mother suddenly died of cancer and her marriage crumbled, without any experience of long-distance hiking. The Oscar-nominated movie adaptation of Wild stars Reese Witherspoon. Cheryl is also the author of Tiny Beautiful Things and Brave Enough. She was the host of the New York Times podcast Dear Sugars. Dr Kerri Andrews teaches Literature at Edge Hill University and lives in Scotland. Her book, Wanderers, tells the stories of ten female pioneering walkers and writers, from Virginia Woolf to Nan Shepherd. Kerri is also a keen hiker and the co-leader of Women In The Hills, a research network looking at what hinders and what enhances women's experiences of the outdoors. Produced by Alice Gioia IMAGE DETAILS: L: Dr Kerri Andrews (credit Adam Robinson) R: Cheryl Strayed (credit Holly Andres)
Jul 05, 2021
Viral dance videos launched my career
Kim Chakanetsa talks to two choreographers whose careers took off after they posted dance routines on social media. Sienna LaLau is an Hawaiian choreographer and dancer. Her routine with K-Pop sensations BTS, for the music video 'ON', where she also dances, was watched 7 million times within 3 days of its release. Just 20 years old she's gained an international reputation, working with artists like Jennifer Lopez and Justin Bieber. Rwandan Sherrie Silver, won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Choreography in 2018 for her work on Childish Gambino’s ‘This Is America’. She’s since choreographed for some of the biggest names in music, including Rihanna, Celine Dion and Burna Boy. She brings traditional dance moves from African cultures to an international audience. Produced by Jane Thurlow IMAGE DETAILS L Sienna Lalau (courtesy The Lab Studios) R Sherrie Silver (courtesy Malaria No More UK)
Jun 28, 2021
Living through menopause
For a long time there was a wall of silence around the menopause, but more women are choosing to speak candidly about their complicated and illuminating experiences. Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women on a mission to demystify the menopause. Dr Nighat Arif is a British Pakistani family doctor specialising in women’s health. She is passionate about making the menopause a less taboo subject for all, but particularly for women for whom English is not their first language, and she often uses her social media channels to raise awareness. Barbara Hannah Grufferman is an American writer whose work focuses on healthy aging. After struggling with her symptoms during menopause she decided to become a marathon runner. Her most recent book is Love Your Age and her newsletter is Menopause Cheat Sheet. Produced by Alice Gioia IMAGE: (L) Dr Nighat Arif (credit: courtesy of Dr Nighat Arif) (R) Barbara Hannah Grufferman (credit: Howard Grufferman)
Jun 21, 2021
My life-changing autism diagnosis
As a woman with autism you're likely to receive a diagnosis much later in life than if you are a man with the condition. Why is that and what impact does a late diagnosis have? Kim Chakanetsa is joined by two autistic women who are speaking up about their experience of the condition and seeking to help others. Morénike Giwa Onaiwu is part of the Autism Women's Network in US. She says many of her early symptoms of autism were dismissed or ignored because she is Black and explains how autism can amplify stereotypes around Black women. Sara Gibbs is a British comedy writer and autistic. Labelled as a cry baby, scaredy cat and spoiled brat – she finally got a diagnosis in her thirties. She has written a book, Drama Queen, about trying to fit into a world that has often tried to reject her, and says that being on the spectrum doesn't have to be a barrier to a happy life full of love, laughter and success. Produced by Jane Thurlow IMAGE DETAILS Morénike Giwa Onaiwu Sara Gibbs [credit Juliet McKee]
Jun 14, 2021
Skating my way through life
Skateboarding is no longer an outsider sport for rebellious young men: more women are getting on the board and embracing the lifestyle that comes with it. Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women who are trying to make skating a more inclusive and welcoming community for women across the globe. Annina Brühwiler is a Swiss downhill skateboarder – which means skating down hair-raising mountain routes at high speeds, sometimes getting up to 90 km/h. She started skating at 24 and within two years was competing on the international scene. She has been travelling the world following her passion, and uses the lessons learnt on the board to coach other women. Teresa Batista is UK longboard dancing champion. She taught herself how to skate on the streets of East London before moving to Brazil, to explore how the skating culture meets salsa dancing. She choreographs dance moves on her board and runs a school for women and older adults who might feel intimidated by skate parks. Produced by Alice Gioia IMAGE: (L) Annina Brühwiler (credit: Jorge Gonzales) (R) Teresa Batista (credit: courtesy of Teresa Batista)
Jun 07, 2021
Sold into sex work
Over 79% of the world's trafficking victims are subject to sexual exploitation, and an overwhelming number of them are women and girls. Kim Chakanetsa speaks to two women who not only survived and escaped that experience, but have gone on to change laws and create support networks for fellow survivors. Shandra Woworuntu was a successful Indonesian banking analyst but lost her job when her firm ran into trouble. She applied for a job in a Chicago Hotel for six months to tide her family over - but when she arrived she was handed over to a trafficking ring. After months of forced sex work, she was able to escape her kidnappers by jumping out of a bathroom window. She went on to successfully prosecute her traffickers in court, and is now a campaigner against trafficking. She is the founder of Mentari USA, a non-profit organisation which helps survivor reintegrate with society. Hungarian Timea Nagy grew up as the daughter of a strict policewoman, but became trapped in a trafficking circle after applying to become a baby-sitter in Toronto. Hours after her arrival, she was forced into sex work. Timea escaped home to Hungary after three months, but later returned to Canada to indict her traffickers. She has gone on to train police in Canada helping trafficking victims, as well as educating the financial sector on its role in preventing modern slavery. She is the founder of Timea's Cause, a for-profit organisation which employs survivors. Produced by Rosie Stopher IMAGE (L) Shandra Woworuntu, credit Calvin Voon (R) Timea Nagy
May 31, 2021
Sweet honey and queen bees
Vital for the planet's health, bees are a key part of pollinating the world's fruits, flowers and crops. And beekeeping seems to be growing in popularity, even the Queen B, Beyoncé, has bee hives in her garden. Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women about what ignited their passion for bees and honey. South African, Mokgadi Mabela was only interested in her father's bees because she thought they could make her money. She sold the honey to colleagues in her office in Pretoria. When demand became too great for her father and his network he suggested she start some hives of her own. She set up a family company Native Nosi, producing honey and other bee by-products for South Africa and beyond. Dr Agnes Tyburn grew up in Martinique where her grandfather kept a couple of bee hives. When she was doing her PhD in Organic Chemistry at Cambridge University in the UK she decided it would be nice to try beekeeping herself, despite not having a garden. She’s now set up Bee Sitter – offering online support, practical advice, mentoring and bee keeping courses. Produced by Jane Thurlow IMAGE DETAILS (L) Mokgadi Mabela (R) Agnes Tyburn
May 24, 2021
Women of the Arab Spring
A decade after the uprisings that changed the political landscape of many countries in North Africa and the Middle East, Kim Chakanetsa looks at what impact the Arab uprisings had on the lives of women in Egypt and Syria. Mona Eltahawy is an Egyptian-American author and commentator. She was at the frontline of clashes between protesters and the military in 2011. Mona is now based in the USA, where she keeps writing about feminism in the Arab world. Her latest book is The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls and her newsletter is called Feminist Giant. Zaina Erhaim is an award-winning Syrian journalist and filmmaker. Her series of short films, Syria’s Rebellious Women, documented the lives of ordinary women turned activists in the aftermath of the uprisings. Her most recent project, Liberated T, is an advocacy campaign aimed at changing the gender stereotypes around women in the region. Produced by Alice Gioia IMAGE DETAILS L: Zaina Erhaim (courtesy of Zaina Erhaim) R: Mona Eltahawy (credit: Robert E. Rutledge)
May 17, 2021
Women fighting wildfires
Large scale wildfires have increasingly made headlines in recent years. Fires have devastated areas of California, Australia, Siberia and the Pantanal that used to be relatively unaffected. We speak to two women helping stop the spread of wildland fires, protecting precious ecosystems, national parks and people's homes. Being a professional fire fighter is out of the question for Olga Serova who lives in Russia, where women are not allowed to join the profession. However, Olga volunteers with teams that battle wildfires in the national parks outside Moscow and St Petersburg. She tells us why she does it and how people react. Justine Gude is a Texas Canyon Hotshot in the Los Angeles National Forest. She's one of a team of elite small crews of wildfire fighters – there are about 100 crews in America – who have been trained to deal with fires in remote regions where little logistical support is available. She was one of a team of volunteer experts who flew to Australia to help out firefighting efforts in Melbourne in 2020. Produced by Jane Thurlow IMAGE DETAILS L: Olga Serova [credit Maria Vasilieva] R: Justine Gude [credit Santos Gonzalez]
May 10, 2021
Nurses on the frontline: A year on
In April 2020, Kim Chakanetsa spoke to two young nurses who were putting their lives on the line by treating the sickest covid-19 patients in intensive care units. At that point, only a couple of months into a global pandemic, they were exhausted but optimistic about things getting better. Kim catches up with them and asks how they are coping a year on after another wave of infections and an incresing death toll. Hannah Grey is a 24-year-old nurse based in London. She worked as a busy Intensive Care Unit for both waves of virus infections, but has since moved on to a children’s critical unit. She has launched her own podcast, What Makes a Nurse?, sharing the stories of the many skilled nurses she met during the pandemic, as they came to help on the ICU. Bianca Dintino is a 27-year-old critical care nurse based at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. She was one of the first nurses to volunteer to care for coronavirus patients last year, and credits her colleagues with keeping her going. Bianca got married during the pandemic, and has been trying to find the joy in a difficult year. Produced by Rosie Stopher IMAGE DETAILS: L: Bianca Dintino (credit Anne Marie) R: Hannah Gray (credit Simi Sebastian)
May 03, 2021
Funerals and grief in a pandemic
The extraordinary measures put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic and the Ebola crisis placed restrictions on much of people’s lives, including the rituals and ceremony around death. Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women whose work has supported grieving families during a time of crisis. Lianna Champ is a British funeral director and author of How to Grieve Like a Champ. She’s based in Lancashire, one of the areas worst hit by Covid-19. She always knew she was going to be a funeral director and she started helping out at the local funeral home at 16. She talks about how Covid-19 has transformed funerals, mourning and grief, and why the rituals of death are crucial to our ability to grieve healthily. Neima Candy is a Liberian public health nurse who coordinated the Red Cross response to the Ebola crisis. She was in charge of organising burial teams made up of volunteers and helped write guidelines for ‘safe and dignified’ funerals that would bring closure to the families and at the same time avoid further spread of the disease. IMAGE DETAILS Left: Neima Candy [courtesy Neima Candy] Right: Lianna Champ [credit Phil Garlington]
Apr 26, 2021
How to live alone
Eating ice cream in the early hours, naked dancing and not having to tidy up behind anyone else are just some of the benefits of living alone described by Kim Chakanetsa’s guests on The Conversation this week. Solo living is a rising global phenomenon, tied to increasing economic empowerment of women. It's a trend seen in all countries, including in more traditional, conservative cultures. But it's rarely written about and often overlooked in government strategy. So why are more women choosing to live on their own and what do they enjoy about it? Hannah Carmichael started the Living Well Alone Project in the UK with her mother Helen. They had both started living on their own, for different reasons, but had found the first months difficult. Looking for advice they found there wasn't much. Hannah says Covid has shone a spotlight on the lives of people who live alone, and there's still much myth-busting needed. Sreemoyee Piu Kundu based her book Status Single on interviews with 3,500 women who spoke about their experience of single life in India. She has set up an online community where solo women of all ages come together to talk about living alone, single parenthood, financial and social struggles and offer support to each other. Produced by Jane Thurlow IMAGE DETAILS Left: Hannah Carmichael [credit Carl Fletcher] Right: Sreemoyee Piu Kundu [courtesy Sreemoyee Piu Kundu]
Apr 19, 2021
Women who love insects
Insects have been around for more than 350 million years, longer than dinosaurs and flowering plants. We are vastly outnumbered by them – there are approximately 1.4 billion insects for every person on earth. And although we tend to treat them with disdain, they are absolutely essential to our survival. Kim Chakanetsa talks all things buzzing, crawling and flying with two insect enthusiasts who have made a career out of their love for bugs. Dr Jessica L Ware is a Canadian-American entomologist specialising in dragonflies and damselflies. She’s the first African-American associate curator in invertebrate zoology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the vice-president of the Entomological Society of America. A single mother and an adventurer, she has travelled the world following dragonflies and she is passionate about diversifying the scientific community. Dr Carolina Barillas-Mury was born in Guatemala and spent her life studying mosquitoes to understand how they transmit malaria. She heads the Mosquito Immunity and Vector Competence Section at the National Institutes of Health - one of the world's foremost medical research centres - and she believes the way to fight malaria is to work with, and not against, mosquitoes. Produced by Alice Gioia IMAGE DETAILS Left: Carolina Barillas-Mury (courtesy of Carolina Barillas-Mury) Right: Jessica L Ware (credit Sallqa-Tuwa Stephanita Bondocgawa Maflamills)
Apr 12, 2021
Women in law
In many countries around the world more women than men take law degrees but they're still much less likely to make partner or become a judge. Kim Chakenetsa talks to two lawyers from Egypt and the UK about the discrimination they face and the need for a more diverse legal profession. Omnia Gadalla is a professor of law and sharia at Al-Azhar University. She founded an initiative called Her Honour Setting the Bar which aims to encourage and support female law graduates and to challenge discrimination which prevents Egyptian women from becoming judges. Alexandra Wilson is a barrister in the UK. She's complained about times she's mistaken for a defendant because she's Black and is highlighting the racism she faces in her workplace. She argues that the law profession needs to include more women and people from different ethnic and class backgrounds. Produced by Jane Thurlow IMAGE DETAILS Left: Omnia Gadalla (courtesy Omnia Gadalla) Right: Alexandra Wilson (credit Laurie Lewis)
Apr 05, 2021
How to focus
Have you ever been so absorbed in an activity that you lost track of time? Experiencing moments of intense focus is something most of us can relate to; but did you know you can train for it? Kim Chakanetsa discusses tips and best practice with two women whose careers demand their absolute concentration. Lorraine Huber is a Freeride World Champion and a mental strength coach. Freeriding is a discipline that involves skiing off-piste and performing acrobatic jumps on natural terrains. For Lorraine, being able to shut-out the world around her and perform at her best is a matter of life or death. Kalena Bovell is the assistant conductor of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and the only African-American/Hispanic orchestra conductor in the United States. When she is on the podium, she needs to be able to focus for hours, while working with a big group of musicians in front of a public. To excel in her job, she had to learn to master the art of intense focus. Produced by Alice Gioia. MUSIC DETAILS: Extract from Kalena Bovell’s international debut with Chineke! Orchestra. The performance was recorded at Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall in London, UK. IMAGE DETAILS L: Lorraine Huber R: Kalena Bovell [credit Cabrillo Festival]
Mar 29, 2021
Women running restaurants
Two award winning chefs talk to Kim Chakanetsa about how they've adapted to restrictions because of the Covid-19 pandemic. They discuss the pressures it's put on their business and the continuing importance of food and their restaurant staff in their lives. Ana Roš won two Michelin stars after transforming her family restaurant Hisa Franko into a globally renowned dining destination in Slovenia. As a young woman she was a member of the Yugoslavia alpine ski youth team and learned to cook when she and her husband took on his family's restaurant. Ana first worked as a waitress before finding her signature style in the kitchen after the chef left. Amninder Sandhu is known for setting up the first gas-free restaurant kitchen in India, making a name for herself with unconventional, slow-cooked dishes rooted in traditional techniques. The former head chef at Arth restaurant in Mumbai, she was planning to open a new restaurant when the pandemic hit and instead has set up a home delivery service. Produced by Jane Thurlow IMAGE DETAILS L: Ana Roš (credit Pablo Cuadra/Getty Images) R: Amninder Sandhu (courtesy Amninder Sandhu)
Mar 22, 2021
Afrofuturism: Black women changing the sci-fi scene
Is science fiction too white? Kim Chakanetsa meets two women who are diversifying the genre. They talk about finding inspiration, dealing with rejection, and what Afrofuturism means to them. N.K. Jemisin is an African-American psychologist and science fiction writer. Her Broken Earth trilogy won the Hugo Award for Best Novel three years in a row. She’s the first and only author to have achieved that recognition. In her latest book, The City We Became, she addresses the legacy of racism in science fiction. Chinelo Onwualu is a Nigerian writer and the non-fiction editor of Anathema Magazine. She grew up wanting to write science fiction, but struggled to get her voice heard in a largely white and male-dominated world. She talks about the main narratives and themes emerging within African Speculative Fiction. Produced by Alice Gioia IMAGE DETAILS: L: N.K. Jemisin (Credit: Laura Hanifin) R: Chinelo Onwualu (courtesy of Chinelo Onwualu)
Mar 15, 2021
Women making art from clay
Pottery is one of the oldest and most widespread decorative arts and has enjoyed rising popularity in recent years. At the same time, ceramics are increasingly significant as contemporary art. Kim Chakanetsa talks to two ceramicists about sprigging, drying, firing and smashing; commercial collaborations; and getting their pieces in museums. Hitomi Hosono is a Japanese ceramicist whose delicate work sits in the British Museum and V&A. She's also collaborated with the world-famous Wedgewood pottery manufacturer to make jasperware vases. Her ceramics, with a chalk-like finish and gold embellishments, are rooted in both Japanese and European traditions. Inspired by the intricacy of plants, leaves and flowers her pots seem to sway in the breeze and grow. Israeli ceramicist Zemer Peled took up pottery as part of therapy after a break-up in her 20s and now exhibits at galleries and museums around the world. Her work examines the beauty and brutality of the natural world. She makes large and small-scale sculptures and installations from thousands of porcelain shards – and has a growing collection of hammers! Produced by Jane Thurlow IMAGE DETAILS Left: Hitomi Hosono (courtesy Adrian Sassoon) Right: Zemer Peled (credit Zemer Peled Studio)
Mar 08, 2021
Women digging for answers from the ancient past
Can our modern-day gender biases influence our understanding of the past? Kim Chakanetsa meets two archaeologists to talk about the risks of projecting our own assumptions onto the ancient world. Dr Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson is a senior researcher in the department of Archaeology and Ancient History at Uppsala University in Sweden. She’s also one of the lead investigators on the Viking Phenomenon research project and she’s been studying a grave found in Sweden in the 19th century, which contained the remains of a high-ranking Viking warrior. For more than 100 years this person was assumed to be male. But when Charlotte and her team carried out a DNA test on the bones, they found out they belong to an individual who was biologically female. Her discovery shook the academic world. Dr Sarah Murray is assistant professor at the University of Toronto and she specializes in the material culture and institutions of early Greece. She thinks we should re-consider the way we look at women’s participation in the social and economic structure of Ancient Greece. She recently published a paper dispelling the myth of the so-called Dipylon Master, a pottery artist who has been credited with creating very distinct funerary vases between 760 and 735 BC. Based on her studies, Sarah believes it’s more likely that a group of women were behind these artefacts. Produced by Alice Gioia. IMAGE DETAILS Left: Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson (credit Linda Koffman) Right: Sarah Murray (credit Kat Alexakis)
Mar 01, 2021
The women who protect nature
Kim Chakanetsa meets two environmental champions fighting to save South America's most precious ecosystems. Kris Tompkins is the president and co-founder of Tompkins Conservation. Kris and her late husband, Doug Tompkins, have been instrumental in the creation of 13 national parks in Chile and Argentina, conserving over 14 million acres of land. Dr Dolors Armenteras is one of the world’s leading scientists on forest fires. Originally from Spain, she now works with the National University of Colombia. She spent the last 20 years fighting to save the country’s Amazon forest, and against misogyny in science. Produced by Alice Gioia. IMAGE DETAILS Left: Dolors Armenteras (credit Tania M. Gonzalez) Right: Kris Tompkins (credit James Q. Martin)
Feb 22, 2021
Women writing true crime
Women are big fans of true crime stories… from books, to films, podcasts and TV programmes. Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women who've made their name reporting on true crime. Connie Walker is a Canadian journalist whose award-winning true crime podcast series, Missing and Murdered, examines violence and discrimination against women and girls from Indigenous communities. She is Cree and uses the mystery, and twists and turns of true crime to help educate people about Indigenous history. While Tanya Farber was covering the trial of a man who murdered his family she realised that this kind of crime got a lot of attention, as did trials involving women killers. She wrote Blood on Her Hands: South Africa’s Most Notorious Female Killers. They talk about what sparks this fascination when by far the majority of victims and perpetrators of crime are men. Produced by Jane Thurlow IMAGE DETAILS Left: Tanya Farber (courtesy Tanya Farber) Right: Connie Walker (courtesy Connie Walker)
Feb 15, 2021
Intimacy on screen
Whether it’s a stroke of a cheek or a sex scene, filming intimate content for movies and TV is a delicate business. When badly handled, it can even cause the actors harm. Kim Chakanetsa talks to an Indian movie director and to a pioneering intimacy coordinator about ensuring actors feel safe on set while filming simulated sex scenes. Also: has the #MeToo movement fuelled a demand for better boundaries, and how is the industry responding? Ita O'Brien is a British movement director and intimacy coordinator for film, TV and theatre. She worked on the set of I May Destroy You, Normal People, Gentleman Jack and Sex Education. She has developed the 'Intimacy on Set' guidelines for those working with intimacy, scenes with sexual content and nudity. Alankrita Shrivastava is an Indian screenwriter and director. Her 2017 movie, Lipstick Under My Burkha, was initially banned in India for containing 'contagious sexual scenes'. She explains the challenges of shooting sex scenes in Bollywood, where nudity isn't allowed, and how to put women's desire at the centre of the narrative. Produced by Sarah Kendal and Alice Gioia for the BBC World Service. IMAGE DETAILS Left: Alankrita Shrivastava (credit Komal Gandhi) Right: Ita O'Brien (credit Nic Dawkes)
Feb 08, 2021
Selling Sunset: How I find homes for the rich and famous
The business of selling multi-million dollar homes: Kim Chakanetsa speaks to two women working in Dubai and LA's competitive real estate markets about what it takes to make it. Amanza Smith is a real estate agent and interior designer. She's part of the team featured in the reality TV show Selling Sunset - a real estate agency for eye-popping high-end residential properties in Los Angeles. She says that while growing up poor 'sucks at the time', it's helped make her determined not to fail and has given her an ability to work really hard at everything she does. Lebanese born Zeina Khoury lives in Dubai and is the CEO of High Mark Real Estate Brokers, a specialist luxury property sales and management company in the United Arab Emirates. The agency buys and sells exclusive properties, including opulent apartments in the Versace Palazzo Dubai, for clients based around the world. Producer: Jane Thurlow (Photo: (L) Zeina Khoury (courtesy Zeina Khoury. (R): Amanza Smith. Credit Michael Bezjian/Getty Images)
Feb 01, 2021
Choosing to be childfree
When a woman chooses not to have children, why is it still seen as a radical decision? Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women about their stories and the stigma associated with their choice to be childfree. Doreen Akiyo Yomoah is a writer and blogs at Childfree African. Born in Accra, Ghana, she has lived in the US, Japan and Senegal and she is currently based in Geneva, Switzerland. She chose not to have kids in her early 20s and she thinks being childfree is part of a wider discussion about reproductive rights and feminism. Nina Steele is the founder and editor of She is originally from the Ivory Coast and she is now based in the UK. When she discovered she couldn't have children, she decided to stay childfree. She says her website has become a resource for African childless and childfree women and men alike. Produced by Alice Gioia. IMAGE L: Doreen Akiyo Yomoah (Credit: Lamine Bouan) R: Nina Steele (Courtesy of Nina Steele)
Jan 25, 2021
Record-breaking runners
Two of the most decorated female sprinters on the planet, from the US and Jamaica, talk to Kim Chakanetsa about smashing records, the impact of pregnancy, and calling out sex discrimination in their sport. Allyson Felix is an American sprinter who one year after giving birth to a premature baby, beat Usain Bolt’s record for winning the most world championship gold medals. After Allyson exposed her sponsor Nike for asking her to take a 70% pay cut on a new deal post-pregnancy, the brand changed its policy on pregnant athletes. Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has won more 100m world titles than any other athlete in history, male or female. After taking a break from athletics to have a child, she became the world's fastest woman for the fourth time in 2019, bagging two gold medals at Doha. Both athletes are aiming to add to their medal tally at the postponed Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Produced by Jane Thurlow IMAGE DETAILS Left: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (credit Will Twort) Right: Allyson Felix (credit Wes Felix)
Jan 18, 2021
The secrets of sewers
Flushing the toilet: an act that most of us carelessly perform several times a day, but that for 4.2 billion people in the world is still a luxury. Kim Chakanetsa talks to two pioneering engineers about the crucial role wastewater management plays in society, including how sewers can help in the fight against Covid-19. Dina Gillespie is an area operations manager with Thames Water, the UK’s largest water and wastewater company. She is passionate about turning sludge into energy and about the history of London’s impressive sewerage system, which was built in the 19th century to cope with cholera outbreaks. She also discusses the risks fatbergs pose to our lives, and why we should all be more careful about what we flush down the toilet. Birguy Lamizana-Diallo is the UN Environment Programme Officer in charge of wastewater management in West Africa. She studied the impact septic tanks and open-air latrines have on the environment and on the life of the community in her home country, Burkina Faso. After more than 20 years working in the private and public sector, she now coordinates training programmes to raise awareness of the environmental costs and the health and safety aspect of managing wastewater. Produced by Alice Gioia IMAGE L: Birguy Lamizana-Diallo R: Dina Gillespie
Jan 11, 2021
How to be happy
With so much happening that’s out of our control, what can we do to be happier, calmer and more content? Kim Chakanetsa gets tips and advice from South Korea and Denmark. In her book The Power of Nunchi, Euny Hong writes about what she calls a South Korean ‘super power’. She says we could all live happier lives by developing this knowledge of how to 'read' a room or someone else's feelings and that we'd all get along better if we learned to listen more. Denmark is considered to be one of the happiest countries in the world. The author of Happy as a Dane, Malene Rydahl believes there are aspects of their culture that we can all use to improve our chances of happiness. She has advice and tips on how we can all learn to be a little more Danish in our outlook and be happier as a result. Produced by Jane Thurlow IMAGE L: Euny Hong (courtesy Euny Hong) R: Malene Rydahl (credit
Jan 04, 2021
Cheerleading: So much more than shaking pompoms
Pom Poms, short skirts, and chanting: this is what we think is cheerleading. Despite the physical demands of competitive cheerleading it isn’t officially recognised by some sports bodies. Kim Chakanetsa brings together two women who are challenging perceptions. Gabi Butler is an American cheerleader who was the star of the Netflix documentary series, Cheer. Her athleticism, flexibility and considerable social media presence has made her a 'cheerlebrity'. Yet posting online since she was a teen has meant being a target for inappropriate comments. She has won the cheerleading world championships twice and says "if someone says, 'Winning isn't everything' they're lying." Lilian Obieze is the founder of Lagos Nigeria Cheer and is on a mission to popularise cheerleading all over the African continent. In Nigeria she has had to change perceptions that cheerleading "is just about twerking." She started cheerleading programmes in schools 10 years ago, and since then has grown the programme from an entertainment sport to a competitive one. Her dream is for her athletes to compete internationally. Produced by Jane Thurlow and Sarah Kendall IMAGE DETAILS Left: Lilian Obieze (credit Mtphotoz) Right: Gabi Butler (courtesy Gabi Butler)
Dec 28, 2020
The joy of reindeer
What does a reindeer smell like? And how do they manage to survive in one of the harshest climates in the world, with temperatures that can drop to minus 30 degrees Celsius? Kim Chakanetsa talks all things reindeer with two women who follow these extraordinary animals for a living. Anne Louise Næss Gaup is a reindeer herder from the indigenous Sámi community in Norway. She was brought up in a family of traditional herders and she spends most of her life on the road, looking after her migrating herd. She talks about her hard but rewarding work; why these animals are so important for her culture; and why it’s very inappropriate to ask her how many reindeer she owns. Dr. Jackie Hrabok-Leppäjärvi has a joint Professorship at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Northwest Campus and at the Sámi Education Institute in Kaamanen, Finland. She teaches reindeer husbandry and applied arts. She started studying reindeer and caribous when she was 18 and she never looked back. She now develops science-based and sustainable reindeer husbandry programmes, helping indigenous communities to protect the animals they base their livelihood on. Producer: Alice Gioia Reindeer audio: Courtesy of Bengt Roger Kaaven, NRK SAPMI Image: L: Dr. Jackie Hrabok-Leppäjärvi R: Anne Louise Næss Gaup
Dec 21, 2020
Love at first knit
Knitting is sometimes dismissed as a gentle domestic activity, but this craft has a rich history of activism. It also helps keep your mind sharp and make you feel more relaxed. Kim Chakanetsa meets two knitting enthusiasts to unravel the social and cultural history of the craft. Loretta Napoleoni is an Italo-American economist who usually writes about the financing of terrorism. She is also an avid knitter and in her latest book, The Power of Knitting, she looks at how knitting became a tool for women to fight discrimination and promote social change - from the spinning bees of the American Revolution to the knitting spies of WWI and WWII. Hélène Magnússon is a knit designer based in Iceland. She grew up in France where she was a lawyer. In the 1990s she quit her high-flying career to move to Iceland, using knitting to explore the culture and history of Iceland and to make friends, until it eventually became her main profession. For her, the benefits of knitting go far beyond a finished scarf: when she was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, she realised that, throughout her life, she had been using the craft to cope with social situations she found stressful. You can find more about her work at Producer: Alice Gioia Image: L: Loretta Napoleoni - credit Roberto Vettorato R: Hélène Magnússon – courtesy of Hélène Magnússon
Dec 14, 2020
Yoga women
Why are so many women drawn to yoga? And, as it's become commodified in the West, has it lost its soul? Kim Chakanetsa discusses the billion-dollar yoga business with two women who used the power of yoga to transform their own lives. Deepika Mehta turned to yoga after a climbing accident left her struggling to walk. She found hope in yoga teachings, and eventually used the practice to help overcome her injuries. Today she is one of the most successful and sought after Ashtanga yoga teachers in India. Based in Mumbai, Deepika has travelled all over the world to teach and further her own yoga studies. Rima Rabbath grew up in Lebanon during the civil war, learning to live in the moment to escape the shelling. Eventually she would find a home in the practices and teachings of yoga. She had embarked on a successful corporate career when she attended her first yoga class in New York City. She has since become one of the leading teachers of Jivamukti yoga in Manhattan. Produced by Jo Impey for the BBC World Service. This episode was first broadcast on April 22nd, 2019. Image: (L) Deepika Mehta Credit: Radesh Image: (R) Rima Rabbath Credit: Peter Stanglmayr
Dec 07, 2020
The Conversation: BBC 100 Women
Celebrating the BBC 100 Women list 2020, Kim Chakanetsa and a panel of inspirational and influential women discuss whether some changes made because of Covid-19 restrictions could be seen as positive. They answer questions about bringing communities together, supporting lonely people and increasing flexibility for more inclusive employment. Shani Dhanda is an award-winning disability specialist and social entrepreneur from the UK. She founded the Asian Woman Festival and Asian Disability Network. The pandemic has proved that flexible and home working is viable, and she wants to make sure our new online solutions are here to stay so that the world remains accessible to us all. Karen Dolva has been seeking technological solutions to involuntary loneliness since 2015. A co-founder of No Isolation based in Norway, she’s helped develop a telepresence robot for children with long-term illness, and KOMP, a one-button screen for seniors. With reports from around the world of people feeling increasingly isolated because of Covid restrictions – should tech like this be used more widely? Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, became Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone in 2018 with an inclusive vision of the city's renewal and a three-year plan to "Transform Freetown" and tackle environmental degradation and facilitate the creation of jobs in the tourism sector. #FreetownTheTreeTown was launched this January and already over 450,000 seedlings have been planted to address flooding, soil erosion and water shortages faced by the city. She says we can turn frustration and dissatisfaction into positive change. What can we learn from such an approach post-Covid? Aditi Mittal is India’s best known female stand-up comedian, who is finding new ways to perform safely and online. She also hosts the Women in Labour podcast, and hopes that the increased time at home for many male workers in India has shone a light on the amount of time required to run a household, something that has always been a big barrier to the female workforce. Produced by Jane Thurlow and Caitlin Sneddon Image from left: Aditi Mittal (credit Nanak Bhatia), Shani Dhanda (courtesy Shani Dhanda), Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr (credit TJ Bade) Karen Dolva (credit No Isolation)
Nov 28, 2020
Young and widowed
Who do you picture when you hear the word ‘widow’? The stereotype is probably an elderly woman. But what if your spouse dies unexpectedly young? Two women share their experiences of grief, stigma, and finding the strength to live their lives to the full. Roseline Orwa is a Kenyan campaigner lobbying for cultural change around widows and the stigma towards them in Kenya and other African countries. She was widowed aged 32, when her husband was killed in post-election violence. Like many women, she had to face 'sexual cleansing' in order to be able to return to day-to-day life. She started the Rona Foundation, supporting and championing the rights of widows across the country. Anjali Pinto is an American photographer and writer who lost her husband suddenly on New Year's Eve 2016. She was only 26 and they had been married just over a year. Using social media to chronicle her life without her husband and break down taboos around grief, she unintentionally created a community of young widows on Instagram. Presenter: Kim Chakanetsa Producers: Rosie Stopher, Alice Gioia Credit: L: Roseline Orwa – credit Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity R: Anjali Pinto – credit Julie Dietz
Nov 23, 2020
Why are you calling me ‘inspirational’?
How do disabled women deal with well-intentioned but patronising interactions? Kim Chakanetsa looks at the way disabled women are portrayed on mainstream and social media, and how they are often described as being 'inspirational' solely, or in part, because of their disability. Leanora Volpe is a London-based athlete and a member of Great Britain's Paraclimbing Team. Five years ago she was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome or EDS. She explains how she learned to navigate the world as a disabled woman, and how it’s opened the door to competitive climbing. As a top athlete, she knows people look up to her as a role model, but she is uncomfortable with being called 'an inspiration' just because of her disability. Amy Zayed is a music journalist and broadcaster based in Cologne. She was born blind in a family of Egyptian migrants who had just relocated to the German countryside, so she grew up knowing she was perceived as ‘different’. She talks about building a career with - and not 'despite' - her disability, and why people’s discomfort with difference can be harmful. Producer: Alice Gioia Image: L: Leanora Volpe – credit Michelle Tofi R: Amy Zayed – credit Sonja Niemeier Audio: Stella Young – credit TEDxSydney 2014, Sydney Opera House, Australia Paraclimbing World Championships 2019 – credit International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC)
Nov 16, 2020
Women laughing at life
Two comedians using the highs and lows of their personal lives as material for stand-up tell Kim Chakanetsa about what motivated them to get up on stage to be laughed at and how their families react. New Zealand comedian Angella Dravid, is known for her awkward manner and uses everything from her brief teen marriage to a man in his 40s to her time in a UK prison as fuel for her show. Socially anxious herself, she embraces being uncomfortable in routines. Born in Russia and now based in London, Olga Koch was nominated for Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards in 2018 for her debut hour, Fight. It’s a show about her father and Russia’s roller-coaster years from the collapse of Communism to the rise of Vladimir Putin. Image L: Angella Dravid - credit Matt Klitscher R: Olga Koch - credit James Deacon
Nov 09, 2020
Planet friendly fashion founders
Can fashion change the world? The clothing industry is one of the most polluting on earth, and is known for some of the worst working conditions for women and girls. Is there another way? Kim Chakanetsa speaks to two women from the UK and Australia who've done things differently. Safia Minney MBE is the British founder of the pioneering sustainable and ethical fashion brand People Tree and the website Real Sustainability. After almost 30 years in the industry, she now lobbies for regulation in fashion and a change in how we approach clothes. Hanna Guy is the Australian co-founder of Cambodian brand Dorsu, which creates sustainable and ethically made basics from deadstock fabrics. Working from Kampot alongside her business partner Kunthear Mov, she's developed safe and supportive employment for local women. Image L: Safia Minney (credit Odi Caspi) R: Hanna Guy (credit Hanna Guy)
Nov 02, 2020
Redesigning the world with Covid-19
What’s the best way to design ‘pandemic-resilient’ cities? Covid-19 has changed the way we move in public spaces, and social distancing has become the rule to live by. Kim Chakanetsa and her guests imagine what the world will look like in the future. Toshiko Mori is a New York-based Japanese architect, founder of Toshiko Mori Architect and Professor at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. She is the first woman to be tenured there. Growing up in Japan, she witnessed the country’s recovery after World War Two. She firmly believes that architecture can transform communities, and that crises are an opportunity to build better places. Maliam Mdoko is the first female President of the Malawi Institute of Architects and she works with Press Trust, a charity building schools, hospitals and housing facilities. Maliam is already working on redesigning the way people move inside buildings, and she thinks women need to be the driving force behind this huge cultural and societal change. IMAGE DETAILS L: Maliam Mdoko (Courtesy of Maliam Mdoko) R: Toshiko Mori (Credit: Ralph Gibson) Producer: Alice Gioia
Oct 26, 2020
#MeToo: The lawyers
Two lawyers who represent alleged victims of sexual assault and harassment join Kim Chakanetsa to discuss how #MeToo and other public movements have impacted their work. Debra Katz is an American civil rights and employment lawyer, best known for representing alleged victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment, and the whistleblowers who bring these stories to light. Her clients have included Christine Blasey-Ford, Vanessa Tyson and Chloe Caras. Karuna Nundy is an Indian Supreme Court lawyer who focusses on constitutional law, media law and legal policy. Her work includes helping draft an anti-rape bill in India, after the 2012 Delhi bus gang rape created outrage around the treatment of women. IMAGE DETAILS L: Karuna Nundy (credit - Ankita Chandra) R: Debra Katz
Oct 19, 2020
Bonus podcast: Goodbye To All This
Today we have something a bit different for you. It’s a new podcast from the BBC World Service called Goodbye to All This. It’s a powerful memoir by Australian writer Sophie Townsend, who lost her husband Russell to cancer. It’s the intimate journey of learning to navigate grief while bringing up two daughters. It reflects on life, love, loss and coming back out the other side. This is the first episode of the show. You can find it wherever you get your podcasts. We will be back with The Conversation on Monday. Artwork design: D8.
Oct 17, 2020
Singing my way to stardom
Pop singers from Afghanistan and Northern Ireland tell Kim Chakanetsa what it's like to perform in, coach and judge major singing competitions. Aryana Sayeed is the biggest female pop star in Afghanistan. She’s been a judge on one of the country’s biggest TV shows, Afghan Star and a coach on The Voice of Afghanistan. The multi-award winning performer was born in Kabul and raised in Switzerland, later moving to the UK. Aryana is also a women's rights activist, and wants to deliver a message of peace, love, and empowerment through her music. Janet Devlin was a quarter-finalist in the UK singing competition The X Factor. At just 16 years old and from a small town in Northern Ireland, she didn’t love the attention that came with it and struggled against her inner critic on stage. She talks about the importance of being open about her mental health issues and addictions, and how the support of a female fanbase has brought greater confidence. IMAGE DETAILS L: Janet Devlin (credit - Emma-Jane Lewis) R: Aryana Sayeed (credit - Neelio Paris)
Oct 14, 2020
Speaking up about racial injustice
Two women talk to Kim Chakanetsa about their anti-racism campaigns in Lebanon and Netherlands and the emotional toll of speaking out. Jessica de Abreu is an activist and co-founder of The Black Archives in Amsterdam. As part of the Kick Out Zwarte Piet group she protests against the annual tradition in the Netherlands where children and adults alike dress up with black face to celebrate Santa’s helper ‘Black Pete’. In the past protesters have been attacked and ignored by a country that has long seen this as harmless fun. Massive turnouts at recent BLM inspired protests could suggest a turning of the tide. Ubah Ali is from Somaliland and currently studying at the American University of Beirut. She talks about Lebanon's ‘kafala’ system, which excludes the predominantly Black migrant workforce from labour laws. She says she’s regularly mistaken for a domestic worker and fights to challenge preconceptions about Black women. IMAGE DETAILS L: Ubah Ali (credit - Ubah Ali) R: Jessica de Abreu (credit - Marcel Wogram)
Oct 05, 2020
Feminism, sex and relationships
How does feminism influence our love lives? Is it possible to hold true to feminist principles of equality when dating apps reduce us to swipe-able products on a page? Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women who write about sex and dating. Priya Malik is a columnist and spoken word poet, who writes about feminism, love, sex and dating. She moved to Australia with her husband but returned home to Mumbai after her divorce and is now in a relationship which has equality at its heart. Annie Lord is a journalist who writes about sex and relationships for British Vogue. A committed feminist she admits it can be hard to hold on to those principles of equality in the world of dating. Image L: Priya Malik (credit - Priya Malik) R: Annie Lord (credit - Annie Lord)
Sep 28, 2020
Women fighting abuse under lockdown
As the coronavirus pandemic spread across the globe, victims of domestic violence found themselves facing a double threat - that of a deadly virus outside and abuse at home. Distress calls to domestic violence hotlines have soared - leaving charities overwhelmed and struggling to meet demand. Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women supporting domestic abuse survivors. Hospitalised by a former partner twice before being able to leave, Marica Phipps set up Battered Not Broken, a US charity providing education, support and resources for victims of domestic abuse. Tamara White is an Area Manager for Hestia, a charity that supports adults and children in times of crisis. It is one of the largest providers of domestic abuse refuges in London and South East England. IMAGE DETAILS L: Tamara White R: Marica Phipps
Sep 21, 2020
Writing a feminist anthem
Two women who’ve used music to empower women talk to Kim Chakanetsa about writing a song that becomes a rallying cry around the world. Madame Gandhi is a percussionist, producer and activist who has drummed for M.I.A and toured with Oprah. Her musical catalogue doubles as a manifesto for gender equality. Sibila Sotomayor is part of LasTesis - a collective of four female artists in Chile who wrote the song, A Rapist in Your Path. Within a few weeks of its first performance it was replicated hundreds of times around the world, and videos of flashmob performances from Turkey to Venezuela have gone viral. IMAGE DETAILS L: Sibila Sotomayor (credit: Sibila Sotomayor) R: Madame Gandhi (credit: Djeneba Aduayom)
Sep 14, 2020
Albinism: Dispelling the myths
Two women with albinism talk to Kim Chakanetsa about countering superstition and prejudice around the condition.   As a ‘white African’ growing up in Nigeria Ikponwosa Ero was well aware of the danger some people with the condition face. In June 2015 she was appointed the first UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism and campaigns against stigmatisation, myths and violence.   Connie Chiu is known as the first international fashion model with albinism. Born in Hong Kong she and her family moved to Sweden when she was a child to avoid harsh sunlight and in an effort to help her 'fit in.' She talks about challenging conventional ideas of beauty and wants to dispel the myth that albinism is limiting. IMAGE Left: Ikponwosa Ero (credit: A F Rouen) Right: Connie Chiu (credit: Ellis Parrinder)
Sep 07, 2020
Nurses on the frontline
Nurses risking their lives to treat coronavirus patients. Hospitals around the world - and in particular Intensive Care Units - have been described as the frontline of the pandemic. It's there that the sickest Covid19 patients are looked after round-the-clock by highly specialised nurses. Kim Chakanetsa talks to two of them at the height of the current outbreak. Hannah Gray is a 23-year-old nurse working in an Intensive Care Unit at a major London hospital. Her unit has rapidly expanded to accommodate extra patients, and all the staff are getting used to working in full PPE or Personal Protective Equipment. Hannah has been documenting her experiences on her blog, The Corona Lisa. Bianca Dintino is a 26-year-old critical care nurse based at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. She was among the first to volunteer to work with coronavirus patients when they started arriving at her hospital in mid-March. She describes the camaraderie that has developed among her co-workers. Image: (l) Bianca Dintino (credit: Anne Marie) (r) Hannah Gray (credit: Simi Sebastian)
May 11, 2020
The vagina myths
The vagina: separating myth from fact. Kim Chakanetsa and her two expert guests examine a part of the body that's often shrouded in mystery and shame. Dr Jen Gunter has been described as the world's most famous gynaecologist, and is also known as a fierce critic of the multi-million dollar wellness industry. The Canadian-American author of The Vagina Bible says 'Weaponizing women’s bodies is profitable' and believes companies are making money out of women's fears about their genitals. She wants to empower instead by debunking the myths and health misconceptions. Dr Susan Adongo Meme is an obstetrician and gynaecologist at Kenyatta National Hospital in Kenya. She says most women don't know that the place they urinate from is not the same place they menstruate from. Cultural taboos mean they are not encouraged to even look 'down there' and there's a general belief that the vagina is unclean. Potentially harmful douching is therefore widespread - as it is in other parts of the world, including the US. IMAGE L: Dr Susan Adongo Meme (credit Dr Susan Adongo Meme) R: Dr Jen Gunter (credit Jason LeCras)
Apr 13, 2020
Endurance cyclists
Riding across continents in some of the world's toughest cycle races.  Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women who've used their reserves of physical and mental strength.   Fiona Kolbinger was the winner of the Transcontinental Race in 2019. She crossed Europe, from Bulgaria to France - a distance of 4000km - in ten days two hours and 48 minutes. She beat the second closest rider, a man, by almost six hours. She says when a part of her was in pain she focused on the bits of her body that had hurt yesterday but had got better, knowing that something different would hurt tomorrow! Emily Chappell worked as a cycle courier in London before developing a taste for long distance adventures, cycling from Wales across Asia to Japan. In her first Transcontinental Race in 2015 she made it only halfway, waking up suddenly on her back in a field, floored by the physical and mental exertion. The following year she was the first woman to cross the line - two days ahead of the other female competitors. She says these cycling challenges make her feel powerful and confident in all aspects of life and more women should give it a go. Image (L) Emily Chappell (credit: Kristian Pletten) (R) Fiona Kolbinger (credit: James Robertson)
Apr 06, 2020
How to be a good man
Two women from South Africa and Australia discuss ‘toxic masculinity’ with Kim Chakanetsa. How can we raise boys to be in touch with their emotions and to become men who respect women? Clementine Ford is an Australian feminist whose books Fight Like A Girl and Boys Will Be Boys challenge traditional gender stereotyping. She regularly receives death and rape threats from people who accuse her of being a man-hater. She actually believes that a patriarchal society can be as damaging for men as for women. With a young son herself, she wants to see boyhood redefined to include sensitivity, kindness, respect and nurture. Sisonke Msimang is a South African writer whose work focuses on race, gender and democracy. Having lived in many different countries, she says that all societies allow and even expect men to be violent and predatory. She wants to dismantle this, but believes the term toxic masculinity is not helpful if you want to take the majority of people with you. Sisonke's memoir is called Always Another Country. IMAGE Clementine Ford (credit Clementine Ford) Sisonke Msimang (credit Nick White)
Apr 01, 2020
Women changing jazz
Female jazz musicians speaking out about sexism and harassment in the improvised music world. While jazz singers like Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday are iconic figures, female instrumentalists and composers have struggled to get the recognition they deserve. Kim Chakanetsa speaks to two women addressing this inequality and promoting female performers. A recipient of the MacArthur Genius Award, Regina Carter is a highly regarded jazz violinist who blends musical genres from jazz, R&B and Latin to classical, pop and African. She’s Artistic Director of the New Jersey Performing Arts All Female Jazz Residency, which supports aspiring women jazz professionals. Issie Barratt is an award-winning British jazz composer, conductor, baritone sax player and producer. She’s recently formed an all-female ensemble called Interchange, championing the creativity of women improvisers and composers. She founded the Jazz faculty at Trinity Laban College of Music and is a trustee for the Women’s Jazz Archive. IMAGE CREDITS: Issie Barratt [Rob Shiret/BBC] Regina Carter [Christopher Drukker]
Mar 23, 2020
Young women striking for climate change
The Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg may be the most well known, but climate change protests around the world are being led by young women. Activists from Uganda and Belgium tell Kim Chakanetsa why they are building huge movements in their countries. Hilda Flavia Nakabuye, a 22 year old Ugandan college student, has been protesting since 2017. She realized climate change was the cause of droughts affecting her family’s ability to grow food. In 2019 she set up #FridaysForFuture Uganda, and spoke at an international summit, saying 'I joined other young people all over the globe to protect our future. Through endless fights and sleepless nights, we hustle our way. Because this is our future.' Teenager Anuna De Wever Van Der Heyden led 35,000 young people on a climate change protest march in January 2019. She has become famous in Belgium and beyond, and has faced conspiracy theories, death threats and verbal attacks. False claims against her marches even led to the resignation of an environment minister, and Anuna says people simply find it hard to believe that young women can inspire and run their own movements. Image: L: Hilda F Nakabuye (credit: Hilda F Nakabuye) R: Anuna De Wever Van Der Heyden (credit: NICOLAS MAETERLINCK/AFP via Getty Images)
Mar 16, 2020
Women who need to talk about sex
What is the impact on women when societies stay silent about sex? Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women about why they think it's important to talk about sex openly and the price we pay when we don't. Bestselling Moroccan author Leila Slimani says that in a country where the law punishes and outlaws all forms of sex outside marriage, as well as homosexuality and prostitution, women have only two options for their sexual identities: virgin or wife. Her book Sex and Lies relays the stories women in Morocco have told her about their own sexual lives and frustrations. Amalia Macri recently opened an erotic boutique in Rome. She says that silence around sex and sexuality in Italy leaves people confused about issues of consent and pleasure, and women vulnerable to abuse. She hopes she can encourage people to talk openly about desire so that both women and men can have more healthy relationships. IMAGE CREDITS: L: Leila Slimani (Catherine Hélie ©Editions Gallimard) R: Amalia Macrì (Andrea Montanari)
Mar 09, 2020
Ocean champions
Our oceans are threatened by plastic pollution and overfishing. Kim Chakanetsa speaks to two pioneering women who are working to sustain our seas. Asha de Vos is a marine biologist who founded Oceanswell, Sri Lanka's first marine conservation and research organisation. Asha's particular research interest is blue whales. She says every stretch of coastline needs its own local hero, and it doesn't have to be a scientist. Emily Penn is a British oceans advocate and skipper who founded eXXpedition - a series of all-female sailing voyages around the world. These trips always include a group of non-sailors from different countries, and their aim is to raise awareness and find solutions for the impact of single use plastic on the ocean. Image L: Emily Penn (credit: Emmanuel Lubezki) R: Asha de Vos (credit: The Schmidt Foundation)
Mar 02, 2020
Is bad data killing women?
The impact of leaving women's bodies out of research ranges from phones that are too big for female hands, to women being more likely to die if they're in a car accident. Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women investigating the data gender gap and how to resolve it. Caroline Criado Perez says a ‘one-size-fits-men’ approach to design, technology and research has resulted in a myriad of instances where women have been overlooked: from cars that are safer for men driving them to stab vests that don't work as well for women's bodies. In her book, Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men she examines the impact on women of a world that has largely been built for and by men and looks at why data and statistics are far from 'gender-blind'. Lauren Klein says part of the solution lies in the lessons learned by intersectional feminism. The Associate Professor at Emory University has co-authored a book called Data Feminism with Catherine D’Ignazio. It looks at data science and data ethics and their impact on parts of society that are often overlooked and discriminated against. IMAGE L: Caroline Criado-Perez (credit: Rachel Louise Brown) R: Lauren Klein (credit: Tamara Gonzalez)
Feb 24, 2020
Injured by implants
Life-changing pain from supposedly routine implant operations. Kim Chakanetsa speaks to two women who were injured by medical devices, and have gone on to campaign for concerns about them to be taken seriously in the UK and US. Kath Sansom set up Sling The Mesh in 2015, ten weeks after having a trans-vaginal mesh implant for stress urinary incontinence (SUI), which immediately caused her excruciating pain and debilitation. It was removed seven months later, but Kath is still dealing with the physical and mental after-effects, and fights on for others left in chronic pain by mesh operations. In July 2018 the UK Government temporarily paused the use of vaginal mesh for SUI cases in England, while they carry out a safety review. This is due to report in Spring 2020. Angie Firmalino's permanent birth control implant caused heavy bleeding, fatigue, and sharp stabbing pains. Removing it left fragments of metal and plastic in her body, which continue to cause her health problems. Angie founded the Essure Problems online support group to share her story and warn other women of the risks. It grew to tens of thousands of members who took their concerns to the authorities. In 2018 the device was withdrawn voluntarily by the manufacturer, who say they stand by Essure’s safety and efficacy. IMAGE L: Angie Firmalino (credit: Angie Firmalino) R: Kath Sansom (credit: Kath Sansom)
Feb 17, 2020
Women rewriting history
History is told by the victor, and he's usually male. Kim Chakanetsa speaks to two historians who've made it their mission to track down 'ordinary' women of the past, and carve out a proper place in the history books for them. Hallie Rubenhold is a social historian whose book The Five focuses on Jack the Ripper's victims. These were real women with varied lives, before being killed and - mostly incorrectly - labelled as prostitutes. While their murderer remains unidentified over 130 years later, Hallie has pored over census records, ships' manifests, workhouse ledgers and newspaper cuttings to painstakingly reconstruct these women's stories. The Indian feminist historian Uma Chakravarti focuses on rehabilitating controversial women from the past and uncovering previously unknown women's stories. Uma's film A Quiet Little Entry is about an ordinary woman called Subbalakshmi, who contributed 'small acts of resistance' to India's struggle for Independence and left behind an extraordinary archive of papers. IMAGE L: Uma Chakravarti (credit: Uma Chakravarti) R: Hallie Rubenhold (credit: Johnny Ring)
Feb 10, 2020
Passionate about democracy
The relationship between women and democracy in Brazil and Bhutan - Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women with a passionate interest in their country's political system. Petra Costa's parents were dissidents under the military dictatorship in Brazil, and she was two when democracy returned. Petra filmed with the first female President Dilma Rousseff, as she was impeached in 2016, and followed the rise of the populist right-wing President Bolsonaro. In her Oscar-nominated Netflix documentary The Edge of Democracy, Petra asks if Brazilian democracy will survive, and how women will fare. Namgay Zam is a respected journalist in the small Himalayan country of Bhutan, which only transitioned from absolute monarchy to democracy a decade ago. The number of women MPs has increased in that time but Namgay says there is still a long way to go before women are respected and recognised fully in the political system. Image L: Namgay Zam (credit: Bhutan Street Fashion) R: Petra Costa (credit: Netflix)
Feb 03, 2020
Vegan campaigners
Is veganism more than just a food fad or diet trend? Research suggests the majority of vegans are female - why? Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women who promote a vegan diet about the challenges they face getting their message across - and the anger they encounter from those who see it as a criticism of their own choices. Selene Nelson is a British American freelance journalist, activist and author of Yes Ve-gan! In 2018 she offered an article to a supermarket chain magazine on vegan cookery and the editor responded including a joke suggestion for a series on “killing vegans one by one”. When his email was included in an article about hostile attitudes to vegans it caused such a furore he resigned. Itua Iyoha set up Eat Right Naija after transitioning to a vegan diet herself. She wants to share what she's learned with others in Nigeria and support them to make the change. She says she faces questions about whether she can't afford meat, is seriously ill or whether she'll ever find a man to marry her. IMAGE CREDITS: L: Itua Iyoha (Credit, Itua Iyoha) R: Selene Nelson (Credit, Selene Nelson)
Jan 27, 2020
Why I dated on reality TV
On Love Island and Date My Family - what's it like to date in front of millions? With TV dating shows the idea is for romance to blossom between contestants, but can fame and fortune also follow? Kim Chakanetsa brings together two women who know. Montana Brown is one of the breakout stars of the British TV show Love Island. She took part in 2017 and became popular for her no-nonsense attitude and quick-witted banter. Despite coming fifth in the dating competition, since leaving the villa she has amassed an impressive social media following and started her own swimwear company. Rey Letsooa became a household name in South Africa after appearing on the popular show Date My Family. Although she didn't ultimately get together with her chosen bachelor, her show trended on social media for three days and viewers seemed to connect with her confidence and authenticity. Rey says 'I knew I would get judged on my weight but I didn’t let it stop me. I may be a size whatever but I knew that what I am is more than that.' (Image: Montana Brown (L) Credit: BBC. Rey Letsooa (R) Credit: Rey Letsooa)
Jan 20, 2020
Women investing in women
Around 90% of all startup investment currently goes to male-led companies. Kim Chakanetsa speaks to two women who specialise in funding and supporting female startups, about why they believe investing in women is the smart choice. Marta Krupinksa is the Head of Google for Startups UK, and aims to encourage more women and under-represented founders to take the plunge into business. Marta herself co-founded the global financial technology company Azimo which raised over $70 million in venture capital. Having been the only woman in many meetings, she relishes her role now in connecting female entrepreneurs with potential investors, as well as providing mentoring and training. Anu Duggal was also an entrepreneur before deciding to create a capital fund that only invests in women-led startups - the Female Founders Fund. There is evidence that female entrepreneurs experience greater successes - and fewer failures - than their male counterparts, but traditional venture capital does not reflect this. Anu says that's why she chooses to put her money into talented businesswomen with disruptive and innovative ideas. (Image: Marta Krupinska (L) Credit Google for Startups UK. Anu Duggal (R) Credit Female Founders Fund)
Jan 13, 2020
Young, indigenous and female
Why does maintaining tribal traditions matter to these women? Kim Chakanetsa talks to two indigenous activists from Ecuador and the US about the lengths they are going to to protect their way of life from external threats. Nina Gualinga is a leader of the Kichwa community of Sarayaku in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Her people's lands cover more than 333,000 acres, mostly made up of pristine forest. Because her mother is from Sarayaku and her father is from Sweden, Nina considers herself as the bridge between two worlds, and is actively involved in defending Amazonian indigenous rights and territories. One of Nina Berglund's Native American names is Northern Lights Woman. She is a 20-year-old Northern Cheyenne and Oglala Lakota woman from Minnesota. Nina has gone to court to try and stop a replacement oil pipeline running through more than 40 wild rice beds, a means of survival for local indigenous tribes dating back thousands of years. She says 'We’ll be the ones birthing the next generation. We have to step up.' Image L: Nina Gualinga (credit Santiago Cornejo) R: Nina Berglund (credit Nolan Berglund)
Jan 06, 2020
Creating female superheroes
Two women making comic books more diverse speak to Kim Chakanetsa about working in a male-dominated industry and why they're so keen to represent women and minorities in comic books. G. Willow Wilson is a novelist and comic writer from the USA. She's best known for relaunching MS Marvel, starring Kamala Khan, a 16 year old Muslim female superhero, who takes over the mantle after Carol Danvers becomes Captain Marvel. Willow has fought back against claims that diverse characters damage comic book sales and continues to represent Muslim and female characters in her work. Nicola Scott is an Australian comic book artist who has illustrated several well known female superheroes, including Wonder Woman and Birds of Prey featuring Harley Quinn, which will be adapted for film in 2020. She also co-created the Black Magick series, about young witches. She says women working on comics add layers of humanity and quality to female characters that men might miss. IMAGE: (L) G Willow Wilson, credit Getty/MichaelTullberg (R) Nicola Scott, credit Nicola Scott
Dec 30, 2019
Women celebrating literature
Two women who set up book festivals that have gone on to become hugely successful in their own countries and beyond tell Kim Chakanetsa about the importance of women having space to talk about their writing with an audience that understands. Namita Gokhale directs the Jaipur Literature Festival with the British author William Dalrymple. The Festival has hosted nearly 2000 speakers and welcomed over a million book lovers from across India and the globe since its inception. Bringing together authors of books in India's 22 languages, it's a magnet for writers and readers alike. Namita Gokhale explains how it's developed over the years. Lola Shoneyin is a Nigerian literary powerhouse. She founded the Ake Festival in 2013. It's now a leading cultural event and attracts writers from around the world, as well as Africa's finest literary stars like Temi Oh and Ayobami Adebayo. A former teacher and prize-winning author, Lola says that African writers need to be able to talk about their books on African soil. Image: (L) Lola Shoneyin [credit Niyi Okeowo] (R) Namita Gokhale [credit Teamwork Arts]
Dec 23, 2019
Women creating computer games
Rhianna Pratchett and Ieva Beneckė talk to Kim Chakanetsa about their love of gaming and the impact they can have in an industry that's still dominated by men. What difference does women working in the industry have on the games themselves? It was while she was a journalist in London and reviewing computer games that Rhianna Pratchett was asked to story edit a game herself. Her award winning scripts include the Tomb Raider reboot series, The Mirror's Edge and Overlord. She now also writes film scripts. Ieva Beneckė grew up in Lithuania playing computer games with her dad. She never dreamed that she could work in the industry but taught herself the coding skills needed to create games anyway as it was her passion. She's now a Senior Games Designer and determined to create games that are truly inclusive. PHOTO: L: Rhianna Pratchett (c) The Estate of Sir Terry Pratchett R: Ieva Beneckė (credit: Ieva Beneckė)
Dec 16, 2019
Busting period taboos
Two women who've made it their mission to smash period taboos, and make it easier for girls to manage their menstrual health. Kim Chakanetsa speaks to campaigners from India and Tanzania. When Aditi Gupta got her first period she was banned from sitting on the family sofa or touching certain foods. From the women in her family she also learned to feel shame and to hide her damp menstrual rags in dark places, exposing her to infection. As an adult she decided to help break the taboo, and create the Menstrupedia comic book, a global resource for parents and teachers to talk about periods comfortably with their girls. Lucy Odiwa's first period arrived just as she was called on to answer a question in class. As she stood up her classmates began to snigger at the stain on her skirt. She says as well as being embarrassed and confused, she then often had to skip school when menstruating because she couldn't afford hygiene products. Now a successful businesswoman, she has developed a low-cost reusable sanitary towel. (Image: Lucy Odiwa (L) Credit: UN Women/Amanda Voisard. (R) Aditi Gupta. Credit: Menstrupedia)
Dec 09, 2019
Social media poetry stars
Poets Leticia Sala and Nikita Gill on being taken seriously by the establishment after launching their careers on social media. They talk to Kim Chakanetsa about overcoming snobbery around the title 'insta-poet' and balancing being able to share their work with millions of people with the immediacy of follower feedback. Nikita Gill is a British-Indian writer and artist. Born in Belfast, she spent the majority of her childhood in New Delhi. She had poems published in papers and magazines as a teenager but went on to study a 'more practical' degree. She began posting her poetry on Tumblr in 2015 and later on Instagram, where she now has over half a million followers. She's since had five books of poetry published. Leticia Sala is a Spanish poet and writer. A law graduate, she always assumed she couldn't earn a living as a professional poet, but then started getting huge feedback on poems she wrote and posted on social media in her spare time. She very quickly signed a book deal and has a huge online following in Europe and Latin America. Image credits L: Leticia Sala (Paloma Lanna) R: Nikita Gill (BBC)
Dec 02, 2019
Coaching national teams: Tracey Neville and Desiree Ellis
Two exceptional sportswomen who've coached their national teams to victory in major tournaments. England's former netball head coach and South Africa's women's football coach speak to Kim Chakanetsa. South African women’s football coach Desiree Ellis had a nine year international playing career, having to endure discrimination under apartheid and unemployment alongside pursuing her sports career. She says women’s football is now being taken seriously in her country and under her stewardship 'Banyana Banyana' qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 2019. Former England netball head coach Tracey Neville represented her country as a player before taking on the task of managing the ‘Roses’ in 2015. She had a miscarriage a day after leading the team to Commonwealth gold in 2018. A year later she made the difficult decision to quit her dream job to start a family, and is now expecting her first child. Image credits L: Tracey Neville (Press Association) R: Desiree Ellis (FIFA via Getty Images)
Nov 25, 2019
Female friendship
What's so important about friendships between women and how do they change over the course of our lives? Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women about making and keeping good friends. How do you maintain strong friendships when you're constantly on the move? Uloma Ogba is founder and CEO of Launch Africa, which offers career advice and mentoring to people wanting to work in international development. She works with the United Nations in Rwanda and has also co-founded the non-profit, Give Girls a Chance, which aims to increase access to quality education for girls across Nigeria. Given her busy, international lifestyle how does she keep the friends she has and make new ones when she travels? Kanwal Ahmed is a Pakistani entrepreneur and founder of Soul Sisters Pakistan, an online community which sets out to create a space where Pakistani women feel comfortable to speak their minds. 'I saw thousands of women coming together online, not even knowing each other, but standing up for each other and being there for each other.' More recently Kanwal has also launched a digital talk show, Conversations with Kanwal, about everything from love and loss to cyber harassment. Image L: Uloma Ogba (credit: Uloma Ogba) R: Kanwal Ahmed (credit: Sarosh Pirwani)
Nov 18, 2019
Putting women's stories centre stage
Bringing women's stories to the West End and Broadway stage - Kim Chakanetsa unites two playwrights who are on a mission to amplify female voices. Morgan Lloyd Malcolm wrote the sell-out play Emilia, an all-female production which re-imagines Shakespeare's mysterious 'Dark Lady' and offers a feminist rallying cry. After appearing at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre and in the West End, it has now been optioned for a film. Morgan is frustrated however at the relative lack of opportunities for female playwrights. 'There are so many women who aren’t getting to tell their stories and I’m doing my best to crack open the door.' Katori Hall is the US award-winning writer behind Tina - the critically acclaimed Tina Turner musical, as well as The Mountaintop and Our Lady of Kibeho. Katori began writing because she couldn't find a play that had a scene for two young black women, so decided 'I have to write those plays, then. I have to carry that baton forward and write us into existence, because if I don’t who else will?' She went on to become the first black woman to win the Olivier Award for Best New Play. Image L: Morgan Lloyd Malcolm (credit: David M. Benett/Getty Images) R: Katori Hall (credit: Noam Galai/Getty Images)
Nov 11, 2019
How motherhood changed me as a film-maker
Two prize winning documentary makers from Syria and China tell Kim Chakanetsa about using their own lives to explore the issues facing their home countries. Waad al-Kateab has documented her life on camera in war torn Aleppo, Syria. Whilst conflict, death and cruelty raged around her, she fell in love, got married and had a baby daughter. She captures stories of loss, laughter, sacrifice and survival in her film For Sama. A love letter from a young mother to her daughter, the film won the Golden Eye Documentary Prize in Cannes. Nanfu Wang was born under the one-child policy in China during the 1980s. After moving to the United States and getting pregnant with her first child in 2017, Wang returned to China in an effort to explore the direct effects of the 'population war' on her family and the wider community. The resulting documentary, One Child Nation, won the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary Feature at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. (Image: Waad al-Kateab (L) Credit: Waad al-Kateab. (R) Nanfu Wang. Credit: Sundance)
Nov 04, 2019
Women living positively with HIV
Two HIV positive women from Kenya and Italy talk to Kim Chakanetsa about how they overcame stigma to live well with the disease. Doreen Moraa Moracha was born to a HIV discordant couple (positive mother, negative father) and is the only one of her siblings that has the virus. As a young woman she found her status very hard to deal with, and spent some time off her anti-retrovirals. Now 27 and back on her life-saving medication, she has undetectable levels of the disease. Doreen wants to spread the message that HIV is not a death sentence, saying 'I'm just a fabulous host to a tiny virus.' Silvia Petretti is the CEO of Positively UK, which supports and celebrates people living with HIV. Originally from Rome, when Silvia got her own diagnosis more than 20 years ago, she felt broken and tainted. 'Internalised stigma crushed me and was reinforced by the stigma and ignorance in main stream society. But through meeting others living with HIV and becoming an activist I found a form of therapy and healing. I now believe and feel that I am whole and strong and worthy of love and respect, regardless of any circumstance.' Image L: Silvia Petretti (credit: Mareike Guensche) R: Doreen Moraa Moracha (credit: Michael Kaloki/BBC)
Oct 28, 2019
Psychotherapy pioneers: Esther Perel and Susie Orbach
While therapy was once considered the reserve of the rich, it's now part of many people's lives as they deal with trauma, relationship breakdown, and behavioural problems. But it remains relatively exclusive and incredibly private. Kim Chakanetsa is joined by Susie Orbach and Esther Perel, who are both trying to demystify the process without compromising confidentiality. Susie Orbach is a British psychotherapist and writer. Her first book, Fat is a Feminist issue was a ground breaking global bestseller that looked at the psychology of dieting and over-eating in women. She co-founded the Women’s Therapy room which helps vulnerable women through mental health crises. Her radio and podcast series In Therapy is a dramatised re-imagining of her conversations with patients.  Esther Perel is a Belgian psychotherapist who is credited with changing the way we think and talk about relationships through her books, podcasts and talks. She is host of the highly successful podcast, Where Should We Begin?, which takes listeners inside the therapy room with anonymous couples as clients. (Image: Esther Perel (L) Credit: Ernesto Urdaneta. (R) Susie Orbach. Credit: Andrew Crowley)
Oct 21, 2019
Women working in war zones
What's it like to provide aid in a war torn country? Two women who work in conflict zones talk to Kim Chakanetsa about what they feel are the most effective ways to make an impact. Irish nurse Avril Patterson has spent the past decade working in emergency situations, from Liberia to Afghanistan to Syria, where she spent four years. In 2018 she moved to Yemen to head the International Committee of the Red Cross’s health programme there. She says as a woman there are instances where she has access where men do not. Rola Hallam is a British-Syrian doctor and founder of CanDo, a social enterprise that allows local humanitarians the opportunity to provide healthcare to countries in need. Working with various Syrian-led NGOs, she played an integral part in building seven hospitals in Syria including the first ever crowdfunded hospital. Image L: Rola Hallam (credit TED/Bret Hartman) R: Avril Patterson (credit ICRC/Pawel Krzysiek)
Oct 14, 2019
Startups saving lives
How to turn a healthcare vision into reality - Yassmin Abdel-Magied speaks to two entrepreneurs from Vietnam and Nigeria who spotted an issue in medical care in developing countries and set about trying to solve it. Nga Tuyet Trang is a Vietnamese entrepreneur who discovered that newborn babies in Vietnam were dying of treatable conditions because of broken medical equipment. At the age of just 25, she founded a company to provide simple, cost-effective devices to maternity units, called the Medical Technology and Transfer Service (MTTS). Through her leadership, the social enterprise has delivered thousands of machines to hospitals around the world, and treated more than a million babies. Temie Giwa-Tubosun is a Nigerian-American health manager and founder of LifeBank, a business working to improve access to blood transfusions in Nigeria. Her aim is to end the shortage of blood supplies by increasing the efficiency of distribution and by educating people about the importance of blood donation. The idea came about after the birth of her first child, when she found out that many women in developing countries die in childbirth as a result of postpartum haemorrhage. In 2014, Temie was named one of the BBC’s 100 Women. L: Temie Giwa-Tubosun (Credit: LifeBank) R: Nga Trang Tuyet (Credit: MTTS)
Oct 07, 2019
Is mountain climbing worth the risk?
Mountain climbing is a notoriously high-risk, high-reward activity. Yassmin Abdel-Magied asks two pioneering female climbers who've scaled the world's highest peaks, if the danger and death toll affect women's participation. Masha Gordon is a Russian explorer who has broken the speed records for the Seven Summits Challenge (climbing the highest peak on each continent) and the Explorer's Grand Slam (the Seven Summits plus reaching the North and South Poles). Masha had a highly successful career in finance and only started climbing in her mid-30s whilst on maternity leave. She is the founder of Grit & Rock, a UK charity which gives teenage girls from deprived backgrounds the opportunity to complete a year-long mountaineering programme. Samina Baig is the first Pakistani woman to summit Mt Everest, and to complete all Seven Summits. She grew up in a one-room house in her mountain village, where she would often see groups of foreigners coming to climb the surrounding peaks but she never saw any Pakistani women among them. In 2010, aged 19, she decided to change all that and soon had a mountain named after her. Image L: Samina Baig - credit Mirza Ali R: Masha Gordon - credit Eric Larsen
Sep 30, 2019
The hugging dentists
Easing the fear of the dentist's chair - getting teeth fixed can be a traumatic experience for vulnerable patients. Kim Chakanetsa meets two women who use innovative methods to restore smiles. Dr Sharonne Zaks is not your average dentist. In her practice in Melbourne, Australia, she specalises in treating highly anxious patients, many of whom are survivors of sexual assault and trauma. These patients often experience a loss of control when lying back in the dentist's chair. Sharonne aims to open up communication with each patient, and to remove the shame they may feel about the state of their teeth. Sometimes she even uses music and massage to help patients feel more at ease. Dr Sonia Sonia is an Indian dentist who has dedicated her career to supporting survivors of domestic violence. Based in Brisbane, Australia, Sonia is herself a survivor of domestic abuse, and when she started practising dentistry she recognised the signs of abuse in her patients. Over time, she has helped women escape abusive relationships, and given then confidence to live their own lives. Sonia says her biggest reward is putting the smile back on someone's face. (Photo: L: Sharonne Zaks. Credit: Sharonne Zaks; (R) Sonia Sonia. Credit: Roshan Vas_Angel Photography)
Sep 23, 2019
Jobs for the girls?
Why are so many women not in work? Kim Chakanetsa brings together women from Jordan and South Africa - countries with two of the highest female unemployment rates in the world - to discuss the barriers women face getting into the workplace and how they could be overcome. Ghadeer Khuffash says that in Jordan, most women graduate not expecting to go into work. It's not just because jobs are scarce, it's also because they and their families aren't comfortable with them being in mixed sex workplaces. Ghadeer aims to provide more economic opportunities for women through her work with the nonprofit Education for Employment. In South Africa, in the midst of a jobs crisis, female unemployment is even higher than male. Pearl Pillay says that on top of the economic barriers, women are also overlooked, exploited and harassed in their attempts to find work. Pearl runs Youth Lab, a think tank that aims to give young South Africans a say in the policies that affect them, and she believes the whole conversation about jobs should be refocused on aspirations and fair wages. Image: L: Pearl Pillay (credit Drew Precious) R: Ghadeer Khuffash (credit EFE)
Sep 16, 2019
Cooking my culture
Migrant cooks serving up stories of home - Kim Chakanetsa meets two remarkable women who have used cooking to forge independent careers and to open up conversations about culture. Asma Khan is an Indian-born British chef whose popular London restaurant, Darjeeling Express, is entirely staffed by women. Asma herself only learnt to cook after she married in her early 20s and moved to the UK with her husband. She later started a supper club in her home, behind her family’s back, to support migrant women living in her area. Asma features on the acclaimed Netflix series, Chef’s Table. Her signature dish is biryani. Rose Dakuo came to the UK from Ivory Coast as a refugee aged 17. She later became homeless with four young children, after separating from her partner. But through that experience, Rose found her voice, and she has since dedicated her life to sharing West African food with others in her community, particularly those in need. She is now a regular chef at the ‘Welcome Kitchen,’ a collective of refugee chefs who cook at supper clubs and events across London. Rose specialises in food from across West Africa. Her favourite is Cheb Jen, a Senegalese rice dish.
Sep 09, 2019
Women using hip hop to change attitudes
What's life like for women in hip hop? Nelufar Hedayat brings together two outspoken female hip hop artists from Guatemala and Yemen, who aim to change attitudes with their songs. Rebeca Lane is a feminist hip hop star in Central America. She embraced hip hop as a form of protest music, and raps about issues that affect women such as domestic violence and femicide. She co-founded Somos Guerreras, an all-female rap collective that tours Europe and the Americas and holds workshops for women. Although famous outside her country she keeps a lower profile when in Guatemala, as she says being an activist there can be dangerous. Amani Yahya is a Yemeni musician who grew up in Saudi Arabia, returning to Yemen for high school. She became part of a thriving cultural scene there, performing her own brand of hip hop ballad to rapt audiences. However she also received threats from religious conservatives. When war broke out in 2014 she escaped back to Saudi Arabia only to face a backlash there too. Now based in the US, she is passionate about getting social messages across in her songs, including against child marriage. Image: L: Rebeca Lane (credit Belen Marco) R: Amani Yahya (credit Fredrik Gille)
Sep 02, 2019
Dementia carers
What does good care look like? Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women who have dedicated their lives to looking after and advocating for people with dementia in different parts of the world. Morejoy Saineti is a specialist dementia care nurse originally from Zimbabwe, now living in London. She has won numerous awards for her work after she pioneered a community palliative care service for people with dementia in the UK. After her own mother developed the condition, Morejoy also founded Africa Dementia Service to raise awareness of dementia in southern Africa. She has also partnered with Alzheimer's Society UK to tackle stigma in Zimbabwe as part of their Global Dementia Friends Network. Rabiab Nantarak works at a care facility in a village near Chiang Mai in Thailand, looking after western patients who have been diagnosed with dementia. Rabiab is a trained nursing assistant and has worked in this role for five years, having previously worked in the tourism industry. She believes that the most important skills for any caregiver are patience and the ability to give people space. The care home where Rabiab works is featured in a new documentary by Kristof Bilsen, Mother, which gives a moving portrait of the lives of the carers and their patients. L: Rabiab Nantarak (credit: Rabiab Nantarak) R: Morejoy Saineti (credit: Morejoy Saineti)
Aug 26, 2019
Women writing relationships
Do you really know the person you're dating? Kim Chakanetsa talks to two acclaimed female authors whose stories shine a harsh light on the duplicity of romantic relationships. Kristen Roupenian is the author of Cat Person, which became the first short story to ever go viral when it was published in the New Yorker in 2017. It's the tale of a young woman's brief relationship with an older man, and it sparked an online debate about consent, unwanted sex and honesty when dating. Cat Person is included in Kristen's book of short stories, You Know You Want This. Oyinkan Braithwaite is the writer of the novel My Sister, The Serial Killer. It's the story of two Nigerian sisters, one of whose boyfriends somehow keep ending up dead. Oyinkan says the murderous and stunning Ayoola has become an unlikely heroine for some readers, and that she is very interested in exploring the superficial nature of romantic liaisons, which lead to women's physical beauty often being their most powerful asset. L: Kristen Roupenian (credit Elisa Roupenian Toha) R: Oyinkan Braithwaite (credit Amaal Said)
Aug 19, 2019
Champion mums
World-class sportswomen combining motherhood with incredible athletic achievement. Kim Chakanetsa asks how they do it, what support they have behind the scenes, and what it means to them to be both a mother and a top athlete. Jasmin Paris is a record-breaking British ultrarunner and the first woman to win the infamous Spine Race, a winter marathon along the UK's Pennine Way which is widely regarded as one of the world's toughest endurance races. At the time Jasmin was still breastfeeding her baby daughter, and she had to express milk along the way. And that's not the only demand on her time - she also works full-time as a vet at the University of Edinburgh. Nicola Spirig is a 37-year-old professional Swiss triathlete, who gave birth to her third child in April this year, and was back competing just a few weeks later. Nicola won the gold medal in triathlon at the London 2012 Olympics, and came back after having her first child to win silver in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Now she's aiming for Tokyo 2020. She says she couldn't do it without the support of her husband, who does the bulk of the childcare. l: Nicola Spirig (Credit Swiss Triathlon) r: Jasmin Paris (Credit Yann Besrest-Butler / Montane Spine Race)
Aug 12, 2019
Female roadies
Most people's idea of a band 'roadie' is a burly bloke in a black T-shirt, lugging kit around a stage, living hard and touring constantly. Kim Chakanetsa speaks to two women who have broken this mould, living on the road with music royalty, and making them look and sound amazing. Known as the world’s first female roadie, Tana Douglas is something of a legend in her field. She started off working for the Australian rock band AC/DC when she was just 16. She went on to tour with huge international artists such as Elton John and Status Quo, specialising in lighting. Sound engineer to the stars, Becky Pell, regularly plays huge arenas on sell-out tours for artists like Kylie Minogue and Westlife, and for three years has been in charge of the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury, the world’s biggest festival. She says it's a myth that you need to be big and brawny to work on stage, it’s all about staying calm amid the chaos. l: Tana Douglas (credit BBC) r: Becky Pell (credit Becky Pell)
Aug 02, 2019
Women living with schizophrenia
Two women who hear voices and battle with delusions, tell Kim Chakanetsa about the stigma they have faced as women and how they have learnt to live with their condition. Esme Weijun Wang is a Taiwanese-American writer and author of the bestselling memoir, The Collected Schizophrenias. She talks about the long road to being diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, having suffered from poor mental health since she was a child. She finds what grounds her now, alongside therapy and medication, is journalling, dancing and spending time with loved ones. Reshma Valliappan is a Malaysian artist and activist living in India. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia when she was 22, and, after several years of treatment, decided to manage her condition without medication. Her unconventional approach is chronicled in the award-winning documentary, A Drop of Sunshine. She has also written a book, Fallen, Standing: My Life as a Schizophrenist. Image: (L) Reshma Valliappan Credit: Sushma Luthr (R) Esme Weijun Wang Credit: Kristin Cofer
Jul 29, 2019
Motherhood, multiplied
Raising four or six babies at once - what's it like? Kim Chakanetsa brings together two women in very different situations who are experiencing motherhood in its most concentrated form. In April 2012, Lauren Perkins gave birth to sextuplets in Texas, following fertility treatment. Her six children - Andrew, Benjamin, Caroline, Leah, Allison and Levi - are now seven years old. Lauren says the first year was a blur of feeding and laundry and now the family exist in a kind of controlled chaos. Her biggest challenge is balancing the needs of their daughter, Leah, who has severe disabilities, with those of the rest of the family. Inga Mafenuka is a single mum to baby quadruplets, who were born in Cape Town, South Africa in July 2018. Inga was 22 when she became pregnant naturally, and she gave birth to the two boys, Bubele and Buchule and two girls, Bunono and Bungcwele. To support the family, Inga has taken on a part-time job in retail, and is also continuing her IT studies, which were broken off by the pregnancy, but they are struggling for space in their two-bedroom house in the township. Sadly, following the broadcast of this programme, Inga Mafenuka’s baby son, Bubele, died on August 1st 2019. Produced by Jo Impey for the BBC World Service L: Lauren Perkins (credit: Lisa Holloway) R: Inga Mafenuka (credit: Armand Hough African News Agency)
Jul 22, 2019
We refuse to accept street harassment
Zero tolerance for street harassment. Two activists in France and India tell Kim Chakanetsa why they won't accept wolf whistles, groping or violent attacks on women in public spaces. Marie Laguerre is a French student who was cat-called and then assaulted outside a café in Paris in July 2018. The moment was captured on a video which went viral, getting nine million views. The man responsible was sent to prison for violence, but not for harassment. Marie has now become a figurehead for activism on this issue, and has started a website where women can anonymously report their stories of harassment and abuse. Elsa D'Silva is an Indian activist who founded SafeCity, an app and a movement to identify, map and combat sexual violence on the streets. Spurred on by the gang rape of Jyoti Singh Pandey in Delhi in 2012, Elsa decided it was time for women to take matters into their own hands. Her project has now expanded to Nepal, Kenya and Cameroon, and has had concrete results - toilets and streetlights have been fixed, police have upped patrols and men have been shamed into stopping staring. Image: (L) Photo and credit: Elsa D'Silva (R) Marie Laguerre Credit: Lily Martin, CBC
Jul 15, 2019
How language defines us as women
The way we talk about gender is evolving, but what impact do words have? Kim Chakanetsa meets two women at the forefront of the study of language and asks them whether the language we speak can impact on the way we think. Lera Boroditsky is a cognitive scientist, who moved from her native Belarus to the USA at the age of 12. She has long been fascinated by how the mind works and studies how language shapes the way we think. She argues that words can impact our thinking about gender. Lera is currently Associate Professor at the University of California, San Diego. Sophie Bailly is Professor of Language Sciences at the University of Lorraine in Nancy, France, a country where debates about language have long been polarised. Earlier this year, the Académie Française, the guardian of the French language, gave the go-ahead for female versions of certain job titles to be used, which represented an important step for French feminists. Produced by Jo Impey for the BBC World Service. (l) Sophie Bailly (credit: David Mayer) and (r) Lera Boroditsky (credit: Lera Boroditsky)
Jul 08, 2019
Do small loans really work for women?
Microlending is touted as a way to lift women out of poverty - with stories of small loans transforming lives in developing countries. But is that the reality? Kim Chakanetsa speaks to two women who lead microfinance organisations in India and the US. Julie Hanna is an Egyptian-born entrepreneur and chair of the board of Kiva, a US-based non-profit organisation that allows people to lend money via the internet to people on low incomes in over 90 countries. Julie herself came to the US as a child refugee, fleeing civil wars in Jordan and in Lebanon, where her family were living. She says it shaped her as a person. In 2015, President Obama named her Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship. Vijayalakshmi Das is the CEO of Friends of Women's World Banking, India, which is based in Ahmedabad. The organisation looks to not only provide women in India with microloans but also, through a group structure, provide support, knowledge and education for women in poverty so that they're able to use their new access to finance in a positive way. Image: L - Image and credit: Julie Hanna R - Image and credit: Viji Das
Jul 01, 2019
Fasten your seatbelts: Female flight attendants
What's it like to be a woman in the airline industry? Flying has undergone great changes in the past few decades, but Kim Chakanetsa asks how far perceptions of female cabin crew have really changed? Heather Poole has worked for a major US airline for 20 years. She's also the author of the bestselling book, 'Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama and Crazy Passengers at 30,000 Feet.' Through social media and blogging she has exposed what's really going on in the minds of cabin crew. Gretchen Ryan started working for South African Airways in 1983 and has just published a book about her experiences called 'Secrets of a Stewardess: Flying the World in the 1980s.' She describes a mad decade of travel during a time when flying was a luxury and to be an air hostess was seen by many as a glamourous life. Presenter: Kim Chakanetsa. L: Heather Poole (credit: Almeida) R: Gretchen Ryan (credit: Callyn Jones)
Jun 24, 2019
Women delivering better births
Women around the world are still dying unnecessarily in childbirth, and suffering 'violence' in the delivery room.  What can be done to empower pregnant women? Kim Chakanetsa talks to two female obstetricians who are fighting to improve birth experiences and safety for women in Brazil and the US. Dr Maria Helena Bastos is a Brazilian obstetrician who says that women in Brazil give birth in a very medicalised and highly scrutinised way, with some even forced to have Caesarean sections against their will. She is campaigning for women to be able to take control back of their bodies and their births. Dr Joia Crear-Perry is the Founder and President of the National Birth Equity Collaborative, set up to address the racial disparity in maternal and infant mortality in the US. Black mothers die in childbirth at 3 to 4 times the rate of white mothers. As a black mother and an obstetrician, Joia wants to end what she calls 'race-based medicine'. Image: L - Dr Joia Crear-Perry Credit: Comcast Newsmakers R - Image & credit: Dr Maria Helena Bastos
Jun 17, 2019
Women crunching numbers
Two women breaking the mould in maths and computer science talk to Yassmin Abdel-Magied about the significance of their achievements and the wealth of opportunity for women in technology. Emma Haruka Iwao is a Japanese computer scientist who recently smashed the pi record, by calculating the number to a new world record length of 31 trillion digits. The pursuit of longer versions of pi is a long-standing pastime among mathematicians. Emma has been fascinated by the number since she had been a child. She currently works for Google in Japan and in the US. Anne-Marie Imafidon broke records at a young age. At the age of 11, she was the youngest girl ever to pass A-level computing in the UK, and she was just 20 when she received her MA degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Oxford. Now she has become a renowned champion for women in the STEM sectors. In 2013 she co-founded Stemettes, a social initiative dedicated to inspiring young women to get into science, technology, engineering and maths. L: Emma Haruka Iwao (Credit: Google) R: Anne-Marie Imafidon (Credit: Stemettes)
Jun 10, 2019
Union women
What happens when women head up workers' unions? Joanna Impey brings together two powerful women in charge of the rights of millions of workers in the UK and Kenya. They talk about how they're trying to tackle the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace and how they're trying to make unions more relevant to younger women. Born to a family of union organisers in Oxford, Frances O'Grady is the first female General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress. With nearly six million members, the TUC is the largest democratic member organisation in the UK. She is also a single mother who says she is committed to the interests of the working women who make up over half of the TUC’s membership. Rose Omamo is the General Secretary of the Amalgamated Union of Kenya Metal Workers. She trained as a mechanic and worked as an assembler but as one of only two women working with 300 men she realised the only way to defend her rights was to stand as a shop steward. Known as 'Mama Union,' the members of her organisation are still 90% male. Image: L - Frances O'Grady Credit: Jess Hurd R - Rose Omamo Credit: Victor Mogoa
Jun 03, 2019
Women fighting an invisible disease
176 million women around the world have endometriosis, a condition which causes crippling pain. So why does it still go undiagnosed for years after women first develop symptoms? Two women from Lebanon and Barbados who speak out about living with 'endo' join Kim Chakanetsa. Carine El Boustani is an endometriosis fighter and advocate. She has struggled with the pain from endometriosis for over 10 years, but had her symptoms dismissed by multiple doctors. Since getting a diagnosis, Carine has undergone six surgeries and several treatments. She decided to start raising awareness to help end the stigma surrounding the condition in the Middle East, and has also led the Ottawa EndoMarch. She is currently writing a book about her experiences, and plans to start her own 'endo' support organisation in Lebanon. Julia Mandeville was diagnosed with severe endometriosis at 24, but had known something was wrong from her first period at the age of 10. She says discussion of menstrual health is too often considered taboo in the Caribbean, but women and girls should feel empowered to speak out. She co-founded the Barbados Association of Endometriosis and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in 2016, which published a book called Invisible not Imaginary, and is focusing on letting teenage girls know their pain is valid. L Carine El Boustani (credit: Kamara Morozuk) R Julia Mandeville (credit: Akinwole Jordan)
May 27, 2019
The beauty of ageing
How to subvert the negative stereotypes about older women? Kim Chakanetsa brings together two women - both in their late 70s - to discuss how to grow older with purpose, passion, and a certain playfulness. Chilean author Isabel Allende is one of the most acclaimed writers in the world. Her novels, which draw on her own eventful life, tell stories of love, exile and loss, and have sold more than 70 million copies and have been translated from Spanish into 42 languages. Now aged 76, she has spoken openly about how to live passionately at any age. Also aged 76, Lynne Segal is a British-based feminist academic who has grappled with the paradoxes, struggles and advantages of ageing in her book, 'Out of Time: The Pleasures and Perils of Ageing'. Originally from Australia, Lynne is also a seasoned feminist and social activist and is Professor of Psychology and Gender Studies at Birkbeck College, London. Produced by Jo Impey for BBC World Service. Image: (L) Lynne Segal (credit Andy Hall/Getty Images) (R) Isabel Allende (credit Lori Barra)
May 20, 2019
Mums: Online and influential
What happens when you share your family life online with millions of other mothers? And what responsibilities does it come with? An Indian blogger and British vlogger who both focus on motherhood discuss with Krupa Padhy. Louise Pentland is a parenting vlogger who was recently named as Britain's top 'mumfluencer' by Mother & Baby magazine. Her YouTube channel has more than 2.4 million subscribers who watch her sharing her life with her two daughters Darcy, eight, and Pearl, one. She says no-one tells new mothers how lonely it can be, and while not shying away from the worst bits, her main aim is to bring positivity to her audience. Louise is also a successful fiction writer and her new novel is called Wilde About the Girl. Shweta Ganesh Kumar is the founder of the blog The Times of Amma – amma being the term for mother in several South Asian languages. It has been listed amongst the top ten Indian mom blogs to follow on multiple parenting sites, as has Shweta's Instagram account. Shweta started blogging to connect with other mothers, particularly ex-pat ones like herself. Her message is simple - it's OK to not be perfect. Shweta is a writer too, and her books include The Beginner’s Guide to the Indian Mom Blogging Universe. Image: L: Louise Pentland credit Nicky Johnston R: Shweta Ganesh Kumar credit Sagar Rajgopal
May 13, 2019
Body hair
What does your body hair say about you? Can the decision to remove it be a sign of patriarchal oppression? Yassmin Abdel-Magied meets two women who decided to go against social norms and stop shaving and waxing their legs, underarms and pubic area. They discuss what's at stake for women in different parts of the world when it comes to body hair, and the unexpected reactions they got from their own family when they decided to let it grow. Busra Erkara is a Turkish writer who works for Year Zero, a bilingual magazine based in Istanbul. She was initiated into waxing by her mother and grandmother at the age of 13, but began to question why women remove body hair when she encountered feminist narratives about hair removal in Sweden and in the US. She’s written openly about her own conflicted approach to body hair as a Middle Eastern woman. Busra will soon take on the role of Director of Content at Odunpazari Modern Museum in Eskisehir, due to open in the summer of 2019. Emer O’Toole is an Irish writer and theatre scholar who has written extensively about body hair after her own decision to stop removing it as a feminist statement some eight years ago. She says it was hard to deal with the shame and embarrassment of being ‘hairy’ and even harder to deal with her mother's disapproval, but now she’s proud of what it says about her. Emer is Associate Professor of Irish performance studies at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, and author of the book Girls Will Be Girls: Dressing Up, Playing Parts and Daring to Act Differently. Image: L: Busra Erkara Credit: Naima Green R: Emer O'Toole Credit: Next Gen
May 06, 2019
Is tidying a feminist issue?
Women are still the ones expected to be on top of household organisation, so does that make tidying up a feminist issue? With the 'decluttering' trend going global, Yassmin Abdel-Magied discusses with two women from Kenya and Belgium, who help people to organise their stuff professionally.   Annelies Mentink became a professional organiser in 2016, following burnout from a stressful job in the banking industry and post-natal depression. 'I discovered that helping people to sort stuff was a real job and I love doing it.' She has since published a bestselling book in Flemish, Cleaning Up Makes You Happy! and started her own training academy for budding declutterers. As the youngest of 13 children, Faith Kaimba always had to be extremely organised with her own stuff. So it was a natural leap for her to go into the growing decluttering business in Kenya. She now trades as Faith the Organizer, and says because the modern African woman is expected to do it all, they need someone like her to help them reduce the household chaos. L: Faith Kaimba (credit: Dennis Kibaara) R: Annelies Mentink (credit: Wilfried Verreck Fotografie)
Apr 29, 2019
Survivors of sexual assault
Breaking the silence on sexual assault. Two women tell Kim Chakanetsa how they worked through the trauma of sexual violence, and then decided to speak out to help others. Brisa De Angulo supports young survivors of sexual abuse in Bolivia, through her charity A Breeze of Hope. At the age of 15, she herself was raped by a member of her extended family, but when she tried to report the crime to the authorities she was ostracised and belittled. At just 17, Brisa decided to set up an organisation which provides medical, social and legal services to fellow young rape victims, so they didn't have to go through the ordeal she did. Winnie M Li is an author, activist and founder of the Clear Lines Festival. Winnie was working as a film producer in the UK before her career was disrupted, at the age of 29, when she was raped by a stranger. This prompted a long period of recovery, followed by a change in career. Winnie decided to focus on addressing the issue of sexual assault through the media, the arts and academia. Her debut novel, Dark Chapter, which was based on her experience of sexual violence, won The Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize 2017. L Winnie M Li (credit: Grace Gelder) R Brisa De Angulo (credit: Parker Palmer)
Apr 15, 2019
Female film composers
How to break the 'celluloid ceiling' in the movie industry, a term used to describe the under-representation of women in Hollywood? The numbers are particularly shocking when it comes to film soundtracks. In 2018, 94% of the music in Hollywood's highest grossing films was composed by men, according to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University. Nelufar Hedayat asks two successful female composers why the numbers are so low and what can be done to close the gap? Hildur Guðnadóttir is an Icelandic composer, cellist and singer who is at the forefront of experimental pop music. She has composed a number of film scores, including Sicario: Day of the Soldado and the 2019 Joker film, starring Joaquin Phoenix, both of which have been described as 'macho' big budget features. She says she got in through the back door, because of the particular experimental style she has developed, and was surprised by the response she got when she arrived in Hollywood. Lolita Ritmanis is an Emmy Award-winning American composer, who is best known for the memorable themes she’s created for iconic superheroes, including for the animated series, Justice League. Lolita is the co-founder of the Alliance for Women Film Composers, which aims to increase the visibility of female composers in the film industry. Image: (l) Lolita Ritmanis. Credit: Thomas Mikusz (r)Hildur Guðnadóttir. Credit: Antje Taiga Jandrig
Apr 08, 2019
My family's hidden history
Discovering how your family was caught up in major historical events...two women from India and Singapore tell Kim Chakanetsa why they started digging into family secrets, how these stories were lost or deliberately forgotten, and the role that gender played. Aanchal Malhotra's grandparents fled what is now Pakistan in the chaos of Partition in 1947. Until she began to research her book Remnants of Partition: 21 Objects from a Continent Divided, she never knew their traumatic migration stories. They had buried them deep. Aanchal managed to persuade her grandmothers to reveal their secrets using the few objects they managed to bring with them. Aanchal is an artist and oral historian. Sim Chi Yin's grandfather was caught up in two different conflicts, the Malayan Emergency and then the Chinese Civil War. He was executed by nationalists in China in 1949. When Chi Yin discovered this history, taboo in her family for decades, it became the starting point for her photographic project One Day We'll Understand. She has since gone on to gather oral histories from the remaining leftist rebels of the Malayan conflict. Chi Yin is a photographic artist and nominee member of Magnum Photos. L Sim Chi Yin (credit: Low) R Aanchal Malhotra (credit: Aashna Malhotra)
Apr 01, 2019
The Conversation in Lagos
Nigeria is a country where women take leading roles in business, media and the arts yet for many, feminism is a filthy word. The country recently went to the polls and out of a list of 73 presidential candidates just eight of them were women. One of them, Eunice Atuejide sparked a fierce debate when she announced, “I am not a feminist”. She went on to say, “And who is a feminist? So what is Nigerian feminism? This is a country that has a history of legendary women, from the warrior Queen Amina of Zazzau to the 1929 ‘Women’s War’ where thousands of women came out in protest against British tax collections. Yet according to a recent UNICEF report, one in four girls in the country have experienced sexual violence, while 23% of women between the ages of 18 and 24 have experienced physical or sexual violence in the home. The Conversation has come to Lagos to meet a panel of successful and outspoken women, each leaders in their field, to challenge pre-conceptions and break some myths about what it means to be a woman in Nigeria. They discuss the highs and lows of their experiences with an audience of some of the sharpest young minds of the future, students from the University of Lagos. Fatima Zahra Umar is a lawyer, writer and gender activist behind the popular blog #DivorceDiaries. Ijeoma Umebinyuo is described as one of the top ten contemporary poets from Sub-Saharan Africa. Ijeoma says "I am always sharpening the blade of my pen". Bisola Aiyeola is a Nollywood actress, singer and Reality TV star. Oluwaseun Osowobi is the founder and Executive Director of 'The Stand to End Rape Initiative'. She is also 2019's Commonwealth Young Person of the Year for her role in fighting gender based violence. There is also a special ‘anonymous’ guest appearance by storyteller, blogger and cultural commentator ‘Diary of a Naija Girl’. Presented by Kim Chakanetsa and produced by Andrea Kennedy. Image (L-R): Fatima Zahra Umar (Credit: Ami Mansur), Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi (Credit: Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi), Ijeoma Umebinyuo (Credit: Ijeoma Umebinyuo), Bisola Aiyeola (Credit: TMPL)
Mar 23, 2019
Women and self defence
Empowering women with self-defence skills is the aim of our two guests, who have both adapted traditional martial arts to create classes for women. They tell Celia Hatton about the transformation they see in their students when they first realise their own strength, and the power of self defence to change lives. They also discuss the potential danger of putting the onus on women to deal with violence, rather than tackling the problem of the perpetrators. Catalina Carmona Balvin runs The School of Self Defence for Women in Bogotá, Colombia, a country which has high levels of street harassment and domestic violence. Catalina teaches a form of Hapkido, a Korean martial art characterized by its emphasis on deflecting an opponent’s attacks instead of on forceful blocking, but she makes sure her classes provide a fun, safe environment, more inspired by salsa dancing than by hard-core, macho moves. Susie Kahlich runs an organisation in Berlin called Pretty Deadly, which teaches self-defence courses tailored for women. Originally from the US, Susie turned to martial arts after she became a victim of violent crime in Los Angeles nearly 20 years go. Susie invites her students to wear whatever clothes they would usually wear, from long skirts to headscarves, in order to make the moves easily adaptable to everyday scenarios. L: Catalina Carmona Balvin (credit: Andrés Epifanio Becerra García) R: Susie Kahlich (credit: Sahand Zamani)
Mar 18, 2019
Women saving lions and bears
Protecting lions in Kenya and grizzly bears in the US - two women tell Kim Chakanetsa about their experiences and achievements in the male-dominated field of wildlife conservation. When Shivani Bhalla realised that lions - her country's national symbol - were in trouble, she established a project in northern Kenya to protect them. She works with the whole community to prevent lion deaths. This includes the traditional Samburu women, who are leading their own conservation efforts under the title of Mama Simba, which means Mother of Lions. Louisa Willcox has spent the last three decades battling to protect the grizzly bear population in the US. In 2018 she helped get the bears back onto the endangered species list, meaning that planned trophy hunts on state lands had to be cancelled. There are around 700 grizzlies left in the Greater Yellowstone area, and Louisa says the females count the most, because they hold the key to recovery. L-Background image: Lion Credit: Ewaso Lions L-Image: Shivani Bhalla Credit: Nina Fascione R-Image: Louisa Willcox Credit: Louisa Willcox R-Background image: Grizzly bear Credit: Richard Spratley
Mar 11, 2019
The Conversation in Dublin
Ireland voted in two ground-breaking referendums in the last five years. The same sex marriage referendum and Irish abortion referendum have changed the lives of many women in the country forever. And the campaigns continue. The Irish people are expected to go the ballot again to vote on removing a clause from the Irish Constitution that effectively says a woman’s place is in the home. The Conversation has gone to Dublin Castle to meet a panel of successful and outspoken influencers, each a trailblazer in their field and responsible for pushing the boundaries of what women are allowed to have and achieve. They discuss life after the referendums, and what’s next in the fight for equality in Ireland in front of a lively audience. Ailbhe Smyth is a veteran feminist activist who led the Repeal the 8th Campaign and founded ‘Marriage Equality’ to fight for the rights of same sex couples to marry Stefanie Preissner is a best-selling author, screenwriter and playwright and the creator of Ireland’s hit TV series ‘Can’t Cope Won’t Cope’ Nicci Daly is an Irish Hockey star, Motorsport engineer and founder of ‘Formula Females’, a campaign to promote women in motor racing Dil Wickremasinghe is a ground-breaking broadcaster in mainstream Irish media who publically called out sexism in the workplace in 2017 Presented by Kim Chakanetsa and produced by Sarah Kendal and Andrea Kennedy Image (L-R): Ailbhe Smyth (Credit: Paul McCarthy/GCN), Nicci Daly (Credit: Morgan Treacy/Inpho), Stefanie Preissner (Credit: Emily Quinn) and Dil Wickremasinghe (Credit: Dena Shearer)
Mar 02, 2019
The 2018 Nobel science women
Two female scientists won Nobel Prizes in 2018, which was unprecedented in a single year. They join Kim Chakanetsa to discuss the whirlwind that followed their wins, their ground-breaking research, and how they believe more women can be recognised for their work. At a glittering ceremony in Stockholm in December 2018, Canadian Donna Strickland became the first woman for 55 years to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics. One of the world’s leading laser physicists, based at the University of Waterloo, she was recognised for her co-invention of Chirped Pulse Amplification, a technique that has since been used as part of laser eye surgery and in the creation of smartphone screens. Donna is honoured to become one of just three women to ever win this award, but says she can't speak for all women. At the same ceremony, Frances Arnold became the fifth woman, and the first American woman, to win the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. From her lab at Caltech, Frances pioneered the directed evolution of enzymes, which has led to a wide range of more cleanly and cheaply made products, from laundry detergents to biofuels and medicines. She says that change for women in science cannot come fast enough, and she hopes that these two wins are 'the beginning of a steady stream' of recognition for female scientists. L-Image: Donna Strickland Credit: University of Waterloo R-Image: Frances Arnold Credit: Caltech
Feb 25, 2019
Women who resolve conflict
How do women handle high stakes hostage crises and complex conflicts? Kim Chakanetsa brings together two women who have successfully worked with some of the most dangerous men in the world in order to diffuse a kidnap situation or to try to rehabilitate them back into the community. Sue Williams is a British hostage negotiator who, over a career spanning almost three decades, has overseen the successful resolution of hundreds of hostage crises. During her time with the UK's Metropolitan Police, she was in charge of both the Kidnap and the Hostage Crisis Negotiation Units. She now works independently, mainly for NGOs and charities operating in dangerous parts of the world.  Fatima Akilu is a Nigerian psychologist whose work centres on the fall-out from the brutal Boko Haram insurgency in the country’s North East. Since 2009, the militant Islamist group has inflicted a relentless stream of suicide bombings, beheadings and kidnappings in the region. As Director of the Neem Foundation, Fatima works with victims as well as perpetrators in an effort to reintegrate them into the community. L: Dr Fatima Akilu (credit: Dr Fatima Akilu) R: Sue Williams (credit: BBC)
Feb 18, 2019
The Conversation in Karachi
How do you tackle cyber bullying? Do feminists hate men? And what has #MeToo done for Pakistan? These are just some of the questions tackled by the all-female panel brought together for this special edition of The Conversation, recorded in front of an audience of Karachi University Students from the Institute of Business Administration. Pakistan is placed second to last in the latest Global Gender Gap Index, beaten only by war-ravaged Yemen, and yet it has also voted in a female Prime Minister, had female generals within the armed forces and a strong feminist movement ever since its birth in 1947. Many of the issues women face here are the same as those faced by women across the world but the stakes can be very high. How a woman behaves in public can, in extreme cases, be a matter of life or death. On the panel are: Faiza Saleem – pioneering comedian and founder of the first female stand-up group in the country Hajra Khan – The first Pakistani, male or female, to have been signed by a foreign football club and captain of the women’s national football team Mahira Khan – Pakistan’s biggest female film star the award winning actress Nighat Dad - set-up Pakistan’s first cyber bullying helpline and lawyer involved in Pakistan’s first #MeToo case Presented by Kim Chakanetsa and produced by Andrea Kennedy Image: Faiza Saleem, Mahira Khan, Hajra Khan and Nighat Dad (L-R) Credit: Faiza Saleem, Huma Akram, Shakeel Bin Afzal and Nighat Dad (L-R)
Feb 17, 2019
Women undercover
What is it really like to go undercover as a woman? Our two guests set out to better understand the sex trafficking trade, and to gain deeper insight into life in North Korea. Suki Kim and Mimi Chakarova talk to Kim Chakanetsa about how they did it, and the challenges they faced. Suki Kim is an investigative journalist and novelist who was born and raised in South Korea. Her bestselling 2014 book, 'Without You, There Is No Us', describes the six months she spent undercover in Pyongyang, teaching the sons of North Korea’s elite at a private university, in the final days of Kim Jong-il’s reign. She says that when the book came out she was surprised by the reaction of her fellow journalists, who chose to focus on what they saw as her 'deception and lies' rather than the unique insights she had gathered on this highly secretive society. Bulgarian-American photographer and filmmaker Mimi Chakarova posed as a sex worker to investigate how women are trafficked in Europe and the Middle East for her 2011 documentary, 'The Price of Sex'. She says going undercover was terrifying, but it was the only way as a woman she could access brothels and sex clubs. Her brief forays covertly filming in those places gave her some idea of what life was like for the women who had been sold into that world. Mimi's most recent project, Still I Rise, celebrates people who persevere in spite of their struggles. Image: L - Mimi Chakarova Credit: Stefania Rousselle R - Suki Kim Credit: Ed Kashi VII
Feb 11, 2019
Women Shaking Up Universities
What difference does it make when women run universities? There are many higher education leaders who champion the idea of diversity, but few of them truly embody it, so the view from the top is still largely pale and male. Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women who are shaking things up in their institutions in the United States and Ecuador. Ana Mari Cauce is the first woman, the first Latina and the first openly gay president of the University of Washington in Seattle, US. She says it’s important to remember that universities began as monastic institutions built with men in mind, and she often finds that they still struggle to adapt to the presence of women. Cecilia Paredes Verduga is the first female Rector of the highest-ranking public university in Ecuador, ESPOL (Escuela Superior Politecnica del Litoral). With a background in the male-dominated field of engineering and in a country with a culture of machismo, Cecilia feels it's important to be herself in the role and to say things as they are. L Cecilia Paredes Verduga (credit: Jose Javier Roldos) R Ana Mari Cauce (credit: University of Washington)
Feb 04, 2019
I Was Put into Care
What’s it like to grow up away from your family? Two women who spent part of their childhoods in care tell Kim Chakanetsa how they look back on that time, and how the experience has shaped them as adults. As a child, Rukhiya Budden experienced terrible neglect and abuse growing up in an orphanage in Kenya. Today she campaigns for orphanages to be abolished worldwide, as she believes such institutions can never provide the level of care that children really need. Following her mother’s death, Hayley Kemp was left at a children's home by her father, who had told her they were going to the dentist’s; she was eight years old. She remembers her year in the home as the happiest time in her childhood. She says that growing up in care has drawn her to work with refugees, as she finds it easy to empathise with their sense of displacement. (L) Image and credit: Hayley Kemp (R) Rukhiya Budden (credit: Hope and Homes for Children)
Jan 28, 2019
Female Fury
What is making women angry, and can that rage be channelled for good? Kim Chakanetsa speaks to feminist writers from South Africa and the US. US writer and media critic Soraya Chemaly says women across the world have a right to be angry. Their rights are undermined, they're routinely underpaid and belittled. But from an early age girls are also taught to suppress their anger and calm themselves down when fired up. She says women need to learn to embrace rage as a tool for positive change. Soraya recently published a book called Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger. Dela Gwala is a South African activist and writer, who found feminism in the aftermath of being sexually assaulted. Her white-hot rage at the victim-blaming she faced fuelled her campaigning. It was only when that anger ran out a couple of years later that she says she realised she needed to confront and deal with her other emotions. Dela recently contributed to an anthology called Feminism Is: South Africans Speak Their Truth. L - Dela Gwala (credit: Dela Gwala) R - Soraya Chemaly (credit: Karen Sayre)
Jan 21, 2019
The Women Who Plan Luxury Parties
Taking event planning to another level, from supplying bespoke flip flops to conjuring unforgettable scents and flying a plane filled with flowers into the desert, two luxury party planners working in Ibiza and Kuwait reveal the secrets of their trade. Their work demands a keen eye for detail and an endless ability to manage vast budgets and the sometimes outlandish expectations of the rich and famous, all while keeping a cool head. Serena Cook is the founder of Deliciously Sorted, a firm that organises birthday bashes, corporate events and bohemian weddings for the rich and famous in Ibiza. Her A-List clients include George Clooney, Katy Perry and Johnny Depp. When Bibi Hayat first started her event planning business she was the only woman doing so in Kuwait City. Through her company Bibi Hayat Events and Design, she has established herself as the person to dial if you are looking to create a memorable bespoke event. Produced by Sarah Kendal for BBC World Service Bibi Hayat (l) Credit: Bayan Al-Sadiq Serena Cook (r) Credit: Mar Photography
Jan 14, 2019
Female football agents
Is being an agent to female soccer players different from representing men? Kim Chakanetsa speaks with two female football agents from the UK and France who have male and female clients. They handle everything from tough salary negotiations and sponsorship deals to the all-important image management. Jennifer Mendelewitsch was the only woman out of 400 agents in France when she qualified 15 years ago. She has built a reputation as a fearsome negotiator and describes herself as part-mother part-friend to her clients, especially the young male players. She says her biggest challenge is getting them to understand the potential repercussions of over-sharing on social media for their future careers. Georgie Hodge is a former player turned agent to the UK's emerging female football stars. She says while the salaries women players can command are still nothing like the men's, major sponsors are finally waking up to their value as brand ambassadors. Because the women's game is still building, Georgie says her players want to positively represent the whole sport, not just worry about their own careers. (Image: (L) Jennifer Mendelewitsch and (R) Georgie Hodge)
Jan 07, 2019
Women Styling Bollywood and Hollywood
A floor-length gown, a strong pose and hundreds of flashing cameras: Kim Chakanetsa brings together the women behind the glamour, making actors and models look good on the red carpet, on stage and even on the street. They are stylists working for some of the most photographed women in Bollywood and Hollywood. How does fashion shape these celebrities' careers, and how do they handle the scrutiny and criticism their clients can receive? Tanya Ghavri is one of Bollywood's busiest stylists. With a decade of experience in the business, Tanya has styled India’s A-list including the actors Kareena Kapoor, Frieda Pinto and Katrina Kaif. Tanya says traditionally Indian designs tend to gain more traction on social media, but Western styles and brands are all over the high street. Some of Tanya's celebrity clients have faced a backlash for wearing more revealing outfits. Emma Watson, Chrissy Teigen and Chanel Iman are among the stars Anita Patrickson has dressed. She grew up on a farm in South Africa and is now an established stylist based in Los Angeles. She began her career working for Condé Nast, and now styles editorial and advertising campaigns as well as the red carpet. She says while her work is focused on making her client look fabulous and feel comfortable, it is also about developing a strategic relationship with a brand. L: Tanya Ghavri (credit: Neha Chandrakant) R: Anita Patrickson (credit: JSquared)
Dec 31, 2018
Parkour women: The city is my playground
Gaining freedom and strength from your everyday environment. The sport of parkour involves moving around urban obstacles as quickly as possible. Athletes run up walls, scale fences, and jump between roofs. Two female parkour enthusiasts tell Kim Chakanetsa what this sport gives them in areas where women can feel unsafe in the streets. Reem El-Taweel is a parkour athlete from Egypt, living in Dubai. She says when she was living in Egypt it was tough to train because of the street harassment she faced. When she first started she was the only girl, but now more girls are getting into it. She moved to Dubai to follow her dreams and become an assistant parkour coach. She says as a hijabi athlete she is also breaking a stereotype. Silke Sollfrank is a professional parkour athlete from Munich. Her gymnastic background allowed her to quickly develop her own playful style of movement, which has attracted a lot of attention in the parkour scene. She has more than 20k followers on Instagram and landed a spot on Netflix's intense obstacle course series Ultimate Beastmaster, where she was the last female finalist. Silke is the only female athlete in her parkour team. Left: Reem El-Taweel (credit: Katy Vickers) Right: Silke Sollfrank (credit: Matthias Voß)
Dec 24, 2018
War Through A Woman’s Lens
As a conflict photographer you need bravery, passion and an ability to bear witness to unimaginable horror. Kim Chakanetsa brings together two women who are exceptional photojournalists and asks do female photographers look at conflict differently?   The American photographer Lynsey Addario is one of very few women on the frontline, documenting major wars and humanitarian crises around the world. During her career she has been kidnapped twice, but despite the toll on her personal life, she remains committed to revealing the cost of war. Though she says she has received criticism for working while pregnant, being a woman has given her unique access to the lives of women in war zones. Her work has garnered her numerous awards and she was part of the New York Times team that won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize in 2009. Her most recent book is called Of Love and War and is her first published collection of photographs.   Poulomi Basu is an Indian documentary photographer who has been described as a visual activist for her fearless examination of systemic injustices. Her lens focuses on stories that often go ignored or underreported, particularly those of women in isolated communities and conflict zones. She says it is important to bring the perspectives of women of colour to photojournalism. Her images have appeared in a wide range of publications and she has received a number of photography awards, including a Magnum Foundation Award and a National Geographic Grant. Image: Poulomi Basu by Flora Thomas (L) Lynsey Addario by Nichole Sobecki (R)
Dec 17, 2018
Women Opening Up Classical Music
Why is classical music still so male and pale, and what can be done about it? Kim Chakanetsa talks to two leading female musicians who are working to challenge the status quo and open up orchestras to more women and people of colour. Of Nigerian-Irish parentage, Chi-chi Nwanoku realised that 30 years into an illustrious career as a double-bassist she was still one of vanishingly few non-white faces on the classical music stage. So in 2015 she started Chineke!, Europe’s first majority-black and minority ethnic orchestra. Her project is already bearing fruit, with one of her members Sheku Kanneh-Mason, playing solo at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Mei-Ann Chen is a conductor from Taiwan, and Musical Director at the Chicago Sinfonietta - a professional orchestra founded in the 1980s to showcase the talent of African American and Latino musicians. As well as insisting on diversity in her orchestra and the music they play, Mei-Ann is passionate about opening up the overwhelmingly male-dominated world of conducting to more women, and says she would never have succeeded without a female mentor. You heard extracts from: Dances in the Canebrakes by Florence Price, performed by the Chicago Sinfonietta conducted by Mei-Ann Chen, which will be included on a new CD released in March 2019 on Cedille Records. The second movement of Dvorak's Ninth Symphony in E Minor "From the New World" performed by the Chineke! Orchestra, conducted by Kevin John Edusei. Available on Hyperion Records. (L) Image and credit: Mei-Ann Chen (R) Image: Chi-chi Nwanoku (credit: Eric Richmond)
Dec 10, 2018
Disabled Women Challenging Stereotypes
Nelufar Hedayat unites two women with disabilities from Toronto and Mumbai, who are challenging misconceptions about their sexuality and what they’re capable of achieving. Maayan Ziv is a fashion photographer and entrepreneur from Toronto, Canada. She uses a wheelchair and became frustrated with the lack of information about accessibility of venues in her city. Having discovered early on that technology can alter the day to day life of disabled people all over the globe, she decided to develop an app. It is called AccessNow and uses crowd-sourcing technology to create an accessible map of a city. It's now operational in 35 countries around the world. Nidhi Goyal is an activist and comedian from Mumbai. At the age of 14 she began to lose her sight, which she maintains allowed her to ‘see more clearly’ the barriers that disabled people face. She is India’s first female disabled stand-up comedian, using humour to challenge the way people think about dating with disability and sexuality. She founded the non-profit Rising Flame which advocates for women with disabilities, and delivers disability and inclusion training to companies across India. Produced by Katie Pennick for BBC World Service. Image: (L) Nidhi Goyal Credit: Sahil Kotwani (R) Maayan Ziv
Dec 03, 2018
Wrongfully Convicted Women
Take your baby into prison or leave them behind? Kim Chakanetsa speaks to two women from Kenya and the US faced with that reality when their lives were up-ended by their wrongful imprisonment. They talk about how they found a purpose while serving time, and have since gone on to support others. Sunny Jacobs was sentenced to death for her role in an alleged double murder in the US in 1976. Separated from her two children, she served five years in solitary confinement - and was only finally released on appeal in 1992, after 17 years behind bars. Sunny met and married another man who had served time on death row. They have set up a sanctuary at their home in Ireland, for others who have been wrongfully incarcerated. Teresa Njoroge served time in Kenya for a financial crime she didn't commit. When her sentence began, she chose to take her three-month old baby into prison with her. Sharing a cell with 50 to 60 other inmates, she was shocked by the plight of the women she met and the revolving door of crime and poverty. After her release - and exoneration - she set up Clean Start Kenya, an organisation that empowers female inmates to better prepare for reintegration into society. Left: Sunny Jacobs (credit: Alexander Duyck) Right: Teresa Njoroge (credit: Titus Kimutai)
Nov 26, 2018
Beauty Pageants: What's in them for Women?
Gowns, glittery bikinis and a lot of hair spray: thousands of women around the world wear them on stage every year, hoping to win a beauty pageant. Many say these pageants are demeaning and outdated but others argue that beauty pageants can be life changing experiences that help contestants to go on to academic and professional success. Kim Chakanetsa brings together two beauty queens to find out what's in it for women? Dee-Ann Kentish-Rogers is an Anguillan-British barrister and former athlete who is the first black woman to represent Great Britain at a Miss Universe pageant. She says that since winning her title this year many women of colour have reached out to congratulate her for representing black female beauty. She says that she entered pageantry for self-development and hopes that future competitions will change their requirements to allow single mothers to compete. Jamie Herrell is a Filipino-American business entrepreneur who won Miss Earth for the Philippines in 2014. Initially she thought pageants were degrading for women but entered to earn some extra money when her father became unwell. She says there are many different sides to pageantry and many different reasons why women compete. Since winning she has launched an eco flip-flop business to help tourism in the Philippines. Producer: Sarah Kendal Image: (L) Jamie Herrell Credit: Euguene Herrera (R) Dee-Ann Kentish-Rogers Credit: Kev Wise
Nov 19, 2018
A Dangerous Place To Be A Woman
The most extreme hate crime against women is femicide, the act of killing a person because they are a woman. But there is a growing movement of women who are taking a stand against this crime and demanding that their community takes it seriously. Nelufar Hedayat talks to two activists from countries where the death toll for women through violence is high: Mexico and Pakistan. Khalida Brohi grew up in Pakistan and saw her family being torn apart when her cousin Khadija was strangled to death with their uncle suspected of having killed her. This spurred Khalida on to fight against so-called honour killings. She says the problem with so-called honour killings is that people merge religion with tradition and are ignorant of what the Quran actually says about respecting women. She decided to work with tribal leaders to change attitudes. Through her organisation Sughar, Khalida gives women practical skills, empowering them economically and giving them confidence. She has written a book about her experiences called I Should Have Honour. Andrea Narno Hijar is a graphic artist and activist in Mexico, where the UN estimated in 2016 that 7 women a day are being murdered. Using her skills as a graphic artist, Andrea is trying to draw attention to this, even though she says it's something most Mexicans don't want to talk about. She says as a woman living in Mexico she faces harassment and violence everyday. She designs posters and puts them up around Mexico City to raise awareness about femicide and to challenge machismo in her culture. Image and credit: (L) Andrea Narno Hijar and (R) Khalida Brohi
Nov 12, 2018
Campaigners for Gay Women's Rights
Campaigning for gay rights in Uganda and Sri Lanka - Kim Chakanetsa speaks to two women activists in countries where homosexual acts are punishable with a prison sentence. Kasha Nabagesera has been described as 'the face of Uganda's LGBT movement'. Since her twenties Kasha has fought for the rights of her fellow lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, which has brought her into conflict with the authorities. She says she faces daily harassment and serious threats, and doesn't walk the streets alone for fear of attack, but it's worth it. Kasha now runs Kuchu Times, a multi-media platform for the sexual health and rights of queer Africans. In Sri Lanka, consensual sex between women was only criminalised in 1995. Rosanna Flamer-Caldera is an activist who returned to Sri Lanka after living in San Francisco and founded an organisation called Equal Ground, which educates and lobbies on behalf of LBGT+ people. She says as a lesbian she has to be hyper-vigilant at all times, and can't really have a personal life. Rosanna wants to achieve decriminalisation of homosexuality in her country by 2020. Image: (L) Rosanna Flamer-Caldera (R) Kasha Jaqueline Nabagesera Credit: Christine Dierenbach
Nov 05, 2018
Women demanding equality in sport
Is women's sport still not taken as seriously as men's? What needs to happen to achieve the same pay, prize money and media coverage as their male counterparts?  Presenter Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women about how they have fought to get equality with men in their chosen sport.   Kathryn Bertine was a professional cyclist in the US for five years. She was shocked to discover that the average earnings of a professional female cyclist are well below the poverty line.  She was so outraged that she lobbied successfully for a women's version of the Tour de France. But Kathryn believes that this new race is 'tokenism' because it lasts for only one day. Kathryn has gone on to co-found Homestretch Foundation, a charity to support female cyclists financially as they train for events and compete.  Hajra Khan is the Captain of the Pakistan women's national football team but says they are given less priority than the men. When she first got into football she says sportswomen were looked down on in her country. Although attitudes are slowly changing she says that there is still a huge wage gap and her club has had to train on local cricket grounds. Hajra is organising a match in Pakistan with female players from around the world to raise awareness and to get better opportunities for female footballers. Produced by Sarah Kendal Image: (L) Hajra Khan. Credit: Huma Akram (R) Kathryn Bertine. Credit: Tracy L. Chandler
Oct 29, 2018
The changing face of women in music videos
Traditionally made by men and often criticised for sexism and colourism, Kim Chakanetsa asks two top female directors if the portrayal - and the power - of women in music videos is now changing. Kemi Adetiba is the only high-profile female video director on Nigeria's thriving music scene, working with artists such as Tiwa Savage, Wizkid and Falz. Now branching out into feature films, she still directs videos on request. She says she wants young girls to know that she is competing in a male-dominated field, and succeeding. Kinga Burza is an Australian director who made the video for Katy Perry's controversial debut single I Kissed a Girl a decade ago, and has worked with a slew of successful young female artists since, including Lana del Rey, Aurora and Dua Lipa. She says more women are now getting into the business but she was in a tiny minority when she started out. Producer: Sarah Crawley (L) Image: Kemi Adetiba. Credit: J. Countess/WireImage/Getty Images (R) Image & credit: Kinga Burza
Oct 22, 2018
#MeToo: Two women's stories beyond Hollywood
One year ago a #MeToo tweet by Hollywood actor Alyssa Milano encouraged an outpouring of women using the hashtag to talk about experiences of sexual harassment or assault. What followed were allegations against high profile figures in entertainment, the media and politics with many of the accused denying any wrongdoing. Kim Chakanetsa brings together two women who have made public allegations of sexual abuse in countries where that's highly unusual, to find out if the ripples of #MeToo are being felt beyond Hollywood and the West? Tatia Samkharadze is a Georgian TV journalist and actor who successfully sued her former boss, Shalva Ramishvili, for discrimination after her claim of sexual harassment in January 2018. It was viewed as a landmark case because there is currently no law against sexual harassment in Georgia. Shalva was ordered to pay her nearly 800 US dollars in moral damages, though he denied the claim and is appealing the ruling. Since Tatia made her allegations, she says people have told her that his behaviour wasn't a problem or that it was her fault, and she has been bullied online. She says because she spoke out she has been unable to find work as a journalist. She believes Me Too was a blessing for her and her case. She now campaigns for women's rights. Shiori Ito is a Japanese freelance journalist. In April 2015, she alleged that she had been raped by Noriyuki Yamaguchi, a high-profile Japanese journalist, at a Tokyo Hotel. He strongly denies the allegations and after a lengthy investigation, prosecutors dropped the case against him, citing insufficient evidence. In May 2017, Shiori took the unusual move of going public with her claims to try to change how Japan treats allegations of sexual assault, legally and socially. Shiori says after she went public she received many threats and even had to leave her home in a disguise. She says the Me Too movement is slowly helping to shift attitudes towards sexual abuse in Japan. L: Shiori Ito (credit: Hanna Aqvilin) R: Tatia Samkharadze (credit: Ekaterine Kadagishvili) Produced by Sarah Kendal
Oct 15, 2018
Women Bossing the Beauty Business
Does the beauty industry fuel insecurity and undermine a woman's choice to look how she wants? Kim Chakanetsa brings together two beauty entrepreneurs from Singapore and the UK who say they have lifted women up. Sharmadean Reid is a British Jamaican entrepreneur who founded WAH Nails, which she believes changed the beauty landscape with its millennial voice, feminist attitude and innovative salon space. Sharmadean went on to create FutureGirlCorp, workshops aimed at young businesswomen, and has now launched Beauty Stack. She says the beauty industry is perceived as women’s work and is therefore undervalued. Pauline Ng is a Singaporean entrepreneur who founded a skincare spa business in 2009 with her mum. Porcelain has grown into an award-winning beauty chain with four spas, a staff of 60, and a line of popular skincare products. Pauline says that in Singapore there are a lot of opportunities for women in the beauty industry, even if the big multinational beauty companies are still mainly run by men. (L) Image and credit: Pauline Ng (R) Image and credit: Sharmadean Reid Producer: Sarah Crawley
Oct 08, 2018
Fighting For Women's Health
How do you improve women's access to good healthcare? Two female doctors talk to Kim Chakanetsa about the issues they face in two starkly different places - Somalia and the United States. Paula Johnson is an American cardiologist who has dedicated her whole career to thinking about health from a woman's perspective, focussing on the different ways men and women respond to diseases. When Paula learnt that medical research and trials traditionally were only tested on men, she decided she had to fight for the inclusion of women. Paula believes the lack of testing on women, combined with sex differences, can lead to women not receiving effective diagnosis and treatment. Paula thinks that we should be focusing on women's health and well-being as central to women's equality. Deqo Mohamed is a Somali doctor who helps run a 400-bed hospital in a refugee camp west of Mogadishu. It was her mother, the pioneering doctor Hawa Abdi, who opened a small clinic in the 1980s, which became a shelter for thousands of displaced people, the majority of them women and children. Today Deqo oversees a hospital, primary school and women’s education centre. She says she prioritises women's health because her female patients are often singly caring for their whole family. Deqo believes her gender helps her to connect with her female patients and negotiate with warlords. L: Dr Deqo Mohamed (credit: Vital Voices Global Partnership) R: Dr Paula Johnson (credit: Wellesley College)
Oct 01, 2018
Women Defying Bans in Iran and Saudi Arabia
What is it like to put yourself in danger fighting for your rights as a woman? Kim Chakanetsa unites two women from Iran and Saudi Arabia, who decided to defy their governments' discriminatory laws - and suffered huge personal sacrifices as a result. In Iran women must cover their hair in public, according to the dress rule enforced after the Revolution in 1979. Masih Alinejad says she began to defy this compulsory wearing of the hijab as a teenager and continued to question it from within Iran until it became too dangerous for her to stay. In 2014, Masih posted a picture of herself uncovered online and the My Stealthy Freedom movement began, encouraging ordinary Iranian women to share photos of themselves without the headscarf. Now living in the US, Masih says she suffers abuse, death threats and hasn't seen her parents for nine years, but the truly brave ones are the women in Iran who risk arrest defying this discriminatory law. Masih's book is The Wind in My Hair - My Fight for Freedom in Modern Iran. Manal al-Sharif's rebellion began when she got behind the wheel of a car in Saudi Arabia in 2011. Whilst there was no formal ban, it was not legal for women to drive at that time. Manal was driving her own car but was arrested and imprisoned. After her release she continued the campaign she had co-founded #Women2Drive, which led to the loss of her job and eventually leaving the country. On June 24th 2018, the ban on women driving in Saudi was lifted. However women's rights activists continue to be arrested and Manal, who now lives in Australia, says she no longer feels safe to go back. This means she cannot see her elder son who is not allowed to leave the country to visit her. Manal's memoir is Daring to Drive - The Young Saudi Woman Who Stood up to a Kingdom of Men. Image: (L) Manal al-Sharif. Credit: Manal al-Sharif (R) Masih Alinejad. Credit: Kambiz Foroohar
Sep 24, 2018
The women plumbers changing the trade
Two female plumbers on what puts women off from entering the industry, the messy reality of the job and the joy of solving problems with your hands. Judaline Cassidy has worked on the pipes of some of New York City's most iconic buildings in a career that has spanned two decades. She grew up in Trinidad & Tobago and came to plumbing because she didn't have enough money to go to law school. But she fell in love with the profession and has become a passionate advocate for women in trades. Judaline is also the founder of Tools & Tiaras, an organisation which runs workshops and summer camps to encourage young girls to take up careers in the construction industry. Hattie Hasan has been a plumber for more than 25 years. When she decided to train as a plumber, she was the only female student in her entire college. Later, she couldn't find a job - no one would take her on - so she set up on her own company in the North of England. She also started a network of female plumbers in the UK that has since become a franchise business, trading under the name Stopcocks. She says she still regularly comes across stories of sexist behaviour, which put a lot of women off from entering the industry, but she hopes that things are changing. Produced by Joanna Impey for BBC World Service. (Image: (L) Judaline Cassidy. Credit: Jena Cumbo; (R) Hattie Hasan. Credit: Nicola Tree)
Sep 17, 2018
Women winning the Nobel Prize for Medicine
Just 12 women have won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine since it was founded in 1901. Kim Chakanetsa brings together two of these female Nobel Laureates - both extraordinary scientists from Norway and France. Professor May-Britt Moser won the prize in 2014 for the discovery of a type of cell in the brains of rats, which helps them locate their position in space.  She won the prize jointly with her former husband Edvard, with whom she had collaborated since they were students. Now divorced, they still run a world-renowned neuroscience lab - the Kavli Institute - together in the far north of Norway, where they are pursuing research that could further our understanding and treatment of Alzheimer's in humans. Professor Françoise Barré-Sinoussi was a researcher at the Institut Pasteur in Paris in the early 1980s when a new and terrifying disease emerged - AIDS. She and her colleague very quickly identified the HIV retrovirus as the cause, and set about finding a treatment. In 2008 she was recognised by the Nobel committee for this achievement, and she says this has opened doors for her work that otherwise would have remained closed - enabling her to better advocate on behalf of the vulnerable people most affected by HIV-AIDS. Image: (L) Francoise Barré-Sinoussi. Credit: Institut Pasteur (R) May-Britt Moser. Credit: TiTT Melhuus
Sep 10, 2018
Female Computer Pioneers
The lost role of women in the development of the computer industry is brought into focus by an internet pioneer and a computer historian. Radia Perlman is an American computer programmer often described as the 'Mother of the Internet' for her invention of the spanning-tree protocol, an algorithm which allowed early networks to cope with large amounts of data. She describes it as a 'simple hack' and it is still in use today. Tilly Blyth is Head of Collections and Principal Curator at the Science Museum. She specialises in the history of computing and is particularly interested in the lost role women played within that history. She has curated an exhibition on Ada Lovelace, a 19th century trailblazer of science. Image: (L) Tilly Blyth and (R) Radia Perlman Credit: (L) Science Museum Group Collection and (R) Andrew Tanenbaum
Sep 03, 2018
Young African Authors
Two award-winning African writers sit down with Kim Chakanetsa to talk race, gender and getting published in your early 20s. Nigerian author Chibundu Onuzo started writing her first book aged 17, became the youngest woman ever to sign to her publishing house at 19, and released her first novel, The Spider King’s Daughter, at the age of 21. Chibundu is based in London and her second book is called Welcome to Lagos. Panashe Chigumadzi is a Zimbabwean-born novelist and essayist. Raised in South Africa, she is the author of a novel Sweet Medicine and These Bones Will Rise Again in which she examines Zimbabwean history through the lives of her grandmothers. (L) Panashe Chigumadzi (credit: Jodi Bieber) (R ) Chibundu Onuzo (credit: Blayke Images)
Aug 27, 2018
Ending Child Marriage
Is it possible to end child marriage in a generation? Kim Chakanetsa brings together two women working to make it a thing of the past in Malawi and in the United States. Memory Banda's sister was just 11 when she was forced to marry the man who'd made her pregnant. Determined not to have the same fate, Memory persuaded local leaders in Malawi to change their minds about this cultural practise and then - still a teenager - she successfully campaigned for the government to raise the marriage age to 18 across the country in 2015. Memory says that she faced a big backlash but she felt she had to speak out when she saw how traumatic the practice was for girls in her community. Trevicia Williams came out of school one day and was told by her mother that she was going to be married. Trevicia was 14. Her prospective husband - whom she hardly knew - was 26. It took her three years to escape the marriage. Trevicia says education was her key to surviving the experience. Now a doctor of psychology, she empowers individuals and families to build strong healthy relationships and prevent social issues like child marriage. Trevicia's testimony was key to her state of Texas changing the law to outlaw marriage under the age of 18, in 2017. (L) Dr Trevicia Williams (credit: Trevicia Williams) (R ) Memory Banda (credit: Bensam)
Aug 20, 2018
Crowning The Queens
Can hats be liberating for women? Nelufar Hedayat brings together a hatmaker to the British Queen and a turban designer to Beyoncé. Rachel Trevor-Morgan is a London based milliner who has been making hats for the Queen for over a decade. As well as royalty she also sells to top fashion retailers, and thinks it's a shame that we don’t wear hats as much as we used to. Rachel is not trying to push the boundaries of fashion with her hats - she says her mission is to make her clients look classically feminine and glamorous. Donia Allegue Walbaum is a French luxury fashion designer whose turbans have been commissioned by Beyoncé, including for the video for her latest single. She's aiming to reinvent this age-old headpiece in a modern way, and says it's the ultimate accessory. Many of her clients also wear them to cover their heads for religious reasons, or even in the case of illness. Image: Turban designer Donia Allegue Walbaum and milliner Rachel Trevor-Morgan donning their designs (L) Donia Allegue Walbaum. Credit: Laurent Mauger (R) Rachel Trevor-Morgan. Credit: Catherine Harbour
Aug 13, 2018
Women in Translation
Can translating a book be a feminist act? Kim Chakanetsa brings together two female translators from Egypt and the UK who explain why it matters that more women, and particularly more feminists, are translating texts into Arabic and English. Emily Wilson is the first woman to translate Homer's The Odyssey into English. She says she often found sexist language in previous translations by men which did not actually exist in the original ancient Greek. She believes that all translators have an agenda, but calling a translation feminist can marginalise it. Emily is currently Professor of Classics at the University of Pennsylvania. Hala Kamal is a Professor of English and Gender Studies at Cairo University. She teaches on the topic of 'feminist translation' and translates classic feminist texts into Arabic so that students who cannot speak English can still access feminist theory. She thinks feminist voices have been lost and neglected, so she considers translating feminist writers as a form of activism. (L) Hala Kamal (credit: Sharif Sidahmed) (R) Emily Wilson (credit: Kyle Cassidy)
Aug 06, 2018
Banishing body shame
Body shaming is discrimination against 'non-perfect' bodies and it is usually directed at women. Kim Chakanetsa sits down with a Danish comedian and a British blogger who are challenging society's perceptions of a beautiful female body. Chidera Eggerue - aka The Slumflower - is a British blogger whose hashtag #saggyboobsmatter started an online movement, empowering women who were considering plastic surgery and breast-feeding mothers to love their breasts. Through her public profile, she tackles the absence of positive representation of black women's bodies, bullying and insecurity. Sofie Hagen is an award-winning Danish comedian and fat activist. As a chubby child, she was forced to go on diets, which she says led to her hating her body and was detrimental to her mental health. At university Sofie met a fat activist who changed her life. She then co-started a campaigning group in Denmark, Fedfront, and talks a lot about fatness in her comedy. She says that on a good day she will only receive 100 death threats because of her weight and gender. Image: (L): Chidera Eggerue. Credit: Tom Oldham Image: (R): Sofie Hagen. Credit: Karla Gowlett
Jul 30, 2018
Star Chefs
The professional kitchen is often seen as a place where bravado, machismo and sexism are standard. Kim Chakanestsa brings together two top female chefs to ask why there are so few women in the industry - and what if anything is holding women back? Dominique Crenn is a French chef living and working in San Francisco. She has two Michelin stars at her restaurant 'Atelier Crenn' - the first woman in North America to do so. In 2017 she also won the Best Female Chef in the World award - although she called the very idea of the accolade 'stupid' and questioned whether it was really the best way to promote women in the industry. In her own kitchen Dominique aims to support women by creating an environment in which people feel secure and where bullying is not tolerated. Skye Gyngell won a Michelin Star unexpectedly, when she was running a garden centre café in leafy south-west London. But she says the honour was a mixed blessing and meant customers turned up with unrealistic expectations. She's now moved on to start her own restaurant called Spring. Skye was classically trained as a chef in France, before working in fine-dining restaurants in London. She says her early experiences of the professional kitchen were sexist and terrifying, but that she loves cooking and hopes that by promoting more women the industry will change. Image: (L) Dominique Crenn by Matt Edge (R) Skye Gyngell by Carol Sachs
Jul 23, 2018
Female Financiers
Can financial markets transform women's lives? Kim Chakanetsa unites two financiers from Nigeria and Bangladesh who are trying to increase wealth for women in very different ways. Durreen Shahnaz was one of the first Bangladeshi women on Wall Street, and later founded Singapore-based Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) through which she set up the world's first social stock exchange. She recently launched a Women's Livelihood Bond, which will impact the lives of over 385,000 women across Southeast Asia. Durreen says she was advised along the way to change the name of the bond so it didn't include the word 'women'. She refused, poured her last savings into it, and was elated when it became over-subscribed. When Arunma Oteh was head of Nigeria's Securities and Exchange Commission she took many powerful men to task over corruption and fraud, and faced a gendered backlash. She says people didn't like that the new Sheriff in town was a woman, but the public came to respect her results. Arunma is now Vice-President and Treasurer at the World Bank, where she convinces the private sector to invest in emerging economies. She says women are the real new emerging market, and if they earned as much as men, $160 trillion could be added to global wealth. (L) Arunma Oteh (credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for RFK Human Rights) (R) Durreen Shahnaz (credit: TED)
Jul 16, 2018
Mothers Fighting for Clean Water
Their children became sick, and they wanted to know why. Nelufar Hedayat brings together two women who identified toxic water supplies that were poisoning their children and their communities. Phyllis Omido is a Kenyan activist who won the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015. Phyllis was working for a smelting factory in Mombasa, when she found out that her breast milk was giving her baby lead poisoning. She then discovered that the toxic waste had entered the local water supply and was affecting the health and lives of 3000 people living nearby. She fought for the closure of the factory and is now suing for compensation for the villages. LeeAnne Walters led a grassroots citizens' movement in Flint, Michigan in the US and exposed a water crisis. She wanted to know why her twins had a rash and hair loss and why their water had turned brown. LeeAnne started gathering evidence and proved that since the water supply had been changed, rates of lead poisoning had increased. She also won the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2018 for her campaign that convinced the state to stop using unsafe water. (L) LeeAnne Walters (credit: Michael Gleason Photography/Goldman Environmental Prize) (R) Phyllis Omido (credit: Phyllis Omido)
Jul 09, 2018
Chess Grandmasters
What does it take for a woman to excel in the ruthlessly competitive, male-dominated world of chess? Kim Chakanetsa meets two outstanding female players from Hungary and China to find out. Judit Polgar is the strongest female chess player of all time. As a child prodigy she broke Bobby Fischer's record to become the youngest grandmaster, aged 15. She went on to beat the World No 1 Garry Kasparov, after he had said women shouldn't play chess. Judit says she made a decision very early not to play in the Women's competition, because she wanted to play the best, and they were men. She remains the only woman ever to place in the top 10 players in the world, despite retiring 4 years ago. Hou Yifan is widely considered to be the best woman playing chess today. She has been the Women's World Chess Champion three times, the youngest ever to win the title, as well as the youngest female player ever to qualify for the title of grandmaster. Yifan has now decided not to play in the Women's Championship anymore. She took time out of competing to study for a degree and is about to do a Masters at Oxford University, because she believes doing other things is beneficial to her and to her chess. Image: (L) Hou Yifan. Credit: Getty Images Image: (R) Judit Polgar. Credit: Timea Jaksa
Jul 02, 2018
Art Dealers
In the art world, how much power do women hold? In 2017, of the top 100 artists whose work fetched the highest amount at auction, just 13 were women. Two female art-dealers who have pioneered Czech and Asian art on the international scene, discuss how that affects the way they value and sell art made by women. Pearl Lam is an iconic art dealer and a pioneer in raising the profile of Chinese art. She is the founder of Pearl Lam Galleries which operate in Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong. She is considered a powerhouse within Asia's contemporary art scene and says that although it is all about the art, not the artist, she has become aware of issues with gender and diversity. Katherine (Kacha) Kastner co-founded the gallery Hunt Kastner in Prague in 2005 at a time when there was no established tradition of commercial galleries in the Czech Republic. The goal was to offer a more professional representation of Czech artists both locally and internationally. She says that though she would never choose an artist based on their gender, she is trying to do more to promote female artists. Left: Katherine Kastner (credit: Jiri Thyn) Right: Pearl Lam (credit: William Louey)
Jun 25, 2018
Social media influencers
We meet two women who earn a six-figure salary by sharing their lives, fashion tips and their most personal moments on social media. Kim Chakanetsa delves into this digital world of influencers and finds out how to be successful in marketing online. French-Cameroonian Freddie Harrel left her career in banking to start a fashion blog. She also writes about her own personal struggles and hopes to inspire other women to embrace their natural selves. Anum Bashir from Qatar blogs under the persona 'Desert Mannequin' and wants to challenge the pursuit of perfection and the popularity of cosmetic surgery in the Middle East. Image: (L) Freddie Harrel Credit: Tom Harrel Image and credit: (R) Anum Bashir
Jun 18, 2018
Tackling the Gender Pay Gap
Why do women earn less than men across the world, and what can be done to narrow this gender pay gap? Two experts from Italy and Kenya give their ideas on how to make the workplace more equal and pay women what they are worth. Paola Diana (@paoladiana_) is the founder of PariMerito or Equal Merit, an organisation through which she lobbied the Italian government to pass new equality laws in the workplace, including one requiring company boards to have at least 30% women. Paola started her own businesses as a single mother of two, and believes real change will only come from all nations having more women at the top of politics, business and industry. She is also the author of 'Saving The World - Women: The Twenty First Century's Factor for Change'. Dr Njoki Ngumi (@njokingumi) is a writer, physician and feminist thinker who has held positions in private and public health care sectors in Kenya. She is now coordinating learning and development for the NEST Collective, a Kenyan multidisciplinary artistic squad. She also works at HEVA Fund, Africa's first creative economy catalyst fund. In her experience, official gender gap statistics fail to reflect the reality of most women's work in Kenya, which tends to be informal, and in low wage manual jobs. Thus she says the biggest change would come from improving pay and conditions for domestic workers. (L) Image and credit: Paola Diana (R) Image and credit: Dr Njoki Ngumi
Jun 11, 2018
Head Gardeners
Planting, pruning and giving the orders - Kim Chakanetsa meets two female head gardeners who are challenging the idea that gardening is a hobby for women but a career for men. Sharon Cooke runs Andromeda Botanic Gardens in Barbados, the only Royal Horticulture Society Partner Garden in the West Indies. The garden was created in the 1950s by award-winning horticulturist Iris Bannochie. After Iris died, the garden fell into decline, but Sharon is now restoring it to its former glory. Sharon says that when people ask to meet the Head Gardener, they usually expect a man, and are surprised to see that she is in charge. Sandra Pella has been the Head Gardener at the public Toronto Botanical Garden in Canada since 2008. Sandra is self-taught, but came from a family of green-fingered farmers. She quit her job at a bank and made the change from gardening as a hobby, to gardening as a profession. She says that because of her gender, people sometimes don't believe she is strong enough to use a wheelbarrow or climb a ladder. (L) Image: Sandra Pella. Credit: Paul Zammit (R) Image and credit: Sharon Cooke
Jun 04, 2018
Winter athletes
Women making history on the snow and ice. Kim Chakanetsa meets two female athletes who are pioneers in their winter sports. Simidele Adeagbo is a Nigerian who is the first African woman to compete in the skeleton category of the Winter Olympics. Originally a track and field athlete, she set out to break barriers in winter sports but was faced with the challenge of no snow or tracks to practise on. The first time she touched a skeleton sled was in 2017, but she qualified for the Pyeongchang Games earlier this year. Lindsey Marie Van is a veteran of women's ski jumping, and was instrumental in fighting for its inclusion in the Olympics. Lindsey campaigned and was part of a gender discrimination lawsuit. After 90 years of male ski jumping, one competition was finally added for women at the 2014 Sochi games (men have three chances to compete). After this huge victory, Lindsey's recurrent knee injury forced her to retire. The Utah athlete was, however, a 16-time national champion and the 2009 world champion. (L) Lindsey Van (credit: Lars Baron/Getty Images) (R) Simidele Adeagbo (credit: Candice Ward)
May 28, 2018
Academics in Exile
Explosions in classrooms and a commute threatened by bombs and bullets - academics from Yemen and Syria who found themselves working through a civil war. Kim Chakanetsa brings together two women who are passionate about educating their country's next generation, but were forced to leave them behind when they fled to safety in Europe. They discuss why they had to make that painful decision, and how they are continuing their work in exile. Dr Fathiah Zakham is an award winning Yemeni microbiologist whose research focuses on drug-resistant tuberculosis. She was based at Hodeidah University, a port city in Yemen that came under rebel control in 2015. Despite her institution being destroyed by an air attack, Fathiah stayed in Yemen and even won a global award for female researchers. But eventually the situation became impossible and she left for Switzerland in 2017. She is now doing post-doctoral work at the University Hospital of Lausanne. Reem Doukmak is a Syrian linguist and was working at Al Baath University in Homs, a city at the heart of the uprising against the government in 2011. Homs has been under siege for much of the time since. Reem endured two years living in a war zone before managing to leave Syria with the help of a charity. Reem is now continuing her studies at Warwick University in the UK and she also volunteers as a translator for other refugees. (L) Image and credit: Reem Doukmak (R) Image and credit : Fathiah Zakham
May 21, 2018
Travelling alone while female - what's the reality? Kim Chakanetsa brings together two wanderlust women who won't let sexism stop them from adventuring into different cities, countries and hemispheres. Meruschka Govender is a travel activist, and experience seeker from South Africa. She regularly backpacks around the continent, but says she always felt that there was a local voice missing in African travel writing, so she began her blog Mzansi Girl. When Meruschka first started travelling solo, as a woman of colour she was seen as unusual, but she says things are now changing. Atikah Amalina is a Singaporean traveller who writes the popular blog The Tudung Traveller. In an age of travel bans and Islamophobia, Atikah travels solo in a hijab, encountering sexism and racism as a Muslim woman, but also friendship and generosity. She says that she tries to be a bridge to a better understanding of Islam for the people she encounters. Image: Atikah Amalina (L) and Meruschka Govender (R), female solo World travellers. Credit: Meruschka Govender c/o Daréll Lourens. Composite: BBC
May 14, 2018
The million dollar teachers
What does it take to be the world’s best teacher and win a million dollars at the same time? We meet two women who have won the Global Teacher Prize for transforming the lives of their students. Andria Zafirakou is deputy headteacher at a community school in a deprived part of London which has one of the highest murder rates in the UK. Violent gangs often try to recruit the children at the school gates. But Andria is determined to give her students the best possible start in life. Maggie Macdonnell teaches at a school in a small and remote Inuit village in northern Quebec on the Arctic circle. It's an isolated place and there are few jobs for the young. Maggie has made it her mission to do something about the shocking levels and drug abuse and suicide amongst teenagers. Main image: (L) Maggie Macdonnell (image credit: The Varkey Foundation) and (R) Andria Zafirakou (image credit: The Varkey Foundation)
May 07, 2018
Women in podcasting: The Guilty Feminist and Not Your African Cliché
Feminism! Freedom! Identity! When it comes to frank discussions, podcasts by and for women are leading the way in creating communities where nothing is off limits. Kim Chakanetsa brings together two women who are seizing the mic and recording their own stories and conversations. Their podcasts are all about challenging assumptions about gender, race and sexuality and building armies of like-minded individuals. Deborah Frances-White is an Australian comedian and the host of The Guilty Feminist, a podcast which tackles the feeling of not always being a good enough feminist with a dose of humour. Each episode features guests discussing a feminist topic in front of a live audience. Deborah has recorded the show around the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark and the US. She says podcasts are a micro-climate where women do well because the audience want them to. In just over two years, her podcast has been downloaded three million times. Ifeyinwa Arinze is a Nigerian neuroscientist and one of the four co-hosts of the podcast Not Your African Cliché. She and her friends Ifeoluwa Olokode, Onyeka Ononye and Amayo Bassey were spurred on to make the podcast after hearing ignorant comments about Africa when they travelled to the U.S. for college. They are on a mission to tell diverse stories of Africans, and invite guests from different African countries to discuss literature, travel and politics with healthy servings of laughter and critical analysis. Ifeyinwa says her podcast is creating a voice for African migrant millennials across the globe. (L) Deborah Frances-White (credit: Linda Kupo) (R) Ifeyinwa Arinze (credit: Mohini Ufeli)
Apr 30, 2018
Feminist Publishers
Promoting women's writing around the world - Kim Chakanetsa brings together the heads of pioneering feminist publishing houses in Australia and India, and asks how they stay relevant in an age of self-publishing and e-books? Susan Hawthorne runs Spinifex Press in Queensland. She and her partner Renate Klein set it up in 1991 as a response to what they saw as a dearth of diversity in Australian publishing. She says that despite the proliferation of online platforms for writers to publish their work in recent years, they still find they need a real publisher to select, edit and promote them. Susan finds her books in a variety of ways, but is frustrated by the mainstream publishing sector's focus on 'star authors'. Susan is also a writer and her new novel Dark Matters is about a lesbian who is tortured. Urvashi Butalia co-founded India's first exclusively feminist publishing house in 1984, and now runs Zubaan books based in New Delhi. Her aim is to reflect the experiences of marginalised women and she says she is also seeing a resurgence of interest from young women - and young men - in the history of the women's movement in India. Urvashi is an award-winning author herself, whose best known book is The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India. Image and credit: (L) Urvashi Butalia. Image: (R) Susan Hawthorne. Credit: Naomi McKescher
Apr 23, 2018
Two women re-define what it means to be a bread-maker. While women and baking have always been closely associated with each other, the billion dollar industry is actually dominated by men. This week, two young women speak to Kim Chakanetsa about becoming the face of bread-making, taking on the family business, and the sacrifices it takes to make the perfect loaf. Apollonia Poîlane's grandfather opened Poîlane bakery in Paris in 1932, and his son Lionel took over the business in 1970. Lionel turned it into one of France's most famous bakeries. However in 2002 he and his wife were killed in a helicopter crash, and his 18 year old daughter, Apollonia, took over the family business. She has turned Poilâne into a multi-million dollar international brand and says her father's friends and baking team helped her become the CEO she is today. Maya Rohr is a young American baker currently doing an apprenticeship with a Swedish chocolatier. 25 years ago Maya's mother opened a bakery in their hometown of Homer, Alaska, just a few days after Maya was born. Maya is in the process of deciding whether she wants to carry on the family business, Two Sisters Bakery, or pursue her own path. The bakery is more than just a company for Maya - she says it's a vital part of her small community. Image: (L) Apollonia Poilâne (Credit: Helene Saglio) and (R) Maya Rohr (Credit: Brianna Lee)
Apr 16, 2018
Professional Gamers
Professional female gamers excelling in a male-dominated environment. Emily Webb unites one of the UK's most successful live streamers, and a champion e-sports player from Canada to discuss their gaming highs, lows and strategies for dealing with trolls. Leahviathan has amassed almost 150,000 followers on the gaming website Twitch, streaming footage of herself playing video games such as Destiny 2 and Overwatch. Leah plays for six hours at a time, and makes her living from people subscribing to her channel and giving her tips. She says despite having a lot of support online, there are also people trying to bring you down just for being a woman, but she finds ignoring them is usually the best strategy. Stephanie Harvey - or missharvey as she's known in the gaming world - plays the game CounterStrike in front of thousands of fans at huge arena events, and has played in female teams that have won major international e-sports competitions six times. Stephanie also co-founded the website in reaction to what she saw as a lack of support and promotion for women in gaming. She says the situation has improved a lot in the last five years, and she now takes a different approach to trolls, persuading them to be better people, which actually works. Image and credit: (L) Stephanie Harvey Image and credit: (R) Leahviathan
Apr 09, 2018
Women Leading Muslim Communities
Women who are acting as religious leaders in two Muslim communities in Europe. As women doing this is highly unusual, and is not accepted by most Muslim scholars and believers, Kim Chakanetsa asks them how they have been received and why it's so important to them. Sherin Khankan set up the feminist Mariam Mosque in Copenhagen in 2016. She calls herself a 'female imam' and she hopes to revolutionise thinking about the role of women in Islam, and offer an alternative to the traditional patriarchal structures within the religion. Though her mosque is controversial and not recognised by many within mainstream Islam, she says she has only received threats from the Danish far-right and not from fellow Muslims. Halima Krausen became Germany's first 'female imam' in 2013. She took over the running of the Hamburg Islamic Centre having stood in for a male imam on an informal basis for many years. She is currently focussing on her academic career at the Academy of World Religions at the University of Hamburg. She says more than anything else the role of imam is about being a counsellor. Left: Halima Krausen (credit: Jenny Schaefer) Right: Sherin Khankan (credit: Manyar Parwani)
Apr 02, 2018
Fighting fires and stereotypes at the same time - Kim Chakanetsa speaks to two senior fire women in India and the UK. Dany Cotton joined the London Fire Brigade at 18, just a few years after it opened up to women. She has worked her way up to be the force's first ever female Commissioner, and is now spearheading a campaign for the general public to stop using the term 'fireman' because it's sexist. Dany still regularly attends fires with her force, including at Grenfell Tower, where more than 70 people died in June 2017. She says it's the worst incident she has ever experienced in 30 years of firefighting, and she has never felt such an overwhelming sense of responsibility. Meenakshi Vijayakumar is the Deputy Director of North Western Region at the Tamil Nadu Fire and Rescue Service. She was one of the first ever female divisional fire officers in India, joining in 2003. Meenakshi has been called out to over 300 fires in her career, as well as frequent floods and the devastating 2006 tsunami in the coastal city of Chennai. All the way she has battled a widely held belief among her own colleagues that women should not be firefighters, and says she has had to work twice as hard as a man. In 2013 she was awarded the President's Fire Service Medal for Gallantry for rescuing two people from underneath a collapsed building. (L) Meenakshi Vijayakumar. Credit: Tamil Nadu Fire and Rescue Service (R) Dany Cotton. Credit: London Fire Brigade
Mar 26, 2018
Doreen Lawrence and Patrisse Khan-Cullors: Fighting for racial justice
At the 2018 Women of the World Festival in London, Kim Chakanetsa brings together two extraordinary women who have been instrumental in the fight against racism and police brutality. In 2013, three women came together to form an active response to systemic racism in the US. They'd just learned that the man who shot dead an unarmed black teenager called Trayvon Martin had been acquitted for the killing. They said simply: Black Lives Matter. One of them was Patrisse Khan-Cullors. Patrisse grew up in Los Angeles and became an activist at an early age, having witnessed how her own family members had been treated at the hands of police. In January 2018, she published her memoir, When They Call You a Terrorist. Baroness Doreen Lawrence has campaigned for police reform ever since the murder of her son Stephen in London in 1993. He was stabbed to death at a bus stop in an unprovoked racist attack. Doreen's tireless fight for justice finally resulted in two of his killers being convicted, and in a public inquiry. This resulted in the landmark Macpherson Report, which identified institutional racism in the police service, and led to widespread police reform. Doreen Lawrence has become an important public figure in the UK and was made a life peer in the House of Lords in 2013. Image: Doreen Lawrence and Patrisse Khan-Cullors at the WOW Festival in London Credit: BBC
Mar 19, 2018
Women Reclaiming Their Streets
Marching with fellow women for a cause - Krupa Padhy meets two women who have tackled violence against women head-on, by organising eye-catching and sometimes controversial street protests. Finn Mackay is one of the UK's most influential feminist activists. She founded the London Feminist Network in 2004, the same year that she revived the Reclaim the Night marches, after seeing shocking statistics on violence against women. The marches are women-only, something Finn believes is important, but she says men are welcome to make the tea and take a back-room role. She is currently a Senior Lecturer at the University of the West of England, Bristol. Angie Ng is a Chinese-Canadian feminist activist who founded SlutWalk Hong Kong to protest against sexual violence and victim blaming. She recognises that many view the term 'slut' as degrading, but she wants to problematise the word, rather than reclaim it. Angie says that in Hong Kong there was a pervasive view that sexual violence and street harassment was largely a western, 'foreign' problem, but she wanted to show that it happened in their culture too. Angie is currently writing a book based on her research into women and the sex trade. (L) Image: Finn Mackay. Credit: Reclaim the Night (R) Image and credit: Angie Ng
Mar 12, 2018
Is there a secret formula for finding love and marriage? Two modern-day matchmakers working within the Jewish community and the Hindu community share their unique insights into dating and relationships. Aleeza Ben Shalom is a Jewish-American matchmaker based in Philadelphia, USA, who describes herself as a love coach for marriage-minded singles. Her approach is not necessarily to find someone a match herself, but to give them the tools they might need to find a potential partner, mainly through a series of coaching sessions. She works within the Jewish community, and enjoys matching older singles through her business Marriage Minded Mentor. Geeta Khanna is an Indian matchmaker based in Delhi who tries to bridge the divide between the expectations of traditional parents and the modern desires of her clients. While many Indians are now using dating apps like Tinder and Shaadi, Geeta thinks there is still room for her personal services. Her agency Cocktail Matches serves an affluent Hindu community. She says she works with people of all ages, but in India it can be hard to find a match if you've been divorced. (L) Aleeza Ben Shalom (credit: Yehudis Goldfarb) (R) Geeta Khanna (credit: Vijay Kumar Gupta)
Mar 05, 2018
Creating movie worlds
Two women who shape the look of a film, from sets to props to locations - and have huge influence on our screens. But despite their success, this is still a field dominated by men. Hannah Beachler has translated the African fantasy world of Wakanda onto the big screen in the much-anticipated new superhero movie, Black Panther. She is also the creative force behind the look of the Oscar-winning film Moonlight, and she has won awards for her work on Beyonce's visual album Lemonade. Hannah says sexism on set was so rife when she started out that she de-feminised her appearance, to avoid unwanted attention. Now she's in charge of her department however, she simply doesn't stand for any bad behaviour from anyone. Sarah Greenwood has been nominated for two Academy Awards in 2018 for her work on the box office smash hits The Darkest Hour and Beauty and the Beast. Sarah is considered one of the UK's top production designers and she specialises in films set in the past, including Pride and Prejudice and Atonement. Having been Oscar nominated six times in her career, she says she now has the luxury of being able to make choices, and only work with people she admires. Image: (L) Sarah Greenwood. Credit: Greg Doherty/Getty Images Image: (R) Hannah Beachler. Credit: Chris Britt
Feb 26, 2018
Two swimming stars look back on their extraordinary careers and talk frankly about sexism in the sport, how they overcame major challenges to keep competing and how they dealt with their period ahead of a race. Natalie Coughlin is among the greatest female swimmers in history, with 12 Olympic medals to her name. However when she was a teenager, and already a rising star in the pool, she suffered a severe shoulder injury which put her off competitive swimming altogether. It was only at university when she met her first female coach, Teri McKeever, that she once again felt inspired to go for gold. Natalie went onto become the only US woman to earn six medals at one Olympics. And at 35 years old she still hasn't officially retired. Natalie du Toit is a Paralympic champion from South Africa who refused to be defined by the scooter accident that left her an amputee at the age of 17. Before the accident she had been dreaming of competing in the Olympics and was tipped for success. Three months after she lost her left leg at the knee, she was back in the pool, determined to see what she could achieve. Not only has she now won 13 Paralympic golds but she also competed at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. She retired from the sport in 2012. (L) Natalie Coughlin (credit: Aaron Okayama) (R) Natalie du Toit (credit: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Feb 19, 2018
Fighting revenge porn
Can women stop their intimate photos being published online without their consent? Kim Chakanetsa brings together two women fighting back against so-called 'revenge' porn Nyika Allen is President and CEO of the New Mexico Technology Council. In 2015, Nyika's ex-boyfriend began posting compromising photographs of her on Twitter. As they were viewed by complete strangers she was overwhelmed by shock and humiliation, but decided that she would not let him win. As well as getting the images taken down, and taking her ex to court, she successfully lobbied her state's politicians. With her help, New Mexico is now one of a growing number of US states to pass a law against revenge - or non-consensual - pornography. Talent Jumo supports survivors of revenge porn in Zimbabwe, through her organisation Katswe Sistahood. She says the trauma of the experience is often made worse by the reaction of family who can reject their daughters for bringing shame on them. She believes society stigmatises women for this whereas men are celebrated for their virility. And bullying by ex-partners is grounded in the assumption that they won't speak out. She is helping women do just that, as well as helping to draft much-needed laws that can punish this new crime. Image: (L) Talent Jumo. Credit: DCNGO. Courtesy of The Global Fund Image: (R) Nyika Allen. Credit: Joel Bond
Feb 12, 2018
Women in Carnivals
Cutting off men's ties, throwing sequined stilettos and storming City Hall - carnival may at first appear to be a frivolous occasion, but Joanna Impey speaks to two women who say that feminist and even revolutionary ideas are at the root of carnival traditions, and are still highly relevant today. Staci Rosenberg is the founder of one of the few all-female Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans. When she moved to the city as a student, she discovered that the social clubs which organise the parades were mostly male, moneyed and invitation-only. So she set up the 'Krewe of Muses' - which now has over 1,000 members and has had to close its waiting list due to high demand. Monika Hoerig is the spokeswoman for the City of Bonn in Germany. But once a year, she joins a group of women to 'overthrow' her boss, the Mayor, and take control of City Hall. This symbolic takeover can be traced back to the 1820s, when a group of washerwomen got together to ditch their work and complain about their menfolk. The event marks the start of the carnival season in the area. Image: (L) Washer Princess. ©: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images Image: (R) Muses shoe. ©: Ryan Hodgson-Rigsbee
Feb 05, 2018
Caught in a digital storm
Are women treated unfairly on social media, and is the situation worse for women of colour? Krupa Padhy meets two social activists who unexpectedly found themselves at the centre of a digital storm, and asks what happened next. Munroe Bergdorf is a British model, DJ and social activist who came to public attention in 2017 when she was employed as the first transgender model in a L'Oreal cosmetics campaign. She was dropped by the company after a social media post in which she said all white people were guilty of racial violence, prompting a swift backlash. She says her words were taken out of context but she stands by them. Munroe received rape and death threats for weeks, but she fought back, has secured a new beauty contract and is now a public speaker on race issues. Yassmin Abdel-Magied is a Sudanese-Australian engineer, writer and activist who was named Queensland Young Australian of the Year 2015. However just two years later she found herself facing a barrage of criticism after posting a seven word status online that was seen by many as disrespectful to fallen soldiers on Anzac Day. Although she apologised immediately, she says that didn't stop her becoming the most publicly hated Muslim in Australia, and the months of abuse only calmed down when she left the country for good. (L) Munroe Bergdorf. Credit: Elvind Hansen (R) Yassmin Abdel-Magied. Credit: Lucy Alcorn
Jan 29, 2018
Storm Chasers
Two women who are spellbound by the power of storms talk to Kim Chakanetsa about why they are drawn to danger, what it feels like to be trapped inside a Category Four hurricane and the thrill of the chase. Karen Kosiba is a scientist based at the Center for Severe Weather Research in Boulder, Colorado. She chases extreme weather events to study the wind structure inside tornadoes and to measure the winds in hurricanes. She is mostly focussed on the data she collects from the relative safety of a radar truck, but sometimes she gets a chance to look out of the window and marvel at the sheer force of nature. Sarah Alsayegh is a photographer from Kuwait who started out taking photos of Kuwait City, seeking out the most dramatic sunsets, looming skies and dust storms as backdrops to her images. She also became the first Arab woman to travel to the area known as tornado alley in the US. She says people are often taken aback to see a woman chasing storms, but she loves the way they make her feel - like a tiny human being amidst the vastness of the natural world. Image (L) Karen Kosiba (credit: Gino De Grandis) Image and credit: (R) Sarah Alsayegh
Jan 22, 2018
Women on the Board
Do women wield any real power in the boardroom? Kim Chakanetsa gets together top female executives from India and Ireland to discuss. Named one of India's most powerful women by Fortune India, Roopa Kudva has extensive experience of sitting on the board, both as a CEO and as an independent director. She currently leads the philanthropic investment firm, Omidyar Network, in India and also sits on the boards of Infosys and Tata AIA Life Insurance as an independent director. Roopa says companies should have more women on their boards for two simple reasons: 50% of their customers are women, and companies with diverse boards have been proven to perform better. Adaire Fox-Martin joined the executive board of the global software solutions company SAP in 2017, where she is one of two women. The board area she is jointly responsible for is Global Customer Operations, and she oversees the whole of Europe as well as China. Adaire describes this board area as the 'Crown Jewels of the company'. While she is not necessarily a fan of quotas per se, she says she can see that regulation and legislation can begin to effect change further down the line, and lead to an increase in the numbers of women in senior management. This in turn means that more women are now breaking through to board level. Image: (L) Adaire Fox-Martin. Credit: SAP Image and credit: (R) Roopa Kudva. Credit: Omidyar Network
Jan 15, 2018
Women Behind the Lens
Two award-winning photographers on the importance of having women behind the lens. They tell Kim Chakanetsa what drives them, the challenges they face in the field and how they justify the amount of travel they do in the name of reversing climate change. Cristina Mittermeier is a Mexican photographer who grew up alongside indigenous Mexican tribes, and witnessed their struggle to maintain their way of life. As a teenager, she began to worry about the impact that overpopulation was having on the environment. She started out her career as a marine biologist, before deciding that her photos rather than her scientific journals could have more impact on the world. Ami Vitale is an American photojournalist who won a World Press Photo 2017 award for her series about Chinese panda breeding programmes. As a National Geographic photographer she has travelled to more than 90 countries around the world, and her work focusses on the conflict that often arises between humans and their environment. She is based in Montana, USA. Image (L) Cristina Mittermeierand (R) Ami Vitale Credit: (L) Paul Nicklen and (R) Ami Vitale
Jan 08, 2018
Braving rough seas to make a living - it's not easy being a fisherwoman, but for our two guests it's about much more than the catch. They talk to Kim Chakanetsa about working in the open air, forming unique bonds with their crew and about their hopes for a sustainable future of fishing. Claire Neaton is one half of Salmon Sisters, a commercial fishing and nautical clothing company, based in Alaska. She and her sister Emma grew up in the remote Aleutian Islands in Alaska, and learnt to fish at their father's side. She says their unusual upbringing taught them to be self-sufficient and to value their family ties - and that protecting and maintaining the pristine conditions around Alaska's waters is her top priority for the future. Steinunn Einarsdottir is a fisherwoman based in the remote north-west of Iceland. Her parents were both at sea when she was a child, and she had to fend for herself when they were away. For many years, she has fished year-round, which is rare for women in Iceland, but now she's had her second child she's working in fish farming. She hopes to get back to life on the waves when her children are a little older, despite the fact that it always makes her seasick! (L) Claire Neaton (credit: Camrin Dengel) (R) Steinunn Einarsdottir (credit: Steinunn Einarsdottir)
Jan 01, 2018
A surrogate mother and a mother who used a surrogate - Kim Chakanetsa explores the ethics and emotions of carrying a child for someone else, with two women from the United States and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Krystal Wallace is from Texas and already had two children of her own when she saw a TV programme about surrogacy and thought it could be for her. After a rocky start, she has now been a gestational surrogate for three different childless couples. She hates the term 'womb for rent', preferring to call it 'extreme babysitting'. Krystal says seeing the parents' faces when they meet their child is the most amazing feeling for her, and she doesn't feel any sense of loss when they take the baby home. Jeanne Kapongo is from DRC and now lives in South Africa. She and her husband dreamed of having a big family but it took them ten years to fall pregnant with their first child. She says that she would not have felt complete without a second child, but after four more miscarriages they decided to opt for surrogacy. Jeanne says she was lucky to find a surrogate mother she connected with straight away, although it was a nerve-wracking process, as in South Africa the surrogate has the right to terminate the pregnancy for any reason. Image: (L) Krystal Wallace and (R) Jeanne Kapongo Credit: Krystal Wallace and Marie Claire
Dec 25, 2017
My Dad Was a Serial Killer
Finding out your father is a serial killer, and living with the consequences. Kim Chakanetsa brings together two women from the US and Australia who share this unusual experience, and asks why they both decided to speak publicly about it. Jenn Carson is a teacher in California and the daughter of Michael 'Bear' Carson, who committed three murders in the US between 1981 and 1983, alongside his second wife Suzan. Jenn was told about her father's crimes when she was nine years old, and says the discovery led to long-term nightmares and depression. She has only seen her father once since then, and recently campaigned - alongside his victims' families - for his parole to be refused. Elisha Rose is an Australian lawyer who discovered by watching the news when she was 13 that her father Lindsey had murdered five people. Elisha used to visit her father in prison until she realised that he was never going to take real responsibility for his crimes. She says that while she will never obtain closure from him, having this experience has been a driver to make her own life meaningful and purposeful, and to do good in the world. (L) Image: Elisha Rose. Credit: Australian Story. (R) Image and credit: Jenn Carson
Dec 18, 2017
Women Inspiring a Love of Books
Two librarians running vastly different libraries in South Africa and the United States share their passion for books and their secrets for inspiring children to read. Carla Hayden runs the biggest library in the world, the Library of Congress. As the first woman and first African American to take on the role she made history when she was nominated by former President Barack Obama. Carla now oversees the library's extensive collection of books, manuscripts and historical artefacts, which include an original Gutenberg bible and the first ever map of America. One of the library's main functions is to assist US Congress in the research it needs in order to pass bills. Prior to her appointment she spent most of her career working in public libraries, most recently in Baltimore, Maryland. Edith Fezeka Khuzwayo is the managing librarian at the Murray Park Library in the city of Johannesburg, South Africa. It's a tiny library, no bigger than a kitchen, and it serves a deprived community, where 90% of women cannot read. That has a huge impact on the local children, so Edith has come up with innovative ideas to encourage both kids and parents to use the library. Edith knows all too well what it means to be illiterate: she herself grew up in a rural area on the Eastern Cape, in a household without books, but her sheer love of reading her school notes meant she was always top of the class. (Photo: Edith Khuzwayo (L) and Carla Hayden (R). Credit: Shawn Miller.
Dec 04, 2017
First ladies
What exactly is the role of the first lady? It's an unofficial position, that comes with enormous expectations, and some obvious pitfalls. Kim Chakanetsa speaks to the First Lady of Namibia, Monica Geingos, and the former First Lady of Iceland, Jonina Leosdottir. Monica Geingos is a lawyer and businesswoman who married Hage Geingob in 2015, shortly before he became President of Namibia. Monica has continued with many of her previous responsibilities, but she seeks to complement her husband's work by supporting socioeconomic projects in the country. She looks forward to the day when there are more female heads of state and spouses are no longer judged on what they wear or who they're married to. Jonina Leosdottir is an Icelandic novelist and playwright, whose long-time partner, Johanna Sigurdardottir, became Prime Minister of Iceland in 2009. Jonina therefore became the world's first gay First Lady, and she had to make many personal sacrifices as her partner steered the country through economic crisis. Jonina carried on with her writing career, but says she hardly saw Johanna for five years. Now, however, she's (mostly) happy to have her back. (L) Monica Geingos (credit: Paul Morigi/Getty Images) (R) Jonina Leosdottir (credit: Elsa Bjorg Magnusdottir)
Nov 27, 2017
Negotiating peace
What happens when women try to hammer out a peace deal? How does it differ from the way men do it? According to the United Nations, fewer than 3% of signatories to peace agreements are women. We meet two women who hope to change that. They made history in Northern Ireland and in Colombia by bringing the gender issue to the forefront of the peace process. Monica McWilliams is a Northern Irish peace negotiator who played a key role in the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, which brought an end to the Troubles. Monica co-founded the Northern Ireland Women's Coalition in order to get female representatives at the negotiating table. She was subsequently involved in the implementation of the agreement as head of the country's Human Rights Commission. She now advises women around the world on how to negotiate peace deals in countries such as Syria and Myanmar. Hilde Salvesen was part of Norwegian team which facilitated the recent peace negotiations in Colombia between the government and Farc rebels - the first of its kind to include a gender subcommittee to address the needs of women in the peace process. Hilde developed her strong understanding of Latin America when she travelled there as a student, and witnessed conflict first-hand in Guatemala and El Salvador. She currently works at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, part of the University of Oslo. (L) Image and credit: Monica McWilliams (R) Image: Hilde Salvesen. Credit: uio
Nov 20, 2017
Being Blind
Opening a bank account and praying in peace - just two things blind women cannot take for granted in Ethiopia and India. Kim Chakanetsa has a revealing conversation with two women who are taking on these challenges and more. Yetnebersh Nigussie recently won the Right Livelihood Prize - widely referred to as the 'Alternative Nobel Prize' - for her work promoting disabled people's rights in her country. Yetnebersh is a lawyer born and raised in rural Ethiopia who lost her eye sight at the age of five. She says growing up blind had its challenges but in the end it was a kind of liberation - she was not considered suitable for early marriage due to her disability, and her mother insisted that she was educated instead. Poonam Vaidya lives in Bangalore and lost her sight seven years ago when she was 21. After the initial shock, she says she tried not to ask, 'why me?' and slowly took hold of her independence again. She went on to further studies, and is now a content writer and blogger. She loves to travel, and is particularly interested in making transport more accessible for blind people. Poonam recently spent a year at the Colorado Center for the Blind in the US where she completed various challenges including travelling to four cities in one day. (l) Yetnebersh Nigussie (credit: Studio Casagrande) (r) Poonam Vaidya (credit: Raj Lalwani)
Nov 13, 2017
A Syrian architect who watched her city destroyed around her talks to an Irish architect who helped create community spaces in a migrant camp. They emphasize the importance of authenticity, simplicity and boundaries when it comes to designing buildings and public spaces. Marwa al-Sabouni runs an architectural practice together with her husband in the Syrian city of Homs. She has watched her city be torn apart by war, and believes communities are directly shaped by the environment they inhabit. She has now turned her mind to the question of how architecture might play a role in reversing the damage and rebuilding her country. She has written a memoir about her experiences called 'The Battle for Home'. Grainne Hassett is a senior lecturer at the School of Architecture, University of Limerick. She also runs her own architecture practice. In August 2015 she travelled to the migrant camp in Calais, known as 'The Jungle', where she ended up building several temporary community buildings with the help of volunteers. Although the buildings were demolished, she has taken the lessons she learnt from the camp into her wider work. Image: Marwa al-Sabouni and Grainne Hassett (R) with Kim Chakanetsa (L) Credit: BBC
Nov 06, 2017
The joy of coming together through song - Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women who have created choirs that go beyond simply making music. Mika Danny started the Rana Choir in 2008, with a clear mission to unite Arab and Jewish women in song. Mika lives in Jaffa in Israel and says that while women from Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities find it almost impossible to discuss what they call 'the situation' there, they have been able to come together 'as a family' through singing a repertoire that reflects all their different cultural backgrounds. Esmeralda Conde Ruiz says her life is "Music, music all day long". Originally from Spain via Germany, she now leads many different amateur and professional choirs in London, and says she always wants to push people to do things they didn't know they were capable of - whether they are a small community choir from Borough Market or a 500-strong amateur group of singers performing at the Tate Modern art gallery. Photo: (L) Mika Danny (credit: Noa Ben Shalom) and (R) Esmeralda Conde Ruiz (credit: MIO)
Oct 30, 2017
Life in Extreme Conditions
Pushing the limits in the name of science: Two women who have lived and worked in some of the most extreme conditions on earth talk to Kim Chakanetsa about the challenges of cold and dry conditions, the bonds they form on base, and what draws them back to these remote places. Carolyn Graves is a Canadian meteorologist currently working for the British Antarctic Survey. In 2016 she travelled to the Halley Research Station in Antarctica. She was planning to spend a whole year there, carrying out meteorological observations and monitoring all the technical equipment. But after just six months the entire team were forced to abandon base, over fears of a growing crack in the ice shelf. Violette Impellizzeri is an Italian astronomer who currently works at the ALMA observatory in Chile's Atacama Desert. She travels to base camp, which is 3,000m above sea level, about once every six weeks. The conditions are extreme - dry and remote - but the clear skies are ideal for the telescope, which provides unique research opportunities for scientists around the world. L-Image and credit: Violette Impellizeri at the ALMA observatory, Atacama Desert, Chile. Credit: Cristian Pontoni. R-Image: Carolyn Graves launching a balloon at the Halley Research Station in Antarctica. Credit: Kevin Hallam.
Oct 23, 2017
Casting Directors
Top female casting directors in the UK and India chat to Kim Chakanetsa about fighting for the actors they want in a film, their proudest casting moments, and the painful job of telling someone they didn't get the part. Nina Gold is the woman behind the casting of the HBO series Game of Thrones and the new Star Wars films. She has also cast Oscar-winning movies such as The King's Speech and The Theory of Everything as well as countless TV drama series in the UK and US. She says she loves to unearth and push forward new young talent. Her work has been recognised by BAFTA with a special award in 2016. Nandini Shrikent is one of India's top casting directors. Based at the heart of Bollywood in Mumbai, she cast the lead actor for the multi-award winning film Life of Pi, as well as numerous home-grown movies including Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. She says casting the smaller parts is actually the real test of skill - finding the perfect actor for a walk-on role can be tougher than casting a big romantic lead. (L) Nina Gold (credit: Teri Pengilley) and (R) Nandini Shrikent (credit: Nandini Shrikent)
Oct 16, 2017
Tattoo Artists
Women who ink and get inked talk to Faranak Amidi about why they were drawn to the world of tattooing, how they developed their signature styles, and why getting a tattoo of your partner's name is a big no-no! Claudia de Sabe is an Italian tattoo artist, who works at Seven Doors Tattoo in London. She got into the culture as a teenager when she was listening to punk music and hardcore bands. Her first tattoos were on her ankles and she says she still likes being able to hide them away discreetly. She's gained a big Instagram following with her detailed and eye-catching designs that combine both western and oriental styles. Wendy Pham is an Australian tattoo artist, who runs her own tattoo studio in Berlin called Taiko Gallery. She is heavily influenced by the Japanese cartoons she watched as a child - you can expect to see animals wearing kimonos and eating bowls of noodles in her colourful, fun designs. In fact, on social media she's known as 'wen ramen.' She got her first tattoo at the age of 18, but she says she hated it, and so she always makes sure her clients are certain about what they want before she puts ink to skin. Image and credit: (L) Wendy Pham Image and credit: (R) Claudia de Sabe
Oct 09, 2017
Turning Waste into Treasure
Leftover food, animal dung and an invasive water weed - Faranak Amidi talks to two female entrepreneurs in Nigeria and the US who have found profitable uses for stuff that no-one else wants. Pashon Murray is the founder of Detroit Dirt, a company that collects food waste from businesses and animal dung from the zoo and mixes them together into rich compost, or 'black gold'. Inspired by her grandfather's connection to the land, and determined to reduce landfill and promote sustainability, Pashon wants to re-connect communities with the soil. However she says she is not running a charity, and it is a business model that others could learn from. Returning to Nigeria after an absence, Achenyo Idachaba saw that the waterways were choked with an invasive weed called water hyacinth; and she had a hunch that maybe this problem plant could be turned into something useful. A few years on and her company MitiMeth is paying local fishermen and artisans to harvest the weed, training them to make high-end handicrafts from it and selling them. Achenyo says it is a win-win for the environment and the economy of her country. (L) Pashon Murray (credit: Anastasia McKendrick) and (R) Achenyo Idachaba (credit: Christian Morales)
Oct 02, 2017
My time in public office
Two former politicians reveal the realities of life in public office. They talk to Kim Chakanetsa about why they went into politics, what impact they had and why a thick skin is absolutely critical. Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a Nigerian economist who served two terms as finance minister of Nigeria from 2003 to 2006 and from 2011 to 2015, having previously been a managing director at the World Bank. But holding political office was never part of her plan. Instead she was appointed to the role by the then president. She became the first female finance minister in Nigeria. She says her father had always impressed upon her the importance of doing one's duty for one's country, but now she's left politics she enjoys the freedom of having more control over her life. She currently chairs the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI). Lindiwe Mazibuko is a South African politician and former parliamentary leader of the Democratic Alliance. Lindiwe was elected to parliament aged 29, and was seen as a rising star of the party, but faced misogynistic attacks as her profile grew. She resigned her position in 2014, saying she wanted to pursue postgraduate studies at Harvard University in the US. She's now writing a book about young people and public office, but hopes to return to front-line politics in a few years' time. Image: Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Credit: Shaun Curry/AFP/GETTY IMAGES Image: Lindiwe Mazibuko. Credit: Rodger Bosch/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Sep 25, 2017
The ancient art of falconry holds a magical appeal for our guests this week. They talk to Kim Chakanetsa about why they were drawn to this ancient tradition, the unique relationship they form with their birds, and the concerns of those who consider it cruel. Helen Macdonald from the UK is the bestselling author of H is for Hawk, a moving account of the year she spent training Mabel the goshawk after her father's death. As a child Helen was obsessed by birds of prey and was determined to become a falconer - later she used her writing to bring the powerful relationship between humans, falcons and nature to a wider public. She's not currently working with a bird, but she dreams of flying merlin falcons. Lauren McGough from Oklahoma in the US has become a world authority on the golden eagle - though growing up she didn't know falconry existed. She discovered the sport at the age of 14 and has been hooked ever since, travelling to Mongolia to learn more about eagle falconry from nomadic eagle hunters. She's currently based in South Africa, where she's working with a male crowned eagle called Dart. Image: (L) Lauren McGough (credit Jennifer Campbell Smith) and (R) Helen Macdonald (credit: Mike Birkhead)
Sep 18, 2017
Gymnasts: Simone Biles and Nadia Comaneci
Legendary gymnasts Simone Biles and Nadia Comaneci get together with Kim Chakanetsa for a frank discussion of the highs and lows of their sport. At the Montreal Olympics in 1976, aged just 14, Nadia Comaneci became the first gymnast in history to be awarded a perfect 10 for her routine on the uneven bars. Nadia went on to win 25 medals during her gymnastic career, including five Olympic gold medals. Originally from Romania, Nadia defected to the US in 1989 and now runs a gymnastics school in Oklahoma. Simone Biles burst onto the Olympic gymnastics scene at the 2016 Rio Games, with her jaw-dropping trademark move The Biles, and took home four gold medals. Not bad for a 19 year old, who only got into the sport by accident when a coach at a local gym spotted her perfectly copying the older girls' moves, aged six. Simone is now the most decorated American gymnast of all time, holding 19 Olympic and World Championship medals. (Photo: (L) Nadia Comaneci. Credit: Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images. (R) Simone Biles. Credit: Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Sep 11, 2017
The Changing Role of Charity
Running an international charity in today's changing world is the task taken on by our two guests, who talk to Kim Chakanetsa about how their organisations are adjusting to the changing demands of those in need. Winnie Byanyima is Executive Director of Oxfam International, which works to alleviate global poverty. Born in Uganda, Winnie has been a trailblazer and an activist from the beginning - as a student protester she was forced to flee the country at the age of 17. Later, she became a parliamentarian under Yoweri Museveni, and went on to hold high-level roles at the African Union and the UN. She joined Oxfam in 2013 and she's currently overseeing the ambitious relocation of its international headquarters from the UK to Kenya. Brita Fernandez Schmidt is Executive Director of Women for Women International UK, a charity which supports women in eight countries affected by war and conflict. They offer a year-long course to marginalised women, with the aim of giving them access to life-changing support and skills. Brita herself was born in Germany but grew up in Venezuela, where she witnessed poverty at first hand, and remembers being particularly struck by how poverty disproportionately affected women. She says she always had a burning sense of justice - and that when she sees something that's not right, she can't leave it be. Image: (l)Winnie Byanyima and (r) Brita Fernandez Schmidt Credit: (l) Oxfam and (r) Monia Antonioli
Sep 04, 2017
Editors in Chief
Being in charge of Huffpost and The Guardian - Kim Chakanetsa brings together two women who are re-shaping their international news publications. Lydia Polgreen is Global Editor in Chief of HuffPost. She took over from founder Ariana Huffington in 2016, after spending 15 years at the New York Times, where she had postings across Africa and Asia. The child of an Ethiopian mother and an American father, Lydia was raised in neither country, growing up mainly in Kenya and Ghana. She says moving around so much means she is now a self-made insider - precisely because she is an outsider everywhere. Katharine Viner is Editor in Chief of Guardian News and Media, and is the first woman in the paper's almost 200-year history to hold this role. Katharine had her first article published in The Guardian newspaper when she was still at school, however she says the penny didn't drop that she was meant to be a journalist until several years later. She took charge of daily news operations across print and digital media in 2015. Image (L): Katharine Viner. Credit: The Guardian Image (R): Lydia Polgreen. Credit: HuffPost
Aug 28, 2017
Running a Museum
Two women who run museums that document the lives and legacies of iconic figures of twentieth century history: Anne Frank and Nelson Mandela. Garance Reus-Deelder is Managing Director of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, which welcomes 1.3 million visitors every year and faces numerous challenges due to the cramped nature of the space. Garance herself was born in the Netherlands but grew up in Zambia, where she remembers visiting memorials rather than museums. She first went into business before joining the museum in 2012. She describes the power of objects to tell stories, and how to handle the legacy of a young girl. Wayde Davy is Director of Mandela House in Soweto, and Deputy Director of the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. She herself had little exposure to museums as a child under apartheid - but she later became fascinated with how they work, and believes that museums have the power to educate people about the past and provide a forum for everyone to air their views in what is still a divided society. Image: (l) Garance Reus-Deelder and (r) Wayde Davy Credit: (l) Anne Frank House/Cris Toala Olivares and (r) n/a
Aug 21, 2017
Spectacular volcanic eruptions on earth and in space - Kim Chakanetsa unites two women who share a deep love of volcanoes. Janine Krippner is from New Zealand, and as a child visited Ngauruhoe - the volcano made famous as Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings films - and had an intense feeling that this is where she belonged. Years later she found herself inside the crater collecting research data. Janine is now based at the University of Pittsburgh and studies remote volcanoes in Russia and the US and looks for clues as to how super-fast flows of hot gas and rocks called pyroclastic flows travel after eruptions. Rosaly Lopes is a Senior Research Scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and she is also Manager of the Planetary Science Section. Born and raised in Brazil, Rosaly has visited over 60 active volcanoes on every continent, but as exciting as she finds these trips, volcanoes on other planets are her real focus. She has personally discovered 71 active volcanoes on Jupiter's moon Io, which has earned her a place in the record books. Image and credit (L): Janine Krippner in front of Osorno volcano, Los Lagos Region, southern Chile Image and credit (R): Rosaly Lopes on Mount Yasur volcano, Tanna Island, Vanuatu
Aug 14, 2017
HIV-AIDS Doctors
Two doctors at the epicentre of the AIDS crisis - Glenda Gray and Wafaa El-Sadr - have worked tirelessly to care for those affected by the virus, to combat its spread, and to get the drugs to those who need it. Glenda Gray is a South African paediatrician and world-renowned scientist who currently directs the HIV Vaccine Trials study, which is the largest of its kind ever conducted in South Africa. Thanks in part to her work on mother-to-child transmission, the number of babies born with HIV has dropped dramatically from 600,000 a year to 150,000. Glenda herself grew up under Apartheid in a family of activists, and carried on her fight for social justice into medical school and beyond. Wafaa El-Sadr is director of ICAP based at Columbia University in New York. Born in Egypt to a family of physicians, Wafaa was working as a young doctor in Harlem, when the first AIDS cases began to appear in the 1980s. She didn't know she was witnessing the start of an epidemic that was to sweep across the globe. Wafaa helped develop a treatment programme that is now used as a model around the world. Image: (L) Glenda Gray (credit: JP Crouch Photography) and (R) Wafaa El-Sadr (credit: Michael Dames)
Aug 07, 2017
Cities After Dark
Cities that come alive at night, with two women who know where to go and what to do. Kim Chakanetsa speaks to a DJ from Lebanon and a singer-songwriter from China who take her on a virtual tour of their favourite nightlife scenes. Nicole Moudaber is a Nigerian-born Lebanese DJ and music producer. Nicole began exploring Beirut's nightlife as a promoter, hosting successful club nights for years before turning her hands to the decks. She has since been described as one of the best techno DJs on the scene, sharing her distinct beats with the nightlife scenes in New York, Ibiza and beyond. ChaCha Yehaiyahan is regarded as the queen of the underground music scene in Shanghai, a city that is a far cry from the rural mountainous village she grew up in in southwest China. She left home at 16 with her sights firmly set on the bright lights of Beijing, and wound up in Shanghai, which she says has a nightlife scene unparalleled in China. Image: (L) ChaCha Yehaiyahan. Credit: AJ Schokora Image: (R) Nicole Moudaber. Credit: Woolhouse Studios
Jul 31, 2017
Diving into the Past
Two archaeologists take us on an underwater adventure to uncover secrets about our past. Between them they've explored wooden vessels dating back hundreds of years, discovered Roman statues in the Mediterranean and Chinese ceramics in the Gulf of Thailand, and even stumbled upon what may be an Aboriginal rubbish dump. Pornnatcha 'Jo' Sankhaprasit is Thailand's first ever female underwater archaeologist. She grew up in the Thai mountains and didn't even see the sea until she was nine years old. She's always had a passion for history and adventure, and she was drawn to marine archaeology because sites are often far better preserved underwater than on land. However the water, and deep dives in particular, still scare her - and the breathing apparatus weighs more than she does! But it's all worth it when she gets to work on ancient wrecks like the well-preserved Chinese ship that sank in the Gulf of Thailand more than 500 years ago. Sarah Ward is a renowned maritime archaeologist from Australia, who has a vast and varied experience in her field. She has worked on underwater archaeological sites from a Roman wreck off the coast of Turkey, to the Tudor flagship, the Mary Rose, and a warship that sank off the coast of Argentina in 1790. These days she works mainly on commercial maritime projects, carrying out detailed surveys and excavations of harbours, ports and other coastal sites. (L) Image: Sarah Ward. Credit:Surface Supplied Diver Training (R) Image: Pornnatcha Sankhaprasit. Credit: Ian McCann
Jul 24, 2017
Anoushka Shankar on sitar and Kasiva Mutua on drums...two celebrated female musicians talk to Kim Chakanetsa about their paths to mastering instruments more traditionally played by men. Anoushka Shankar's father, the legendary Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar taught her to play the instrument from the age of 9. She first performed in public with her father at 13 and got a recording contract as soon as she finished school. She says growing up surrounded by music actually meant she had a complicated relationship with it, involving both love and fear. Despite that she decided to embrace the sitar on her own terms and is now heralded as probably the best female player in the world, making nine solo albums and receiving six Grammy nominations for her work. Anoushka says she's now experimenting with her music in ways she wished she had done 20 years ago. Kasiva Mutua is a Kenyan percussionist who discovered her love for drums at a young age, finding rhythms in her grandmother's stories and in the everyday sounds around her. She pursued drumming in secret throughout her teenage years before deciding to make a career of it - much to the dismay of her family and the wider community; female drumming in Kenya is considered taboo. Determined to follow her passion Kasiva is now an internationally touring drummer and part of the African music initiative The Nile Project. She says she had to fight to play - but it's all been worth it. (L) Image: Kasiva Mutua on drums at the Miami Dade NP Concert in 2015 US Tour. Credit: Jim Virga (R) Image: Anoushka Shankar with sitar. Credit: Jamie-James Medina / Deutsche Grammophon
Jul 17, 2017
Women in Animation
Forget the wicked witch or the pretty princess - a new generation of women in animation are doing away with cartoon cliches. Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women doing their bit to ensure that female characters are accurately drawn from life, rather than stereotypes. Niki Yang grew up in South Korea visiting comic book rooms and watching Japanese anime on TV - which helped her realise her passion for drawing and storytelling. Niki established her own career in animation when she moved to Los Angeles more than a decade ago. She's since worked on a number of well-known cartoons including Family Guy and Adventure Time. She says the birth of her son has introduced a new humour to her life and work. Aliki Theofilopoulos is a Greek-American television writer and animator, who's currently working at DreamWorks. As a child she loved watching slapstick cartoons like Bugs Bunny and Looney Tunes, but it was Disney's Dumbo that truly inspired her to work in animation. In a career spanning more than 20 years, Aliki has worked on household hits like Mulan and Hercules. She's also worked on popular TV series Phineas and Ferb which sees two step-brothers invent wonderful and wacky machines. Image: Niki Yang (l) and Aliki Theofilopoulos (r) Credit: Niki Yang (l) & Epic Imagery (r)
Jul 10, 2017
Maths is Fun
Calculator tricks and baking cakes - how two female mathematicians help people have fun with maths. Eugenia Cheng's aim is to rid the world of 'math phobia' and she uses baking to explain complex mathematical ideas to the general public, via her books and YouTube channel. For instance, she makes puff pastry to reveal how exponential growth works. Eugenia has taught Pure Mathematics at universities in the UK, France and US and is currently Scientist in Residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her most recent book is called Beyond Infinity: An Expedition to the Outer Limits of the Mathematical Universe. Sara Santos engages the unsuspecting public in maths through a kind of street performance. Originally from Portugal, Sara now runs a company called Maths Busking in the UK, and tours festivals, schools and corporate events wearing a yellow top hat and doing maths for people's amusement. Her 'tricks' include tying people up with ropes and guessing their birthdays. Sara says the idea that only very clever people are good at maths is rubbish; anyone can do it. (L) Image and credit: Eugenia Cheng (R) Image: Sara Santos. Credit: Paul Clarke
Jul 03, 2017
Daughters of Political Icons
Growing up with a name that has resonance around the world - and a father with a towering reputation. That's been the experience of Samia Nkrumah and Noo Saro-Wiwa. We'll hear about the pride and burdens they carry with them, and how their fathers' untimely deaths have shaped their lives. Samia Nkrumah is the daughter of Ghana's first president, Kwame Nkrumah - the man who led his country to independence in 1957, and became an international symbol of freedom as the leader of the first African country to shake off the chains of colonial rule. Samia was just 11 at the time of her father's death, and hadn't seen him for six years, after the family were separated following his overthrow. Still, Samia decided to follow her father into politics and currently chairs the Convention People's Party, a political party in Ghana founded by her father. Noo Saro-Wiwa is the daughter of Ken Saro-Wiwa, the Nigerian writer and environmental activist who was killed in 1995 after leading peaceful protests against the oil industry in his home region of Ogoniland. Noo was a 19-year-old student at the time of his death. She went on to become a journalist and author based in the UK - she has written an account of her own journey around Nigeria called 'Looking for Transwonderland'. Image: Samia Nkrumah (credit: Samia Nkrumah) (l) and NooSaro-Wiwa (credit: Michael Wharley) (r)
Jun 26, 2017
What draws women to motorbikes, whether it's weaving them through traffic or seeing the world from one? Kim Chakanetsa asks two women from Poland and Kenya who spend their lives in the saddle. Aleksandra 'Ola' Trzaskowska's love of motorbikes is not about the machine itself - it's about the thrill of seeing new places from the best vantage point. She used to be a lawyer in Warsaw but gave it up to do what she loves. Ola now runs tours on two wheels to Asia, North Africa and both American continents. On her own trips she always aims to steer off the beaten track - preferring to explore countries like Afghanistan alone. Even breaking her leg in a road accident in Cuba hasn't put her off - as soon as it's mended she'll be straight back on her bike. Naomi Irungu took up bikes two years ago when she met her motorcycle-mad husband. She had always wanted to try but was warned off by her family after her uncle died in a motorbike accident. Naomi says it can be exhilarating and scary riding through rush-hour traffic in Nairobi, dodging the matatus and the taxi-bikes that jostle for road space. She loves to get out of the city on longer rides and for her recent wedding she was picked up by a 15 strong motorcade of biker friends. L-Image and credit: Ola Trzaskowska R-Image and credit: Naomi Irungu
Jun 19, 2017
Finding my Voice Through Art
The power of art to change lives. Two women talk to Kim Chakanetsa about how they use art to enable refugees, asylum seekers and young women to find their creative voice. Isha Fofana is a Gambian artist who set up an art centre in her country to encourage young women to pursue their artistic talents. Although she showed an interest in art at a young age, she was not fully able to explore it until she was much older. Her canvasses are often large and extremely colourful, capturing the joy and power she sees in the women around her. Zeina Iaali is a Lebanese-Australian artist who volunteers at the Refugee Art Project in Sydney, which supports refugees and asylum seekers to tell their stories through art. Her own artwork revolves around her experiences as a Muslim woman in Australia. She says art has the power to bring people together, and that's where magic happens. Photo: (L) Zeina Iaali. Credit: Refugee Art Project. (R) Isha Fofana. Credit: Mama Africa)
Jun 12, 2017
Women in Cults
Prayers and preparation for the apocalypse - two women share with Kim Chakanetsa their experiences of life in strict religious communities they would call cults. Natacha Tormey was born into an international evangelical group and led a highly regimented life in communes in Thailand, Indonesia and France. She says physical discipline and sexual abuse were common, and as children they were separated from their parents. As a teenager she began to question the ideas of the leaders, and at 18 she left the cult and her family behind. Natacha has now settled in the UK and is the author of 'Cults - A Bloodstained History'. Claire Ashman grew up in a strict religious community in Australia. She left at 18 to get married, but a few years later her husband joined them up to what she now calls a doomsday cult. Claire and her eight children spent their life behind barbed wire fences and there was limited contact with the outside world. Much time was spent preparing for an impending apocalypse. A decade ago, Claire and her family left. She now calls herself an anti-cult activist. Photo and credit: (L) Claire Ashman Photo and credit: (R) Natacha Tormey
Jun 05, 2017
Where Women Rule
What's life like when women are in charge? Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women who've formed close ties with matriarchal communities in China and India, and who've gone onto document their experiences. Choo Waihong is a former high-flying lawyer from Singapore who quit her job to move to a remote part of China to live with the Mosuo tribe. This is one of the last matrilineal and matriarchal societies on earth. That means that the family descends from the female bloodline, and that women also hold the ultimate power in the community. Waihong ended up building a house among the Mosuo, and has written a book about her experiences called 'Kingdom of Women.' Karolin Klüppel is a German photographer who travelled to the remote north-east of India to get to know the Khasi people, who live in families where women inherit property, and children take the mother's name. Karolin was struck by the self-confidence of the young girls, and she set about making portraits of the children, which form part of her photo series, 'Mädchenland' or 'Kingdom of Girls.' Image and credit Choo Waihong (l) and Karolin Klueppel (r)
May 29, 2017
Being Open About Breast Cancer
'I will ride cancer; cancer will not ride me'. An Indian dancer and a Jamaican athlete who were diagnosed with breast cancer at the peak of their physical condition tell Kim Chakanetsa how they got through their treatment by focussing on their passions. Novlene Williams-Mills is an exceptional Jamaican sprinter who has competed - and won medals - in four Olympic Games. In 2012, just before the London Olympics, she found out she had breast cancer. Despite the diagnosis, she decided to compete, and helped Jamaica bring home a bronze medal in the 400 metre relay. Four surgeries later, she is cancer-free. Throughout her treatment Novlene continued to run because when she's on the track, she says all her problems disappear. Ananda Shankar Jayant is an award-winning Indian dancer and choreographer, known for her talent in two classical dance forms Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi. She says as soon as she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, she made a decision that she would not succumb to the 'bogeyman' of cancer, and would keep dancing, even through chemotherapy. By focussing on her what she loves to do, she says she was able to stay positive. Now also all-clear, Ananda continues to teach and perform dance, and recently launched a dance app called Natyarambha. L-Image: Novlene Williams-Mills. Credit: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images R-Image: Ananda Shankar Jayant. Credit: G Muralidhar
May 22, 2017
Female interpreters discuss being voices for vulnerable people. Kim Chakanetsa brings together two women, one who interprets for medical patients, and one who helps refugees apply for asylum. They talk about the pressures and the joys of what they say is an under-valued job. Teodora Manea Hauskeller is a Romanian who works as a medical interpreter in the UK, easing understanding between doctors and patients who don't speak English. She is present in the room when potentially scary diagnoses are being given, and says the responsibility and emotion of this kind of work can be quite tough, but it can also be very rewarding. Mariam Massarat is an Iranian-American interpreter, who specialises in translating for Farsi-speaking asylum seekers and refugees in the US. She gets to know her clients and puts them at their ease before they go into the asylum interview, and then she acts as their voice for up to six hours. If the interview is successful, and they are granted asylum, she loves to hear what they go on to do in their new lives. Image: Mariam Massarat (L) and Teodora Manea Hauskeller (R)
May 15, 2017
Perfume Makers
How do you capture and bottle a scent? Two perfume makers from France and Malaysia talk to Kim Chakanetsa about how they've trained their noses to smell over 1,000 different raw ingredients. They explain why a scent made for the European market wouldn't sell so well in Japan, and which smells they simply cannot stand. Shyamala Maisondieu is a fine fragrance perfumer originally from Malaysia, who now works for Givaudan in Paris, one of the world's largest perfume manufacturers. Shyamala says her childhood in south-east Asia influenced the scents she is drawn to, from frangipani blossoms to jasmine and ginger. She has dreamed up fragrances for brands such as Tom Ford and Comme des Garçons. Caroline Gaillardot is a perfumer who specialises in creating scents for beauty care products, including shampoos, shower gels and deodorants. She was born in Grasse, France, which has long been the centre of the perfume world, although she says she wanted to become a perfumer simply because she always loved to smell. She now works for Mane in southern France, which is one of the global leaders in the industry. L-Image and credit: Shyamala Maisondieu R-Image and credit: Caroline Gaillardot
May 08, 2017
What's it like to work closely with animals? Two women in charge of the day-to-day care of penguins and primates reveal the true nature of the job. They tell Kim Chakanetsa why it's best to avoid a penguin's beak, how chimps might respond to a leather jacket, and whether they think wild animals should be kept in captivity at all. Shanet Rutgers has the delightful job title 'Head of Penguins' at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, South Africa. Shanet first visited the aquarium as a child, and decided straightaway that she wanted to work there. She fondly describes the penguins as 'ridiculous animals' - and says feeding them has made her more considerate about her own diet. Shanet is passionate about the role of zoos and aquariums in educating the public about the natural world. Laura Hanley is Senior Keeper of Primates at Monarto Zoo in South Australia - one of the largest open-range zoos in the world. The animals are kept in large enclosures, and visitors are driven around the complex in vehicles. Laura is in charge of a troop of eight chimpanzees, each with its own distinct personality. Despite working closely with the chimps, Laura says its important to maintain your distance and keep a respect for the animals. She hopes they can play a role in raising awareness about the plight of chimps in the wild. (L) Image: Shanet Rutgers, Head of Penguins. Credit: n/a (R) Image: Laura Hanley, Senior Keepers of Primates. Credit: Nicky Tomkinson
May 01, 2017
Women in the Courtroom
Two women lawyers in Alabama who are making history in the courtroom in their own ways. Kim Chakanetsa meets them inside the famous federal courthouse in Montgomery, where historic civil rights rulings were made in the 1950's and 60's. At 28, Briana Westry-Robinson is Alabama's youngest ever female African-American judge. Graduating from high school at 16, and university at 19, Judge Westry-Robinson now presides over a district court in one of the poorest counties in Alabama. She says her age is an advantage in this job, because she can still identify with the juveniles who appear before her, and her aim where possible is to give them a second chance, rather than to punish. Danielle Ward Mason is an award-winning trial lawyer, who specialises in fighting cases where medical devices and drugs may be harmful to women. She is considered to be one of the top personal injury lawyers in the state, and has won some of the largest pay-outs for her clients in the country. Danielle had a baby at 19, and put her legal dreams on hold for a decade, but then decided to go for it, and now her advice for aspiring young women is 'don't ever say what you can't do'. Image: Danielle Ward Mason, presenter Kim Chakanetsa and Briana Westry-Robinson. Credit: United States Court for The Middle District of Alabama, USA
Apr 24, 2017
Asian American Authors
Two women who emigrated to the US from Asia and both became writers talk to guest presenter Lauren Schiller in San Francisco about their 'messy' relationship with language, their rejection of the American Dream, and how they're trying to break free from labels. Barbara Jane Reyes is a poet, whose work explores language, culture and identity. She was born in Manila in the Philippines, and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She started writing seriously as a student - when there were very few writers who were voicing her own immigrant experience. She now teaches Philippine Studies at the University of San Francisco and is the author of four books of poetry. She is due to publish her fifth collection, Invocation to Daughters, later this year. Yiyun Li is an award-winning writer. She grew up in Beijing, and moved to the US when she was in her early 20s to study immunology. It was after she had arrived in Iowa and adopted English as her own language that she decided to make the leap from science to creative writing. She has published four works of fiction, and numerous essays. Her latest book is called 'Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life' and it was written while she grappled with depression and was finding solace in other writers. Yiyun teaches creative writing at UC Davis. Image: Barbara Jane Reyes (left) (credit: Oscar Bermeo) and Yiyun Li (right) (credit: Roger Turesson)
Apr 17, 2017
Sexuality And The City
LGBT women from different generations in San Francisco talk to guest presenter Lauren Schiller about their sexuality, the city and the changes they've seen in society over the years. Kate Kendell has been described as America's 'Head Lesbian'. She is Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which fights for the legal rights of LGBT people. She grew up in a Mormon family in Utah, and says that when she moved to San Francisco in 1994 her life went 'from monochrome to Kodachrome.' Kate was heavily involved for the fight for equal marriage in California, and married her own long-time partner Sandy in 2008. They have three children. Robyn Exton founded a dating app for lesbian, bisexual and queer women in London in 2013, but two years ago she relocated to San Francisco to be closer to her investors. She also relaunched the app under the name Her - and it's now available in 55 countries. For Robyn, San Francisco has much to offer as a tech hub, but less in terms of the nightlife and parties she enjoys. She says the city is no longer the gay mecca it once was - and she is sad about the demise of the lesbian bar. Image: (L) Robyn Exton. Credit: Helena Price. Image: (R) Kate Kendell. Credit: NCLR.
Apr 10, 2017
My Son Was Shot
Two mothers who lost their sons to gun violence meet up with Kim Chakanetsa in New York. This is the first of a month-long series of Conversations with women in the United States, from Alabama to San Francisco. Nicole Hockley's son Dylan was six when an armed man burst into Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, killing 26 children and adults. It remains the deadliest school shooting in US history. Nicole says the fabric of the universe was torn apart that day and she has been trying to repair it ever since. Her organisation Sandy Hook Promise is now spreading school violence prevention programmes nationwide. She says these are "not about the gun" - they are about trying to stop the violence before guns are ever involved. Just a few weeks before the tragedy at Sandy Hook, Lucy McBath's 17-year-old son Jordan Davis was shot dead at a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida. Jordan was African American and the shooter was a middle-aged white man. Lucy believes race and America's gun laws both played their part in her child's murder, and she now speaks out in his memory. She is faith and outreach leader for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and Every Town for Gun Safety. Image: (L) Lucy McBath and (R) Nicole Hockley Credit: n/a
Apr 03, 2017
Crime Writers
Two women trying to get into the mind of the serial killer talk to Kim Chakanetsa about the craft of crime fiction. We hear what they're most afraid of, how writing about grim subjects has altered their outlook on life and whether women are particularly good at this genre. Patricia Cornwell is probably the best known female crime writer in the world. Credited with creating the 'forensic thriller', Patricia has sold over 100 million books across the globe and recently published the 24th book in her hugely popular Kay Scarpetta series. Patricia has also long been fascinated by Jack the Ripper, the infamous Victorian serial killer, and has written her own account of his possible identity. Angela Makholwa is a former South African journalist who first got into crime writing after interviewing the real-life serial killer, Moses Sithole, in prison. Her debut novel Red Ink was loosely based on those experiences. She says the role of the writer is to confront the things we all want to run away from. She has since written two more novels and says she enjoys reading crime fiction from Scandinavia, given that she writes about such a radically different part of the world. Angela lives and works in Johannesburg. (L) Image: Patricia Cornwell. Credit: Patrick Ecclesine. (R) Image and credit: Angela Makholwa.
Mar 27, 2017
Models Breaking Boundaries
Models challenging perceptions of female beauty talk to Kim Chakanetsa about how the industry is becoming more diverse, why they decided to take up modelling in the first place, and how to maintain that all-important inner confidence. Alex Bruni, originally from Italy, did not start modelling until she was in her late 40s. It was when people began to compliment her on her long, grey hair that she first decided to give it a go. Now nearly 60, she has a successful career as an older model and is keen to put a positive spin on ageing. She tells us to 'embrace the grey'. Mahalia Handley describes herself as a plus-size or curvy model. As a mixed-race, 'chubby' child in small-town Australia, Mahalia rarely saw images of women who resembled her. But she was determined to become a model. Now, aged 24, she has worked for the likes of Vogue, Selfridges and Cosmopolitan. She hopes to be the role model that she never had. Image: (L) Alex Bruni. Credit: Wendy Carrig. Image: (R) Mahalia Handley. Credit: Pepo Fernandez.
Mar 20, 2017
Strong Women
Two of the strongest women in the world join Kim Chakanetsa to explain what it's like to be able to out-lift most men. Kristin Rhodes has muscled her way to America's Strongest Woman status seven times. A mother and child-care provider from San Diego, for the last decade she has reigned supreme nationally, and has set three women's world records for strength. When she started out, she was competing in parking lots and winning just a handshake - now she performs in big venues to huge crowds. Kristin is proud to have been instrumental in getting the women's game the recognition she believes it deserves, and to have inspired other women to become stronger themselves. Andrea Thompson is a relative newcomer to strength competitions, having only started weight-lifting two years ago when a coach spotted her in the gym in Suffolk. She's already been declared Britain's Strongest Woman and is hoping to add more medals this year. Andrea says she has always been big, and initially began exercising to lose weight after having her children, but now she has so much muscle she weighs more than she did before. However, finding out the feats her body is capable of has amazed her, and she now loves her larger build. (L) Image: Kristin Rhodes. Credit: Strongman Corporation. (R) Image: Andrea Thompson. Credit: Strongman Corporation.
Mar 13, 2017
Make-up Artists
Two leading female make-up artists speak to Kim Chakanetsa on the power of powder to create looks, moods and characters. Alex Box is a British internationally-renowned fashion make-up artist. Her work is artistic, colourful and unique. Alex's background is in fine art, and she uses that as an inspiration to constantly push the boundaries of her work. Charu Khurana is the first official female make-up artist in Bollywood. She spent years fighting against an informal ban on women working in the film industry across India. Charu is now one of the few professionals in her field to be trained in handling prosthetics. Image: (L) Charu Khurana (credit: N/A) and (R) Alex Box (credit: Elizabeth Hoff)
Mar 06, 2017
Talented women cricketers from the West Indies and New Zealand chat to Kim Chakanetsa about how they've gone from playing cricket with the boys as kids to record-breaking achievements with their teams. Merissa Aguilleira is from Trinidad and plays for the West Indies women's side. As well as a six year stint as team captain, Merissa contributed to their success in becoming Twenty20 World Champions in 2016. Her achievements seem all the more impressive when you realise that she only started playing 'real' cricket at 16, and initially her instinct was to run away from the hard ball! She talks about the importance of breaking down stereotypes by being unafraid to boast about women's achievements. Sophie Devine is Vice Captain of the White Ferns, New Zealand's women's team. She also plays in the Australian Women's Big Bash League, and says the popularity of women's cricket there is going through the roof. As a Type 1 diabetic, Sophie says her condition has never been a barrier to sporting success, and she truly believes in the power of sport to change lives. (L) Sophie Devine (credit: Stefan Gosatti/Getty Images) and (R) Merissa Aguilleira (WICB Media/Randy Brooks of Brooks Latouche Photography)
Feb 27, 2017
Women who make wine in Argentina and Italy talk to Kim Chakanetsa about the labour and love that goes into a great glass of wine. Susana Balbo has been making a name for herself in the wine world for over 30 years. She was the first woman in Argentina to graduate with a degree in winemaking, and in 1999 she launched her own label in her hometown, Mendoza. She was also the first woman president of Wines of Argentina, an organisation that promotes the country's wine industry to a global market. Today she produces 3.5 million bottles per year - almost all of which are destined for the export market. She explains how she produces high-quality wines at high altitude, and in a challenging desert climate. Julia Walch is part of a matriarchy of winemakers in the South Tyrol in Northern Italy. Julia grew up on the family estate, but never thought she would enter the wine world herself - that is until she went away to study, and felt the pull of the vineyard. Aged just 26, she took over the Elena Walch company together with her younger sister. Each year they make about 550,000 bottles of wine. Julia says her mother is still on hand for advice, though she's grateful that she's been given free reign to pursue her own ideas. Image: (L) Susana Balbo (no credit) and (R) Julia Walch (credit: Florian Jaenicke)
Feb 20, 2017
Female stars of YouTube in India and the US swap tips for success with Kim Chakanetsa. Shruti Arjun Anand was a 'computer geek' who developed a passion for make-up and beauty, and decided to vlog about it for an Indian audience. She is now a top online video star in her country, and one of her most popular videos is how to make a pimple disappear overnight. Shruti's personal life features too - she kept a pregnancy vlog and also discusses topics like how to deal with the pressure on Indian women to have a baby in the first place. Evelyn Ngugi is Kenyan-American and vlogs from Texas under the alias 'Evelyn from the Internets'. She started out talking about natural hair and has expanded into funny monologues and interviews about race, gender and culture. 2016 was a very special year because when she posted an enthusiastic review of the album Lemonade, Beyonce spotted it and Evelyn found herself projected onto a big screen during the singer's worldwide tour. Image and credit: (L) Shruti Arjun Ananda. Image and credit:(R) Evelyn Ngugi.
Feb 13, 2017
Glossy Magazines
What does it take to run a glossy magazine? Two editors speak to Kim Chakanetsa about celebrities, gossip and the power of true life stories. Betty Irabor launched her magazine, Genevieve, in Lagos 13 years ago, with the aim of inspiring other women to believe in themselves. Her publication is described as Nigeria's leading inspirational and lifestyle magazine. She's even got her daughter involved, first as a teen columnist, now as Assistant Editor. She says that in recent years the website has become more important than the printed edition. But it's still the Lagos elite that set the trends in her fashion pages. Mamen Sanchez Perez is editor of Hola Mexico and deputy editor of Hola Spain, both part of the Hello Magazine family. She shares her memories of her grandparents, who first launched Hola Magazine in Barcelona in the 1940s, with the aim of bringing more respect and integrity to the gossip pages. That family ethos carries through to the present day - and Mamen's grandmother still plays an active role in the business. Image: (L) Betty Irabor and (R) Mamen Sanchez Perez Credit: (L) Genevieve Magazine and (R) no credit
Feb 06, 2017
Forced Marriage
Two women who've escaped forced marriage and now fight for the rights of other victims talk to Maryam Maruf about how they've coped after being ostracised by their families. Most people look forward to their wedding day: not Jasvinder Sanghera. She grew up in a large Sikh family in Derby, UK and was set to marry a much older man. Instead, aged just 16, she ran away from her home. Her family disowned her - and refused her attempts at reconciliation. As a response, Jasvinder went on to found Karma Nirvana, a charity which supports victims of forced marriage and honour-based violence. Fraidy Reiss didn't even have her own bank account when she left an abusive marriage at the age of 32. She'd been brought up in an insular Orthodox Jewish community in New York, and did not feel she had any real choice in who she married. When she left her husband she had to turn her back on her whole life. She set up a new home with her daughters, and decided to help other women from all different religious and cultural backgrounds to escape forced marriage. Her organisation is called Unchained at Last. (L) Image: Fraidy Reiss. Credit: Julie N Samuels. (R) Image: Jasvinder Sanghera. Credit: Karma Nirvana.
Jan 30, 2017
Tour Guides
Women who have opened up new horizons for tourists, in the sunny western cape of South Africa and the high mountain trails of Nepal. Laura Ndukwana runs popular tours of two townships in Cape Town. She grew up and still lives in Gugulethu township, and believes that tourists should see both sides of this beautiful city, which contains very rich and very poor areas. Her tours involve walking and meeting local people, cooking for school children and attending a traditional gospel service on a Sunday. Laura says she guards against so-called 'poverty tourism' by keeping the groups small, and briefing them carefully to ensure there is respect for local residents. She also says there is a black middle-class in the townships that tourists are often surprised to see. Lucky Chhetri and her two sisters started the first women-only trekking guide business in Pokhara, Nepal. Initially they ran all the treks themselves but have now gone on to train over 1,000 local women to be guides. They have faced many challenges as outdoor work is not traditionally seen as suitable for women - and male competitors would have gladly seen them go out of business. However they have gone from strength to strength and Lucky still enjoys leading treks herself. She says a good guide understands their client and how to make a trip fun and memorable for them. Kim Chakanetsa asks Lucky and Laura how they started out, what they have learned and what they enjoy most about their work. (Photo: Tour guides Lucky Chhetri (L) and Laura Ndukwana (R) courtesy of Lucky and Laura)
Jan 23, 2017
Schools for Girls
Two women fighting to educate girls in Afghanistan and Kenya talk to Emily Webb about the ingenious ideas they've come up with to deal with opposition from men in the community. Imagine searching classrooms for bombs before the start of every school day: that's the reality for Razia Jan who decided to open a school for girls in a village in rural Afghanistan. Razia had lived a comfortable life in the US for over 30 years, but after the fall of the Taliban, she decided to return to her home country, and was shocked by what she saw. Despite strong local opposition, she is now educating hundreds of girls who were previously denied any schooling. Kakenya Ntaiya dreamt of becoming a teacher, but she had to make an unimaginable deal with her father to stay in education. She went onto gain a PhD in education, and having graduated, she returned to her own Maasai village in Kenya to set up a primary boarding school for girls. She hopes that her students will be the leaders and decision-makers of the future. (L) Image: Kakenya Ntaiya. Credit; Kakenya's Center for Excellence. (R) Image: Razia Jan. Credit: Razia's Ray of Hope.
Jan 16, 2017
Two world-renowned pianists from Venezuela and Georgia talk to Kim Chakanetsa about their personal and musical journeys. Gabriela Montero grew up in Venezuela and could pick out a tune on a toy piano before she could speak. She made her concert debut aged eight and has gone on to become an award-winning and best-selling performer, who played at the inauguration of President Obama in 2009. Gabriela now lives in Spain but in recent years has begun to compose her own music, and is using her artistic voice to highlight the terrible problems facing her native Venezuela. Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili began her musical studies at the age of three. Hailed as a child prodigy she began touring internationally aged 10, and hasn't stopped since. However she says she was never pressured to have a career in music - it's simply what she loves to do. As well as gaining a reputation for a dramatic playing style, Khatia's revealing outfits have also attracted attention. She says she will continue to wear what she wants on stage, and that these comments are attempts to belittle her intellect and musical talent by focusing on her image. (Photo: (L) Khatia Buniatishvili. Credit Gavin Evans, and (R) Gabriela Montero. Credit Shelley Mosman)
Jan 09, 2017
Alone at Sea
Steering a small boat across oceans by yourself - why do it? Kim Chakanetsa meets two women who have been alone at sea for months - and they chat about encountering sharks, avoiding pirates and having to call their mums. Roz Savage is the first woman to have rowed solo across three oceans - the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian. She had no background as an adventurer and in fact was a UK management consultant for years, but in her 30s she decided to do something completely different with her life. Roz says rowing the Atlantic was a huge struggle physically and mentally, but afterwards she wanted to put herself in even more challenging situations to see if she could do it, and to raise awareness about sustainability. Australian Jessica Watson sailed around the world when she was just 16, battling storms and isolation, but also fierce criticism from those who thought she was too young. On her return after 210 days she was greeted by the Prime Minister and tens of thousands of people, and was later named Young Australian of the Year. Jessica says she did it partly to prove that young people, and young girls, can be serious and achieve incredible things, and they should not be dismissed. (Photo: (L) Roz Savage sat in her row boat. Credit: Phil Uhl and (R) Jessica Watson stood on her yacht. Credit: Sam Rosewarne)
Jan 02, 2017
Musical Theatre
Treading the boards with two musical theatre directors from Nigeria and Pakistan. Kim Chakanetsa discusses the hunt for local talent, the emotional journey of opening night and running a tight ship in rehearsals. Nigerian theatre director and producer Bolanle Austen Peters has re-ignited Nigeria's passion for their culture through her highly successful musicals focused on local stories using local stars. She says "The talent is latent, people have it but they just need the right platform to bring it out and the individual who's going to push them". And Bolanle has done just that through her production company Terra Kulture. Nida Butt is a theatre director, producer and choreographer from Pakistan and is responsible for revolutionising the Pakistani musical theatre scene by introducing live music and orchestras to the stage. She is the owner of Made for Stage theatre productions which has put on performances from Grease! to Nida's own original production of Karachi the Musical. Nida says "We were teaching ourselves, learning ourselves, and doing it ourselves". Image: (L) Nida Butt and (R) Bolanle Austen Peters, Credit: Nida Butt (n/a) and Bolanle Austen Peters (Reze Bonna)
Dec 26, 2016
Divorce Lawyers
Sorting out the messy business of divorce, in France and India. Veronique Chauveau is a divorce lawyer based in Paris, where she's been practising for more than 30 years. The bulk of her work is with the rich and famous, but she also finds time for a 'reality check' through taking on international child abduction cases. And she is an undisputed expert in jam making! Vandana Shah is a divorce lawyer in Mumbai. She learnt about divorce the hard way, when she was thrown out of the family home, and spent the next 10 years battling to get a divorce. During that time she got herself a law degree, and she is now one of the foremost lawyers at the family court in Mumbai. She regularly writes for The Huffington Post, and her memoirs are called The Ex-Files. She also started 360 Degrees Back to Life, India's first support group for people going through a divorce. (L-Image & credit: Vandana Shah. R-Image & credit: Veronique Chauveau.)
Dec 19, 2016
Space Scientists
Space Scientists from the UAE and the UK discuss the missions they're involved in and what they mean to them. Sarah Amiri is the lead scientist for the UAE's Mars Mission. Their plan is to send an unmanned spacecraft, the 'Hope', to reach Mars in 2021, where it will provide unprecedented data on the Martian climate, and also send a message to the youth of the region that there are paths available to them in science, rather than radicalism. Sarah says the people working on the Hope mission are all under 35, and 34% of them are women. Monica Grady is a prominent British space scientist, known for her work on Beagle 2 and the international Rosetta mission, which aimed to find out where life on Earth came from. In 2014, when the robot probe Philae successfully landed on a comet, a video of Monica's hugely excited reaction went viral on the internet. She says it's no wonder she was so happy - this mission had been part of her life for 30 years. Image: (LHS) Sarah Amiri and (RHS) Monica Grady Credit: n/a
Dec 12, 2016
Finding the funny in feminism
Feminism is not known for being funny but we're hoping to change that on The Conversation this week as two feminist stand up comedians go head to head to explore the funny in feminism. They are Aditi Mittal, one of India's top stand-up comedians today and Zahra Noorbakhsh, one half of the internationally acclaimed podcast #GoodMuslimBadMuslim. Also starring a live studio audience of young and alarmingly intelligent people. This programme was part of the BBC's 100 Women Season. (L) Image: Zahra Noorbakhsh, Credit: Harsh Mall. (R) Image and credit: Aditi Mittal.
Dec 05, 2016
Speech Writer to the President
Two women who get inside Presidents' heads, tell Kim Chakanetsa how they turn their bosses' thoughts and ideas into powerful oratory. Sarada Peri is Special Assistant and Senior Speechwriter to President Obama. She says a good speech writer is like a ghost, and that her job is really to inhabit the President's mind on any given topic. For her, the goal isn't to emulate what he sounds like, it's to understand how he thinks. This is then represented on the page or teleprompter; with Sarada ever conscious that a single line from any one of his speeches could be lifted out of context and tweeted around the world in seconds. When the first female President of the Republic of Kosovo came into office in 2011, it was Garentina Kraja who she turned to for her speech writing prowess, as well as her policy expertise. Together Garentina and President Jahjaga wrote a speech about the women who were raped in Kosovo during the war, and who felt they'd been ignored and forgotten since. It helped to change the whole national conversation on the subject. Garentina passionately believes in the power of words and story-telling to persuade hearts and minds. Image: (LHS) Sarada Peri speechwriter to President Obama and (RHS) Garentina Kraja speechwriter to the former President of the Republic of Kosovo Credit: N/A
Nov 28, 2016
An Extraordinary Meeting Between Two Former Hostages
In 2002, the French Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt became perhaps one of the best-known hostages in the world when she was kidnapped and held for over six years, deep in the Colombian jungle, by the Farc or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Watching Ingrid's emotional release on TV in 2008, was a young Canadian journalist called Amanda Lindhout. A month later she herself was taken hostage at gun-point, on a work trip to Somalia. For the 460 days of Amanda's captivity, she thought about Ingrid nearly every day, inspired by the thought that she too could one day end her ordeal. This is the first time they have spoken to each other. (Photo: Amanda Lindhout (L). Credit: Steve Carty. (R) Ingrid Betancourt. Credit: Barker Evans)
Nov 21, 2016
Investigative Reporters: Khadija Ismayilova and Sacha Pfeiffer
Azeri journalist Khadija Ismayilova became the subject of an international release campaign last year when she was arrested and detained by her government, and her cause was taken up by human rights lawyer Amal Clooney. Khadija had been delving into the President's family businesses, and published allegations of extensive embezzlement of oil funds. She spent 18 months in prison before being given early release in May 2016, but says she is determined to continue her investigations. Sacha Pfeiffer is an American newspaper journalist and was a member of the now world-renowned 'Spotlight' team on the Boston Globe. She and her colleagues spent years building up evidence and personal testimony of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests, and the systematic cover-up of this by the Church. The resulting story caused shock-waves when it was published and the investigation was dramatised in the film Spotlight, which won the Best Film Oscar in 2016. Sacha was played by Rachel McAdams. (L) Photo: Khadija Ismayilova. Credit: Aziz Karimov. (R) Photo and credit: Sacha Pfeiffer.
Nov 14, 2016
Ballroom Dancers: Oti Mabuse and Alex Hixson
Get your dancing shoes on because this week Kim Chakanetsa brings together two supremely talented ballroom dancers who between them have a pile of trophies. We talk about the glamour, romance, athleticism and also the rivalries, injuries and tears that go on behind the scenes. South African dancer Oti Mabuse has been Latin American dance champion in South Africa eight times and she is currently gracing UK screens as a professional dancer on the popular reality TV show Strictly Come Dancing. When she started ballroom dancing was a very divided activity, "We were the only black family doing Latin and ballroom, I was young, I was four and cute, but for my sisters it was extremely difficult." More recently, things have changed, she says "It's not about where you come from or what you look like, it's about what you do and what you deliver." Alex Hixson is from the UK and has been a World Champion bronze medallist and an International Professional Rising Star Champion. Her favourite dance is the foxtrot. Alex started dancing aged 6, "before 'Strictly', so before ballroom dancing was cool. I saw a poster and told my mum that I want to do ballroom and Latin dancing and she said why? That's what old people do." Image: Alex Hixson (Credit: John Sinclair) and Oti Mabuse (Credit: BBC)
Nov 07, 2016
Child Stars: Mandisa Nakana Taylor and Mara Wilson
Can you beat the so-called 'curse' of the child performer? Maryam Maruf brings together two women who grew up on camera - the American star of the films Matilda and Mrs Doubtfire, and a South African youth TV presenter. At six years old Mara Wilson was playing Robin Williams's daughter in Mrs Doubtfire, then she bagged the leading role in the film version of Roald Dahl's Matilda. For a few years she was the cutest little girl in Hollywood. Then as she hit puberty and did not become classically 'pretty', she discovered that the parts simply dried up. Mara chose not to re-enter the limelight as an adult, and is a writer and storyteller in New York. She's written a memoir called 'Where Am I Now?' Mandisa Nakana Taylor shot to fame in South Africa aged 10, as one of a multi-racial cast of young presenters on the kids' show YOTV. For six years children raced home after school and watched her grow up on their televisions. Mandisa says it was great fun, and there were a lot of first kisses on set, but they were also expected to maintain an adult work ethic. Now a mother and student in the UK, she still appears on screen, this time on her own YouTube channel. (Photo: (L) Mandisa Nakana Taylor. Credit: Vanity Studios. (R) Mara Wilson. Credit: Ari Scott)
Oct 31, 2016
Graffiti Artists: Lady Pink and Olga Alexopoulou
How do you feel about graffiti and street art? Is it a democratic form of creative expression, or an eyesore, a public nuisance, that gets your blood boiling? These are questions that Kim Chakanetsa puts to her two guests today. Olga Alexopoulou lives in Turkey but is originally from Greece. She has a master's degree in Fine Art from Oxford University but she likes to paint on walls, big walls. She is responsible for the biggest mural in Greece, all 350 square metres of it. Street art has been very visible during the recent crises in both Turkey and Greece and while Olga's work promotes peace she has also had to face down her critics. Lady Pink has been described as "the first lady of graffiti". She was born in Ecuador but made a name for herself across New York by literally spray painting her name on the city's subway trains. She was one of very few women on the scene in the late '70s. She used to dress as a boy to avoid unwanted attention. Three decades on, she is now one of the leading figures in the street art scene. (Photo: Olga Alexopoulou (L). Credit: Yannis Bournias. (R) Lady Pink. Credit: Lauren Thomas)
Oct 24, 2016
The Scientists at The Crick
When you are involved in the race to shed light on some of our biggest scientific questions, does your gender matter? Kim Chakanetsa brings together two successful female life scientists at the new world-leading Crick Institute in London. They are both leading ground-breaking research in their respective fields, and are joined by young women from Camden School for Girls who are considering a career in science. Dr Vivian Li grew up in Hong Kong and completed her PhD there, and says it was only when she went on to conduct research in Europe that she noticed any gender divide in science. She found that male colleagues did not take her expertise seriously as a young woman, and so she had to work twice as hard to prove herself. Vivian now leads a molecular biotechnology research team, and is pioneering a technique to create human intestines in the lab, to then transplant back into patients. She says she used to work seven days a week, but since having a family she has learnt to prioritise her work differently and get her weekends back. British virologist Dr Kate Bishop's research focuses on HIV and other retro-viruses, and she hopes her work could contribute to stopping HIV in its tracks at an earlier stage. Kate was the first in her family to go to university, and says she was always encouraged by her parents, who never put boundaries on her ambition. Leading a research group means she is less likely to be sitting at the bench conducting an experiment herself, but she now gets the satisfaction of passing her knowledge on to the next generation of scientists. (Photo: The Conversation team and guests at The Crick Institute, London)
Oct 17, 2016
Nuns: Mother Hildegarde and Sister Tracy Kemme
Kim Chakanetsa is in candid and intimate conversation with two women who have made the life altering decision to enter a religious order. Mother Hildegarde is a nun in a silent, cloistered Catholic convent that overlooks London's Hyde Park. Originally from Australia, she entered religious life at 35, giving up her family, friends and name. She says she wanted to wear a habit, but found obeying the monastic 'rule' very hard to begin with, and as a self-confessed chatterbox she also really struggled with not talking! Fifteen years on she is comfortable leading a life spent in prayer and contemplation, and says although this life involves sacrifice, it is worth it. Sister Tracy Kemme is 30 and took 'first vows' with the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati in the US last year. Tracy made the heart-wrenching decision to break up with the love of her life to pursue her vocation, because even though he was everything she wanted, she realised that still was not enough for her. She says that society portrays religious life as giving up a lot of things. "I think people have unease with the fact that we don't have sex. We take a vow of celibacy, we take a vow of poverty and a vow of obedience and that's pretty counter cultural. But who would do that if that's what it's really all about?". (Photo: Mother Hildegarde (L) and (R) Sister Tracy Kemme)
Oct 10, 2016
Domestic Workers: Marissa Begonia and Siphokazi Mdlankomo
Siphokazi Mdlankomo comes from South Africa and Marissa Begonia from the Philippines but they have plenty in common. They have both dedicated a great deal of their lives to taking care of other people's households and children. They are Kim Chakanetsa's guests on this programme and they are discussing life as a domestic worker. Marissa Begonia left her three young children to work overseas. It was a tough decision for her but she couldn't bear to see them going hungry at home in the Philippines. She found work initially in Hong Kong and then Singapore and finally London. Her choice has worked out for her, after years of providing for her children back home, she was finally able to bring them to join her in London. But the separation has taken its toll on all of them, and so has the work. Melissa has seen and heard of so much mistreatment among domestic workers that she decided to set up an organisation to protect the rights and welfare of others in her profession. The organisation is called Justice for Domestic Workers. Until very recently Siphokazi Mdlankomo was working for a family in Johannesburg, South Africa but she's had to leave her job to focus full time on her new role on television and writing cookery books. She came to fame when she was runner-up in the South African reality TV show Master Chef. Her cooking has come a long way since she started her working life. She looks back fondly at the young Siphokazi, just starting out in her career, back then, she didn't know what garlic was, or fresh herbs or how to make a piece of toast. Siphokazi and Marissa share their intimate, moving and sometimes funny stories of running someone else's household. (Photo: Marissa Begonia (L) and (R) Siphokazi Mdlankomo)
Oct 03, 2016
Jazz Musicians: Melissa Aldana and Nomfundo Xaluva
Growing up in Santiago Melissa Aldana learnt to play the tenor saxophone or 'horn' at her father's knee, though he took some convincing that she would stick with it. She did, and went on to become the first ever female instrumentalist to win the prestigious Thelonious Monk Jazz Award in 2013. Melissa is now the leader of a successful jazz trio based in New York, and loves her work, but is concerned that a musician's life on the road will be hard to square with starting a family when the time comes. South African musician Nomfundo Xaluva is winning awards for putting a new twist on her country's very strong jazz tradition. As well as singing and composing, Nomfundo says she is one of very few female black pianists in South Africa, and so feels responsible for being a role model to young girls. Being Xhosa, from the Eastern Cape, music forms a huge part of her culture, and she tries to incorporate this into her work, often singing in her mother tongue. Nomfundo reckons jazz is slowly becoming hip again, and she is excited to be a part of that. L-Photo: Melissa Aldana. R-Photo: Nomfundo Xaluva.
Sep 26, 2016
Standing up to Bullying: Zainab Chughtai and Lauren Paul
Kim Chakanetsa meets two women who are taking on the challenge of combating bullying in Pakistan and the US. Zainab Chughtai says the bullying she endured as a young girl inspired her to go into schools to try and stop other school children experiencing what she did. The emotional impact was so severe on Zainab, she says it's affected her personal relationships as an adult. Her campaign, Bully Proof, travels across Pakistan providing workshops to school children which create a safe space for them to open up about bullying - whether they are the victim, or the perpetrator. Lauren Paul was the target of bullying by a group of girls at school in California. It was so traumatic it led to depression, an eating disorder and even an attempt to take her own life. She says every single woman can recall a moment when their relationship with other girls had a negative effect on them. This is why she co-founded 'Kind Campaign', an organisation which goes into schools across the US working with girls of all ages in the hopes of spreading a positive message, and stamping out girl-against-girl bullying. (Photo: Left to right, Zainab Chughtai. Credit: Hamza Bajwa. Lauren Paul. Credit: Brandon Kidd)
Sep 19, 2016
Hair Stylists: Sapna Bhavnani and Charlotte Mensah
Sapna Bhavnani is one of India's most celebrated hair stylists and is known for her own cropped hair and tattoos. Her Mumbai based salon, Mad-O-Wat, is the go-to place for Bollywood's A-list when their hair needs some attention. Clients include actors, politicians and sports stars like Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Sapna says her hair appointments can often turn into therapy sessions as her clients want to get their problems off their chest when they're sitting in her chair. Charlotte Mensah developed a passion for hair styling while she looked after her little sister's hair after their mother died. Charlotte, who has twice been named British Afro Hairdresser of the Year, (by the British Hairdressing Awards) grew up in Ghana and moved to London when she was 11 years old. She goes back and forth to Accra and says it gives her a lot of inspiration for the styles she creates in the Hair Lounge, her Portobello Road salon, which specialises in afro hair. Charlotte promotes natural hair and says women are embracing this look. Photo: (L)-Sapna Bhavnani. Credit: Sheetal Sherekar. (R) Charlotte Mensah. Credit: John Rawson.
Sep 12, 2016
Making Sex Work Safer: Daisy Nakato and Catherine Healy
Two women whose aim is to make sex work safer in Uganda and New Zealand join Kim Chakanetsa to exchange experiences. Daisy Nakato is the founder of WONETHA, a sex workers' rights and support organisation in Kampala, Uganda. She says she chose to go into sex work at 17, but did face many challenges including violence from clients and running from the police. She is now building a better relationship with the police, which she hopes will lead to a reduction in violence against sex workers, but for her decriminalisation is the ultimate goal. Daisy is also HIV positive, and her project encourages sex workers to get tested and then supports them in controlling the spread of the disease. New Zealander Catherine Healy went from teaching in a school to sex work in a massage parlour in her thirties. She says this was an empowering choice for her, but she was appalled at the lack of any protections for her profession, which was then illegal. So she formed the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective and led a long campaign to decriminalise all forms of sex work. This law was passed in 2003 and gives full employment rights to sex workers, and Catherine says the police are now partners in keeping sex workers safe.
Sep 05, 2016