SEASON THREE: Let's Talk About Power
Are we experiencing the last gasp of the patriarchy? If so, what comes next?
Host Martha Chaves sparks ideas from Fahima Hashim and Nancy Ingram about transforming hierarchal patriarchal power structures embedded in some of our lives since childhood. “My mother was the boss of me, my father was the boss of her, and society was the boss of him,” Martha confesses. Sound familiar?
The guests are experienced, accomplished feminist activists brimming with ideas on what needs to be done. Fahima emphasizes collective structures and decisions by consensus. It’s not really a question of hierarchical structure, Nancy counters. “It’s how we relate to each other and what are the rules of engagement.”
Listen and decide what you think.
Feminism and Power
What would you do if a genie granted you absolute power? In episode two, host Martha Chaves poses that juicy question to her guests, activists Dildar Kaya in Iraq and Norwu Kolu Harris in Liberia.
Dildar works with ISIS survivors and Norwu in empowering women and girls. They examine the theme of feminism and power, identifying the qualities of good feminist leadership and workplace structure.
Martha, herself a professional comic, describes the evolution in the comedy world away from misogynistic and other mean humour.
She poses the ‘absolute power’ question more than halfway through, promising massages and ice cream for all when she’s in charge. Find out what Dildar and Norwu would do and enjoy answering the question yourself.
Ounaysa Abbas Arabi was among the women on the front lines of the 2019 revolution in Sudan. But the post-conflict promise of gender justice was merely a slogan used by men in power to attract international funds, she says. "They just want the money and they just put it into their pockets."
No matter how difficult, Musu Kamara of Liberia urges other young women to "rise up in spite of the challenges, in spite of the abuses, the social sanctions, the harmful traditional gender norms."
Both women counsel that change takes time. Witnessing, in your own life, the change that you are working for would be awesome, says Ounaysa, but it's okay if you won't.
Martha found her guests so strong and determined that "I wouldn't like to be your enemy."
Solidarity and sisterhood shimmer through episode four as Amy Lira and Nicole Musimbi talk about the “feminist superpowers” they learned in the 2021 Sister-to-Sister Mentorship program.
The program, hosted by the Nobel Women's Initiative and the Coady International Institute, welcomed 15 exceptional young feminist activists and leaders from 12 countries for nine weeks of online interactive mentorship and networking.
The new relationships make them feel valued and loved. Meeting other women doing the same work and overcoming similar challenges infuses them with hope and courage. “I have my sister in Congo,” says Amy. “ I have my sister in Egypt. I know that they are with me now and I am not alone.”
They returned to their work with bolstered confidence, Amy to helping survivors of sexual and domestic violence in Mexico and Nicole to peacebuilding in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “We’re unstoppable now,” says Nicole.
The Power of a Shared Dream
Host Martha Chaves says “Wow!” frequently in episode five. That’s her reaction to the stirring answers from Manal Shqair and Ilaf Nasreldin when they are asked to imagine what a feminist utopian world would look like.
Manal is a Palestinian whose utopia is liberation from Israeli occupation. Ilaf is Sudanese and her utopia is freedom from the strict restraints on women that begin at home.
“I will go to work without bothering to wait at one of Israel's 593 military checkpoints and roadblocks, where I always wait sometimes for hours with Israeli soldiers staring at my body in a disturbing way and holding their guns with their fingers on them, ready to shoot me,” says Manal.
“For starters I will feel safe,” says Ilaf. She imagines waking up and deciding what to wear, where to go and what to do without fearing reprisals or harassment because she is a woman.
If there’s a common thread in the idea of a feminist utopia, perhaps it is dignity – something, as Ilaf says, that everyone deserves.