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The WFRTW team hard at work. Photo: Kim MacKenzie.

Tour de blogosphere: When Feminists Rule The World, an Ottawa-made podcast about change-makers

By Jamie MacPherson on June 16, 2020

Incredible things happen when great people come together to make Ottawa a better place. Case in point: Last year, a collaboration between the Nobel Women’s Initiative, MediaStyle and Martha Chaves created the When Feminists Rule The World (WFRTW) podcast. Hayley Rivier-Gatt, Digital Media and Communications Officer at the Nobel Women’s Initiative and podcast project lead, says the podcast shares stories of feminists making a difference in the world “by applying hopeful feminist thinking to some of the toughest issues we are dealing with today” to help 613 residents do the same. Truly inspiring, highly creative, and so very timely. This is their story.

The WFRTW team hard at work. Photo: Kim MacKenzie.

The “herstory” behind WFRTW

Hayley tells me the podcast idea had been floating around in the organization for a while. In 2019, after extensive planning and comprehensive testing, the timing was finally right. Together with MediaStyle, a name and logo were created to reflect how the podcast would combine hard subjects “with hope and humour and building toward something different.”

Since 2006, the Nobel Women’s Initiative has been promoting cooperation and community and sharing the superb work of local grassroots organizations. With extensive experience using digital media to create awareness of pressing issues, they’re well-suited to take part in this project.

MediaStyle is a local progressive communications firm. When the Nobel Women’s Initiative approached them for help, they were welcomed with open arms. MediaStyle shared expertise on audio production and assisted in shaping the narrative arc of each episode to ensure on-point messaging. Episodes for season one were recorded in the MediaStyle podcast studio.

The first person who came to mind to host the podcast was Martha Chaves, a Nicaraguan-Canadian award-winning comedian, actor, activist, and playwright. Community-focused, politically involved, brilliant, and hilarious, she’s an honourable person. The Nobel Women’s Initiative had an excellent, long-standing working relationship with Martha, and when they asked her, she immediately signed on. Hayley remarks how lucky they are to have someone so insightful with “such a talent for finding the humour in really difficult topics.”

Host Martha Chaves. Photo: Taylan McRae-Yu.

Behind the scenes, there’s a fantastic team hard at work. Nobel Women’s Initiative Co-Executive Director Rachel Vincent and Communications and Public Engagement Manager Kim MacKenzie assist in the pre-production brainstorming and writing, and receive input and support from the whole Nobel Women’s Initiative team, which also “leads on topic generation, picking guests, and shaping the content/narrative arc of the episodes,” Hayley says.

Working together

All of these highly skilled individuals came together and used their creative communications abilities to amplify the work of grassroots women’s movements. “We’re looking at topics we think are important to discuss in this context, for diverse guests to have these conversations, and we’re shaping the storytelling of each episode to further these goals,” says Hayley. The result is a way to amplify the work that amazing people do every day to help make a better tomorrow.

Season One

When Feminists Rule The World – They Will Also Rule Their Bodies was the first episode, touching on important issues like the #MeToo movement. After a thorough, diverse analysis and “a really global perspective on a subject,” Hayley says they “always apply an inspirational and forward-looking lens” so as to illustrate “the world we want to live in – what that actually looks like and the steps we can take to get there.” Shows are meticulously prepared beforehand and topics are always timely. The first season included episodes covering the migration crisis at the Mexico–U.S. border, the climate crisis and work of the youth climate movement, and the importance of women’s inclusion in peace processes in the Middle East, among others.

On change-makers

The people WFRTW bring on their show are change-makers: individuals who work to create change in their communities to help others. Anyone can be a change-maker and it’s easy to do. Hayley says all you have to do is “engage, learn, listen, collaborate, and support feminist movements.” By showcasing brave women like Jaclyn Friedman, Oriana López Uribe, Neesa Medina, Kawkab al-Thaibani, Pamela Palmater and many more, WFRTW hopes to inspire Ottawans to get involved in their city and make it better for everyone.

The WFRTW team. Photo: Taylan McRae-Yu.

Season Two

WFRTW had a banner first year that Hayley tells me included almost 4,000 downloads in over 70 countries around the world, and being ranked multiple times in top 250 Society and Culture podcasts in Canada on Apple Podcasts, which put them in the top 50 per cent of all new podcasts. With its 2,000 social media followers, WFRTW has started remotely producing their second season, which includes “translating the podcasting process into a virtual medium for the current context.” A special Facebook live episode, When Feminists Rule the World—There Will Be No Pandemics, has been viewed on Facebook over 2,000 times. More information on upcoming shows will be released this month. A new Patreon page for donations and access to exclusive content has been created and merchandise is coming soon. WFRTW will continue to make their creative content engaging and accessible to listeners, bringing the world’s change-makers to your door.

On hope

Life today is indeed morose, but WFRTW is hopeful. They’re looking forward and focused on creating real positive change. Their episodes offer concrete strategies to improve conditions for all by bringing you “guests that are all ready doing this work, sometimes at great risk, to create a more equitable, peaceful feminist future,” Hayley says. She acknowledges today’s darkness, but notes that “the work of feminist activists around the world is toward a future that is really colourful and bright.” WFRTW invites you to be a part of that and to make a difference in Ottawa.

The climate crisis, rape culture, the wall—we think the patriarchy has done enough. Introducing “When Feminists Rule the World”, a new podcast series from the Nobel Women’s Initiative and producing partner MediaStyle. Hosted by Nicaraguan-Canadian comedian Martha Chaves, we’re talking to badass feminist change-makers around the world about the future they are creating. It shouldn’t be groundbreaking. But it is.