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'.
L - Dr Joia Crear-Perry Credit: Comcast Newsmakers
R - Image & credit: Dr Maria Helena Bastos
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)
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.
L - Frances O'Grady Credit: Jess Hurd
R - Rose Omamo Credit: Victor Mogoa
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)
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.
(L) Lynne Segal (credit Andy Hall/Getty Images)
(R) Isabel Allende (credit Lori Barra)