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)
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
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)
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
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)