They call her madam

Literacy program for Indian women in Tamil Nadu (© Wikimedia Commons)

In this award-winning edition of “East of Edam”, Dheera Sujan and Maggie Ayre pay tribute to some of the powerful and influential women who are changing India and are doing so in spite of the incredible odds set against them by the injustices and bias of their male-dominated society.

The speakers include:

• Shehnaaz Sheikh, who has challenged the male interpretation of Islamic law on marriage and has set up an award-winning feminist collective, Awaaz-e-Niswaan (Women’s voice)
• Shabnam Ramaswamy, who has devoted many years of her life to helping poor street children in Delhi and who speaks candidly about women, child-bearing and development
• Prabha Khaitan (1942-2008), writer and leading Calcutta businesswoman, the first woman in India to head a Chamber of Commerce and author of the autobiography “A Life Apart”
• Kiran Bedi, Asian tennis champion, lawyer and India’s first woman police service officer, who has defied her society’s “rules” about the role of a woman in her family
• Shobhaa De, “the Jackie Collins of India”, agony aunt, gossip columnist and author of glamorous novels about socialites and sex

Producers: Dheera Sujan & Maggie Ayre

Broadcast: February 20, 1994

This programme won a finalist award at the New York Radio Festivals in 1994.