300 episodes

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

The Conversation BBC

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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.

    How to live alone

    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]

    • 27 min
    Women who love insects

    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)

    • 26 min
    Women in law

    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)

    • 26 min
    How to focus

    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]

    • 26 min
    Women running restaurants

    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)

    • 26 min
    Afrofuturism: Black women changing the sci-fi scene

    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)

    • 26 min

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