As podcasts continue to gain popularity worldwide, we have witnessed a spurt of new podcasts that have spectacularly widened the range of informative feminist content in India. The first few (and still iconic) feminist podcasts in India focused on pop culture, body positivity, and living feminist lives. The new and upcoming ones have widened the range, diving into gender policy, financial independence, and women occupying space: in offices and laboratories, in sexual encounters, and in public spaces.
Here is a list of podcasts that stood out this year for not only shining a light on women’s issues and realities in India, but empowering women with the knowledge to make well-informed decisions for themselves.
1. Women in Labour
From unpaid work to emotional labour to being undermined at the office, women have always borne the burden of labour that isn’t considered as ‘real work’. Comedian Aditi Mittal and filmmaker Christina MacGillivray unpack the realities of women’s work and working women in this brutally honest comedy podcast ‘Women in Labour‘. With guests like Ragini Das (co-founder of leap.club, a professional networking platform for women) and Christina Dhanaraj (Dalit History Month co-founder), this podcast is for anyone who wants the answer to: ’What’s keeping women away from India’s workplaces?’
2. City Of Women
What does navigating an Indian city really look like for women? What big and small obstacles do they face to simply exist and feel free? City of Women documents the struggles, strategies and rebellions of everyday women on the streets of Bangalore. From buses to hostel gates, terraces to theatres, the podcast features short first hand accounts from anonymous everyday women and interviews with prominent women like economist and author Shrayana Bhattacharya and Tamil author, poet and activity, Salma.
3. The Sex Podcast
When Indian schools fail to provide us with sex education, what choice do we have but to turn to podcasts? Popular sex positive content creator and author of ‘The Sex Book’, Leeza Mangaldas, has started her own Hindi sex ed podcast in December 2021, ‘The Sex Podcast‘. The podcast provides safe sex and hygiene practices, demystifies the elusive g-spot and (even more tragically elusive) clitoris, and busts myths like ‘sex makes your vagina loose’. A good refresher in the ABCs we never really learnt from a reliable source. Leeza also recently spoke about her book, podcast and work with FII. Listen to the conversation here.
4. In Perspective
The Swaddle‘s In Perspective offers a deeply nuanced perspective on India through conversations with academics who have spent years, if not decades, studying particular facets of our history and culture. From Tamil women writing about desire in the 1920s, birth of Cabaret in Mumbai to the development of the North East, the podcast spans decades, regions and feminist concerns like voting rights, sex work, sati, reproductive rights, queer love and consent. A must-listen for those who want to understand more about history, movements, and themselves. And those who love these kinds of deep-dives can also look at Swaddle’s other two podcasts: The Last Courtesans of Bombay and Respectfully Disagree.
5. Girls That Invest
Investing experts Simran Kaur and Sonya Gupthan are on a mission to help women all over the world gain complete financial autonomy and make GOOD decisions with the ‘Girls That Invest‘ podcast. From insurance to side-hustles, these South Asian millennials are here to demystify heavy financial jargon, and help women navigate complex situations like loaning money to a friend or planning for a divorce. A great value add for women who want to understand the ABCs of investing and reduce the gender wealth gap!
6. 28ish Days Later
In 28 episodes, this cleverly titled podcast takes you through the process of a menstrual cycle, from bleeding to bleeding again! India Rakusen covers the cycle in excruciating detail, focusing not just on the period, but on physical and hormonal changes, ovulation, contraceptives, PMS, endometriosis and more. Understand everything you ever wanted to know about your period with this podcast that deconstructs the history, science and politics of menstruation.
7. Rumors: Dark Lore From India
Written and narrated by horror author Chandrima Das, Rumors explores local legends and myths across India, without claiming them to be true or false. Unlike most mainstream Indian horror, the podcast does not show traditions of marginalised communities as ‘horrifying’ but goes out of its way to feature different belief systems like the ritualistic Bhootakola dance of Tulunadu, the tiger god of the Sundarbans, and the magic practices of Mayong village in Assam.
From uncovering the realities of witch-hunting in India to the colonial hangover of worshipping of ‘White Gods’, the podcast is able to provide a larger socio-cultural perspective on the fears and beliefs that drive Indians today.
8. Lost Women Of Science
As the name suggests, Lost Women Of Science uncovers the contributions and groundbreaking discoveries of women scientists who haven’t received the recognition they deserve. Started at the end of 2021, this unique podcast has released 3 seasons so far, featuring pathologist Dorothy Anderson, programmer Klára Dán von Neumann and mechanical engineer Yvonne Y. Clark. Each season has 4-5 episodes covering the life and socio-cultural context of one scientist and the current implications of her work.
Does India need its own podcast celebrating women scientists or perhaps Lady Doctors? Absolutely. But in the meantime, this podcast is the go-to for women looking for inspiration to pursue science.
9. Masala Podcast
I only recently discovered this award-winning podcast that has been heavily featured in international publications. Now in its 4th season, the podcast is hosted by South Asian intersectional feminist and activist Sangeetha Pillai, who is on a mission to defy the pressure on South Asian women to be ‘appropriate’. Through interviews with medical specialists, drag queens, activists and queer folks, she breaks the taboos around every potentially ‘shameful’ topic under the sun: including masturbation and nipple hair.
10. Bad Gays
This history podcast turns your typical LGBTQ+ podcast on its head. From Alexander the Great to J. Edgar Hoover, Anne Bonny to Jeffery Dahmer, Bad Gays features controversial and influential historical figures who are known for many things, but not their sexuality. With this clever concept, the podcast not only combats the straight-washing of past icons, but also urges people to see queerness as neutral. To not just remember queer heroes, but also queer villains.
It is, once again, set in the US and predominantly features men, but that is a limitation we must bear with until we start creating a LOT more feminist podcasts here in India.
Honourable mention: In 2022, FII also produced three podcast shows. FII debuted two new shows, ‘Women and Work: Why it Matters!‘ with International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) and ‘Advocacy, Passion & Beyond: Voices from the SI Leader Lab‘ with the Swedish Institute. FII also brought back its flagship podcast ‘Intersectional Feminism—Desi Style!‘ for its third season. Stream the podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.
So here’s me looking forward to a wonderful year of more barriers broken, and more empowering (and entertaining) feminist content accessible to all the women and marginalised folks of India.
Also read: 10 Feminist Podcasts We Loved In 2021
Disclaimer: This is by no means an exhaustive or representative list. Suggestions to add to the list are welcome in the comments section.