International Women’s Day: Celebrating change at The Women’s Podcast after 500 episodes

A special storytelling evening will see women share personal tales of transformation

The Women’s Podcast first launched on in September 2015. We were, admittedly, a little late to the party. Two years earlier, Apple had already announced that it had amassed one billion podcast subscribers, and by the time The Women’s Podcast first aired this newspaper was already producing a suite of excellent podcasts on the subjects of politics, business and world affairs.

Why did a team of female Irish Times journalists want to create a podcast by women for women? Well, to mangle a well-known Jane Austenism, it was a truth universally acknowledged at the time that the global podcasting landscape had a surplus of men talking into Zoom recorders (Zooms being the discerning podcaster’s recording device of choice). Also, to mangle a well-known Virginia Woolfism, we wanted a Zoom of our own.

Originally, we thought about calling the podcast Sound Women – there seemed no better use for one of the highest, uniquely Irish, compliments. Annoyingly, that same year, we discovered an English crowd had already appropriated that name. We settled on The Women’s Podcast, a podcast to do exactly what it said on the mauve-coloured logo, exploring the issues affecting women’s lives in Ireland and beyond.

More than 500 episodes later, we’re still here and flourishing. Now we’re planning a relaunch with a brand new multi-coloured logo to coincide with International Women’s Day.


Fascinating conversations

We have never been short of material. Our original launch coincided with the birth of #WakingTheFeminists and a couple of months later, the Hearing Women’s Voices study by Jane Suiter and her colleagues in DCU, focused our minds about the dire need for more women on air.

Over the years we’ve had fascinating conversations on a range of subjects. We’ve talked at length and in sometimes hilarious detail about important topics from menstruation to masturbation. We’ve won awards for our coverage of the mother and baby homes controversy. We’ve talked to women in the Irish Defence Forces, to transwomen, to Dublin schoolgirls, to authors, to campaigners and to mothers. We’ve spoken to funny Irish women such as Marian Keyes and Joanne McNally and to Irish women on the international stage such as Samantha Power.

Beyond Ireland, we’ve featured episodes on women’s struggles in the Middle East and heard about the plight of the Uyghurs in China. In our latest podcast, we talked to Ukrainian woman Nadia Dobrianska, and an upcoming episode will feature women in Afghanistan telling us about life under the Taliban.

Occasionally we’ve even allowed men on the podcast. In 2018, during our coverage of the abortion referendum, three men shared the moving, challenging experiences they’d gone through with the women in their lives. More recently, in our ongoing discussions around the problem of male violence against women, we talked to activists Jackson Katz and Ryan Hart about how men need to become part of the solution.

Behind the scenes, a team of excellent women make and shape the podcast. Podcast experts Suzanne Brennan and Jennifer Ryan are co-producers, columnist Kathy Sheridan shares hosting duties, and Irish Times journalists such as Sorcha Pollak, Bernice Harrison, Jennifer O’Connell, Niamh Towey, Rosita Boland and many more are regular, valued contributors.

Podcasting From Home

In addition to our weekly episodes, we’ve hosted several joyous in-person events for our audience, sometimes in a forest at the Body & Soul festival, sometimes in venues such as Dublin’s Sugar Club. We started off life in The Irish Times studio but for the past two years, for obvious reasons, we’ve been PFH, Podcasting From Home. I recorded my first PFH episode under my duvet – I decided the acoustics were better – until I got to grips with the recording equipment and moved to a desk.

We hope our pandemic-inspired Women’s Podcast Big Nights In featuring women such as Caitlin Moran, Eileen Flynn, Amy Huberman, Marie Cassidy and Tolü Makay added a little levity and a release from life in lockdown for our podcast community.

Now, to celebrate our relaunch The Women’s Podcast is hosting The Change, a special online storytelling evening at 7pm on Tuesday, March 8th. To mark International Women’s Day together with co-host Kathy Sheridan, women will share their personal tales of transformation.

The Change is a colloquial phrase used for the menopause, something we’ve talked about a lot on the podcast. Our panel, including very sound women such as author Hilary Fannin, Miss Ireland Pamela Uba, activist Lavinia Kerwick, actor Philippa Dunne, journalist Brianna Parkins and recently arrived Ukrainian political researcher Angelika Sharygina will share their surprising and moving stories of change. We hope you will join us.

You’re invited to join The Change on The Women’s Podcast live on Facebook @ITWomensPodcast at 7pm on Tuesday, March 8th.