300 episodes

Global experts and decision makers discuss, debate and analyse a key news story.

The Real Story BBC World Service

    • Government
    • 5.0 • 2 Ratings

Global experts and decision makers discuss, debate and analyse a key news story.

    Is it getting any easier for women in politics?

    Is it getting any easier for women in politics?

    Jacinda Ardern’s resignation as New Zealand’s PM this month came as a surprise to millions around the world. When she came to office in 2017, she stuck out as a contrast to populist leaders that dominated the global scene at the time. To some, she was a progressive female icon. She had to contend with intense public scrutiny throughout her journey, from announcing her pregnancy just months after taking office to her decision to take six weeks of maternity leave, which sparked debate on whether it was too short. Former prime minister Helen Clark, New Zealand’s first female elected leader, said Ardern faced “unprecedented” attacks during her tenure.

    Only 26% of the world’s politicians are women. The three most commonly held portfolios by women ministers are still: Family, children and youth.

    So what are the challenges of being a woman at the top of politics? Are female political leaders under more scrutiny than men? And what can be done to encourage more women into top roles in government?

    Paul Henley is joined by a panel of experts:

    Rosie Campbell, professor of politics and Director of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at Kings College, London.

    Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand.

    Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia and winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize.

    Also featuring Ruth Davidson, former leader of the Scottish Conservative Party.

    Photo: New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addresses the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia, July 7, 2022. Dean Lewins/Pool via REUTERS

    Producers: Pandita Lorenz and Ellen Otzen

    • 48 min
    Has Germany been holding back the war effort in Ukraine?

    Has Germany been holding back the war effort in Ukraine?

    Russia's invasion of Ukraine has led to one of the biggest shifts ever seen in Germany's post-war foreign policy. Vladimir Putin managed to achieve what NATO allies spent years trying to: a massive increase in Germany's military spending and a commitment to NATO's spending target of 2% of GDP. As the conflict escalated, Germany's longstanding relations with Russia cooled, there was an end to Russian energy imports and Germany began sending some weapons direct to Ukraine.

    But back home Germans remain deeply divided about investing in their military given the long and painful shadow cast by the World Wars. A strand of pacifism has become deeply woven into German society and there are strong threads running through many of the political parties in power, including Chancellor Olaf Scholz's party, the Social Democratic Party.

    This week defence ministers meet at the military base in Ramstein in Germany to discuss what they will do next in Ukraine. Chancellor Scholz is under increasing international pressure to give the go-ahead for German-made battle tanks to be sent to Ukraine.

    So will the German Chancellor do what many of his Western allies want or will he continue to favour diplomacy in an effort to avoid provoking Vladimir Putin further? And, if Europe cannot agree, what does this mean for the future of European security and the EU project as a whole?

    Photo: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz looks at weapons during a visit to a military base of the German army Bundeswehr in Bergen, Germany, in October 2022. Credit: REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer


    Producers: Ellen Otzen and Pandita Lorenz

    • 49 min
    Prince Harry: Dealing with grief in the public eye

    Prince Harry: Dealing with grief in the public eye

    Prince Harry's bombshell memoir, Spare, leaves few royal stones unturned. From a physical confrontation with his brother Prince William to his own drug taking, one of the threads that runs through all of these startling revelations is the long shadow that the sudden death of his mother, Princess Diana, cast when he was only 12.

    Prince Harry claims he never properly dealt with - or was helped to deal with - his profound grief. In his memoir he claims he only cried once after his mother’s death and was never hugged by his father on the day he found out.

    The Royals have, so far, not commented on any of the book’s revelations but how hard is it to deal with bereavement and grief in the public eye? What do Prince Harry’s recollections tell us about his experience of dealing with grief in this unique family or the modern world more generally? Does privilege help or hinder the process? What role has the media played? And, ultimately, is there ever a right way to deal with grief?

    Ritula Shah is joined by a panel of experts:

    Catherine Mayer is a writer, activist and the co-founder of the Women's Equality Party. She is also the author of Good Grief: Embracing life at a time of death published in 2020 and Charles: The Heart of a King published in 2015 but both with newly update material.

    Dr Elaine Kasket is a psychologist, an expert on death, and author of All the Ghosts in the Machine: The Digital Afterlife of your Personal Data published in 2019

    Angela Levin is a journalist, royal commentator and biographer. Her books including Harry: Conversations with the Prince published in 2018 and Camilla: From Outcast to Queen Consort released last year.

    Credits: Spare by Prince Harry / Audible
    Bryony Gordon’s Mad World, a podcast by Telegraph Media Group Limited 2021

    Photo: Britain's Prince Harry follows the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II during her funeral procession in 2022.
    Credit: Stephane de Sakutin/Pool via REUTERS

    Producers: Alba Morgade and Pandita Lorenz

    • 49 min
    Andrew Tate: Why is misogyny so popular online?

    Andrew Tate: Why is misogyny so popular online?

    The arrest of controversial British-American influencer Andrew Tate in Romania as a part of a human trafficking and rape investigation has pulled his brand of online misogyny back into the headlines.

    Tate, who denies the allegations against him, is a former kickboxer who rose to fame in 2016 when he was removed from TV show Big Brother over a video which appeared to depict him attacking a woman. He claimed at the time that the video had been edited and was “a total lie”.

    He is among a group of influencers who have gained popularity - or notoriety - by advocating a lifestyle in which women are reduced to being subservient to men. The language can be harsh and explicit -- but the ideas appear to be gaining traction with a generation of teenagers and young men.

    Does the appeal of a more aggressive stance against women and equality suggest there is a crisis of masculinity? Has feminism made its claims at the expense of men?

    Or is this simply the effect of social media amplifying attitudes that have always existed?

    Ritula Shah is joined by a panel of experts:

    Richard Reeves - Senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Author of the book Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling, Why It Matters and What to Do About It (2022)

    Natasha Walter - Feminist writer and activist, author of several books, among them Living Dolls - The return of sexism

    Frank Furedi, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Kent
    Also featuring

    Sophia Smith Galer - Senior news reporter at Vice World News and author of the book 'Losing It: Sex Education for the 21st Century' (2022)

    Producers: Paul Schuster, Pandita Lorenz and Ellen Otzen.

    • 49 min
    A tough winter for Ukraine as Russia exploits the cold

    A tough winter for Ukraine as Russia exploits the cold

    As the war continues and winter sets in, Russia is targeting Ukraine's energy infrastructure with waves of missile and drone strikes, at times cutting off electricity for millions of civilians. How are the Ukrainian people coping? Does Ukraine’s military have enough weaponry and manpower to defeat the Russians? Or could the war become a more drawn-out conflict, with neither side capable of making a decisive breakthrough?



    Ritula Shah is joined by a panel of experts:



    Natalie Jaresko - Ukraine's minister for finance from 2014 – 2016. Currently chair of the Aspen Institute, Kyiv



    Kataryna Wolczuk - Associate fellow of Chatham House think tank’s Russia and Eurasia programme and professor of East European Politics at University of Birmingham



    Retired Major General Gordon ‘Skip’ Davis - NATO’s Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Defense Investment Division from 2018-2021.


    Also featuring : Alexei Sandakov, a resident of Kherson & Andrei Soldatov, a Russian investigative journalist and security expert

    Producers: Rumella Dasgupta and Ellen Otzen



    (Photo: A Ukrainian armored vehicle is seen on the streets in Bakhmut; Credit : Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

    • 49 min
    Are protests changing Iran?

    Are protests changing Iran?

    The anti-government protests sweeping Iran are now in their third month, with no sign of ending, despite a bloody crackdown. Women have been at the forefront of the unrest that began in mid-September following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who was detained by morality police for allegedly wearing her hijab, or headscarf, "improperly". The protests have spread to more than 150 cities and 140 universities in all 31 of the country's provinces and are seen as one of the most serious challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution. What are the protesters calling for? What is Iran’s leadership planning to do to end the unrest - and what does this mean for Iran’s relationship with its neighbours and with the West?

    Ritula Shah is joined by a panel of experts:

    Azadeh Moaveni - Iran expert, writer and associate professor of journalism at New York University.

    Esfandyar Batmanghelidj - founder and CEO of the Bourse & Bazaar economic thinktank specialising in the Middle East and Iran.

    Sanam Vakil - deputy director of Chatham House’s Middle East North Africa programme in London.

    Also featuring : Sadegh Zibakalam - writer and Professor of political science at the University of Tehran

    Producers : Ellen Otzen and Rumella Dasgupta

    (Photo: A woman in a street in Tehran, Iran; Credit: Majid Asgaripour/WANA via REUTERS)

    • 48 min

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