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‘We Change the Rules’ podcast examines how legal inequality impacts women and girls globally

 ‘We Change the Rules’ is an enlightening new 6-episode podcast by international women’s rights organization Equality Now, which sheds light on the legacy and future of gender inequality in the law and the activists and movements driving change. Hosted by award-winning journalist Samira Ahmed, it features renowned thinkers and reformers, including feminist icon Gloria Steinem, former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, former Deputy President of South Africa Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Pakistan’s first female Supreme Court judge Ayesha Malik, and Equality Now’s Global Executive Director Mona Sinha

Gender equality begins with the law because a country’s laws set the tone for how it treats its people and how its people treat each other. Yet, only fourteen countries have achieved legal equality, meaning billions of women and girls worldwide still do not have the same rights as their male counterparts.  

We Change the Rules’ is available on Apple, Spotify, and YouTube and is essential listening for anyone interested in achieving legal, political, and systematic gender equality. Each episode unpacks the global impact of sex-discriminatory laws and the need for legal reform, with esteemed guests sharing personal stories, unique insights, and bold new ideas.

“It can feel like we’re going backward on equality for women and girls, so the chance to speak to some of the biggest names in women’s activism and find out what has been happening to the dreams and promises and UN commitments of the past was a thrill. From women who inspired me as a child like Gloria Steinem to the lawyers, politicians, and campaigners worldwide who are diligently working on every front, every conversation was inspiring,” said Samira Ahmed, host of ‘We Change the Rules.’

 “This is a fundamental podcast to raise awareness about the reality of the world’s courts concerning gender-based violence. Amidst various challenges impeding progress, having tools to reach more and more people is the key to not being silenced again, ever again,” said Thelma Fardin, Argentinian actress and feminist campaigner, and a guest on the podcast.

 28th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action 

In September 1995, at the UN’s 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing, 189 governments convened to adopt the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, considered the most progressive blueprint for advancing the rights of women and girls and achieving gender equality globally. As legal equality is an essential component, one of the commitments made by States was that they would “revoke any remaining laws that discriminate on the basis of sex.”

Equality Now uniquely combines legal advocacy, regional partnership-building, and community mobilization to achieve a more just and equal world for all women and girls. This includes holding governments to account by periodically tracking and reviewing sexist legislation worldwide. As part of this advocacy,  ‘We Change the Rules’  assesses progress since the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was adopted almost three decades ago. 

The podcast seeks to uncover factors contributing to the slow and inconsistent journey toward global legal equality for women and girls and the obstacles hindering governments from fulfilling their pledges to repeal or amend sex-discriminatory laws.

It is intended to inspire hope and action among a wider audience and build momentum for national movements to hold governments accountable for ending gender and sex-based discrimination in laws, policies, and practices ahead of the Beijing +30 review coming up in 2025.

We Change the Rules – Summary of Episodes, which also featured other guests

Episode 1 explores the extent and global impact of legal inequality on women and girls everywhere with Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, former Deputy President for South Africa and Executive Director of UN Women; Ayesha Malik, the first female judge of the Supreme court in Pakistan; and Mona Sinha, the Global Executive Director of Equality Now.

Episode 2 unpacks the impact and legacy of religious and cultural traditions on how women today are treated under the law with Margarette May Macaulay, Jamaican Commissioner and President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and Jody Heymann, Founding Director of WORLD Policy Analysis Center.

Episode 3 revisits the 1995 UN World Conference on Women in Beijing, assessing progress since then with Beverley Palesa Ditsie, leading LGBTQ+ advocate; Xenia Kellner, co-founder of Young Feminist Europe; and Antonia Kirkland, Global Lead for Legal Equality and Access to Justice at Equality Now.

Episode 4 looks into the factors holding global progress back and discovers female representation’s importance at the leadership level. Guests include Professor Michelle Ryan of the Global Institute of Women’s Leadership at The Australian National University and Dr Michele Goodwin, Director of the UCI Law Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy.

Episode 5 highlights collective activism for gender equality, featuring  Gloria Steinem, renowned journalist, activist, and pioneer of second-wave feminism; Omar Samra, Egypt-based human rights activist; and Faiza Jama Mohamed, the Africa Regional Director of Equality Now.

Episode 6 examines the future of gender equality and how governments and leaders can be held accountable with  Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia; Thelma Fardin, Argentinian actress and feminist campaigner; and Mona Sinha, Global Executive Director of Equality Now.