Best Podcasts about Women’s Issues and Stories

by Kali Goldstone, WFEA Senior Advisor

As a feminist activist, working to achieve gender equality in politics, I am captivated by podcasts where women share their stories about their experiences in politics, in life, in relationships and in positions of leadership.

When I listen to these women stories, I am inspired by their vision and their brave attitude to personal, societal and political challenges. It is through their stories that we recognise how women, across the globe, face the same obstacles perpetuated by patriarchy and misogyny, helping us to understand the human condition a little better.

The Political:

Julia Gillard: “A Podcast of One’s Own.”

Former Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard presents a podcast in her role as Chair of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership. In each episode Julia leads a thoughtful but fun discussion with well-known female (and some male) leaders from the worlds of business, entertainment, media, sport and many more. By celebrating their stories and learning the lessons from their lives, the podcast gives us insight into what needs to be done so more women get to lead.

Favourite Episodes:
  • Julia talks to Jenny Macklin about the importance of female representation in government, the need for competition between women and what more needs to be done to combat the misogynistic treatment of female politicians.
  • Julia and Cordelia Fine discuss encounters with sexism in their early school years, how the male and female brain are not as different as is traditionally understood, and how inequality between the sexes is cultural not natural.
  • Julia interviews Secretary Madeline Albright about her experience as a leader in politics and diplomacy, and covers everything from her gender equality advocacy, what it was like to forge the path as the first female Secretary of State, great life regrets, motherhood, and of course her famous quote, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

The Issues:

Get elected with Just Something About Her podcastJennifer Palmieri: “Just Something About Her.”

Jennifer Palmieri is the former communications director for the Obama White House and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. Palmieri explores why — after decades of making steady progress — women find themselves banging up against the same glass ceilings. The show features interviews with powerful women from business, politics, the arts and journalism to learn how they found a way to break through and create their own path to success.

Favourite Episodes:
  • Jennifer and Afton Vechery talk about how under-researched women’s health and reproductive systems have been throughout history and how cultural stigmas, ancient legends, perpetuated stereotypes, and institutionalized bans have contributed to big gaps in data and information about women’s health.
  • Jennifer and Errin Haines joins Jennifer to discuss Black women’s continued fight for access to the ballot, what we learned about the politics of race and gender during the pandemic, and why newsrooms need to change their perception that women and people of color are special interest groups.
  • Jennifer reflects with Julia Gillard about her “misogyny speech,” and the moments that led up to it. They discuss how Julia rose to the Prime Minister’s seat under a “glass cliff” situation; why Australia has managed to select a woman to the highest office, while the United States has not; and why young women shouldn’t be deterred by the treatment they’ve seen women leaders and candidates endure.

Political podcast: You and Me Both with Hillary ClintonHillary Clinton: “You and Me both.”

Hillary Clinton sits down for candid, in-depth, and sometimes hilarious conversations with people she finds fascinating. With help from her guests, Hillary will tackle the topics that shape our lives, from faith to the pressing political issues of our time.

Favourite Episodes:
  • Hillary talks to Isabel Wilkerson about how a rigid hierarchy of caste in the United States has shaped—and warped—our society. She also speaks with Reshma Saujani, who is working hard to change the way the U.S.A values women’s work. And she checks in with Malcolm Kenyatta, who is part of a generation of young people changing the face of politics in the U.S.A.
  • Hillary talks to Gloria Steinem about her life and career, and sits down with Mona Hanna-Attisha, who spoke out about the Flint Water Crisis. With each of these gutsy women, she asks what — or who — made them think they could make a difference, and how they overcame the obstacles they faced along the way.
  • Nancy Pelosi joins Hillary for a candid, no-holds-barred conversation about the Capitol Riots.  In a detailed firsthand account of what Speaker Pelosi and her House members experienced that day and about what needs to happen to ensure that those responsible are held to account, how we got here, and what a new administration can do to address the many challenges facing the country.

Australian Politics:

Annabel Crabb & Steph Tisdale: “Ms Represented.”

One hundred years after Australia elected its very first female parliamentarian, journalist Annabel Crabb and comedian Steph Tisdell chart the rise of female politicians in Australian politics and the unbelievable things they got up to along the way.

Favourite Episodes:
  • Episode 1: Australia was the first country in the world where women were allowed to vote and run for parliament. But no one thought women would really run for office. When Parliament House was built, there weren’t even women’s toilets. Annabel and Steph take a look at how Parliament House was designed with only blokes in mind.
  • Episode 2: Former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins triggered a #MeToo moment in Canberra this year when she alleged she had been raped by a colleague in Parliament House in 2019. Her story inspired others to come forward and share their own stories of harassment, including one prominent former politician who alleges that she was assaulted by a colleague in Old Parliament House decades ago. In this episode, Annabel and Steph ask just how safe women feel in Australia’s halls of power.
  • Episode 4: Annabel has spent the last year interviewing female politicians of all ages and political persuasions. They have plenty of different views, but on one issue, they were nearly all in agreement. When a woman suggests a good idea, it is often ignored until a man says exactly the same thing. So, female politicians have had to concoct some inventive ways to get their views heard.

Women’s Stories:

Clementine Ford: “Big Sister Hotline.”

This is your place to ask all the questions you STILL don’t know the answers to about sex, friendships, relationships, family and life stuff, with the kind of frank advice you could expect to get from the person who loves you most – your big sister. Because life isn’t easy, and sometimes we all need a big sister to call on.

Favourite Episodes:
  • Clementine speaks with Christina Hobbs, the CEO of Verve Super, Australia’s first superannuation fund 100% dedicated to growing the super and wealth of women.
  • Clementine is joined by EM RAZZ to discuss how to navigate a relationship when your partner body shames you? And how do you come to terms, as a teenage girl, with the realisation that your feminism will never be taken seriously – not even when you are being harmed by the boys around you?
  • Clementine and Karen Pickering discuss men’s violence against women, sexual assault, rape, historical allegations, and the disastrous state of affairs with misogyny in Australian politics right now. They focus on how sexism exists on both sides of the political spectrum and what it means to see rape culture expressed so brazenly in the highest office in the land.

For a Feminist Laugh:

Deborah Frances-White: “The Guilty Feminist.”

Ever felt like you should be better at feminism? Deborah Frances-White along with her guests, recorded in front of a live audience explores this concept in her comedy podcast. Each week they discuss topics “all 21 first century feminists agree on” while confessing their insecurities, hypocrisies and fears that underlie their lofty principles. I’m a feminist but… one time I went on a women’s rights march, and I popped into a department store to use the loo, and I got distracted trying out face cream. And when I came out the march was gone.

Favourite Episodes:
  • Being Overlooked with Jessica Fostekew and guests Yasmin Benoit and ZOZËY 
  • Hidden Inequalities with Deborah Frances-White, Athena Kugblenu, Bell Rebeiro-Addy, Dr Christine Ekechi, Mathilda Mallinson and Tinuke Awe.
  • Women in Medicine with Jo Brand and guests Angela Saini and Dame Sally Davies