a podcast by and about women
a podcast by and about women
Tes is a long-time blogger and foodie. For the past 10 years, she’s focused her blog and work around women’s issues. This is her long-form interview podcast. She’s lined up women activists and volunteers from around the world to tell their stories and the stories of the women they work with.
Born and raised in a family of medical professionals in Kolkata, India, Urmi Basu received her primary and secondary education in the city. On completion of her first Degree in Sociology, Urmi moved to take her Masters in Social Work at the prestigious Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. During her training she had the opportunity to work in the first cell set up for women in distress by the Mumbai Police Department. She also worked as a relief worker during the Bhopal gas leak tragedy in December 1984 which left a lasting impression on her mind about the need to be prepared for disasters, both natural and manmade.
After fifteen years of professional work Urmi set up a small non-profit named New Light in Kolkata in 2000 with a seed money as little as Rs 10,000 along with two other young people from the Kalighat red light district. The mission of the organization is to promote gender equality and fight violence and abuse of women, girl children and young people. That tiny initiative today provides care and support to a couple of thousand people. The organization also works to fight against child prostitution and trafficking for the purpose of sex- trade, child labour and bonded labour. Urmi has been a part of targeted intervention programs for victims of HIV/AIDS, trans-sexual and trans-gender people.
She lives in Kolkata, India and fights for social justice for the marginalized community every day of her life. In her own words her greatest moment of joy was when she was chosen as a recipient of a blessing from His Holiness The Dalai Lama under the title Unsung heroes of Compassion 2009 on the 26th of April 2009 in San Francisco for her work that promotes compassion and peace. In 2019, it was a distinguished honour for all associated with her as Ms. Urmi Basu received the prestigious Nari Shakti Puraskar from His Excellency the President of India through the Ministry of Women and Child Development, GOI, in recognition of New Light Kolkata’s contribution to women’s empowerment on the occasion of International Women’s Day.
Awards & Accolades
▪ Selected as the NGO co-ordinator by the office of the Governor of West Bengal to make a presentation on micro credit, women’s participation in gender sensitivity and health issues during the visit of the former President of the United States Bill Clinton on 7th of April 2001
▪ Part of the core team that met the past Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on her visit to Kolkata in May 2012 and shared the experience of working against trafficking in persons
▪ Featured in the four hour documentary Half The Sky based on the novel by New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wu Dunn, which featured Urmi and her work with the victims of trafficking on PBS in October 2012 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXcP7vMnMaM)
▪ Following the documentary she received the Global Citizen Award at the Global Music Festival in Central Park, New York in September 2012 which was organized to mark zero tolerance for hunger, poverty and abuse (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1PW5JFeuPw)
▪ Recipient of Nari Shakti award from His Excellency The President of India on the occasion of International Women’s Day on the 8th of March 2019
▪ Recognized as Person of the Year 2020 By Weekend Leader Chennai at Vellore Institute of Technology for the contribution to the welfare of women and children
To learn more about Urmi Basu:
A life of dignity: dire straits faced by the sex workers in Kolkata – Urmi Basu – TEDxIIFT Kolkata
To learn more about New Light Kolkata:
New Light Kolkata
Christine Wehrli – Events Specialist at Rice University School of Architecture; Cultural Ambassador for Filipino Young Professionals (FYP)
Today, Tes talks with Christine Wehrli. Christine is a Filipina-American who was born and raised overseas; she considers herself a Third Culture Kid. She is currently an Events Specialist at the Rice University School of Architecture, in Houston, Texas. She graduated with a B.A. from the University of Richmond where she majored in International Studies, and minored in French and History. Prior to working at Rice University, she worked in sustainable tourism in Moshi, Tanzania, and as a library associate for the D.C. Public Library in Washington, D.C.
In her free time, she enjoys engaging in cultural activities and getting involved in the community. In Washington, D.C., she was an ambassador for InterNations, an expat networking group, and a volunteer Math teacher at the YWCA. In Houston, she is an ambassador for the Filipino Young Professionals and was involved with voter outreach for the 2018 midterm and 2020 U.S. elections.She is a licenced Zumba instructor and has led classes in various countries in her five years of teaching.
To learn more about Christine Wehrli:
Dr. Shruti Kapoor is an award-winning gender equality activist, economist, Tedx speaker and social entrepreneur. Shaken by the horrific gang rape in Delhi in 2012 that caught the attention of the global news media, she founded her organization, Sayfty. Its goal is to educate and empower women and girls in India against gender-based violence.
Dr. Kapoor was named by Apolitical as one of the most influential people in global policy in 2019. The BrahmaKumaris awarded Dr. Kapoor the “Achievement and Excellence in Human Rights” in 2019. The Indian Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2019 honored Dr. Kapoor as one of the “30 #WebWonderWomen“ who has been driving a positive agenda of social change via social media. In 2018 Richtopia named Dr. Kapoor as one of the top 100 leaders from multilateral global organizations. In 2016, The White House nominated Dr. Kapoor as a change maker for The United State of Women’s Summit 2016, and in India she was named the winner of Barclay’s 2016 “We are the City 50 Rising Stars Award”. In 2015 Femverstising awarded the “People’s Choice Award” to Sayfty for their campaign promoting gender equality, and was chosen to receive a State recognition award by the Uttar Pradesh government in India for the organization’s work advocating for the safety and education of girls. Also, in 2015, Dr. Kapoor was awarded the Rex Karamveer fellowship, whose aim is “to share impactful ideas for action and transform lives through projects and ideas of hope”. Additionally, Dr. Kapoor received the 2015 “Woman of the Year Award (third prize)” from the Regional Council of Aosta Valley, Italy.
Dr. Kapoor earned a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California, Riverside, and has worked with International organizations such as The World Bank and UN Women. She has also served as an Adjunct Professor of Economics at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Dr. Kapoor served on the core organizing committee of UN’s Youth Forum for the Commission on the Status of Women 2017.
Dr. Kapoor has addressed many public forums including Tedx Gateway, various sessions of the Youth Assembly at the United Nations, UN Women’s events, The World Forum On Urban Violence, IIT Delhi, Merit 360, and the World Woman Summit. She is a regular contributor on gender issues and a network member of Apolitical, a global policy platform and a network of policymakers and thought leaders. As a “World Pulse Impact Leader and Digital Change Maker”, Dr. Kapoor is dedicated to media, digital and traditional approaches to strive for gender equality and gender responsive implementation of the “Sustainable Development Goals”. She is an active user of social media and you can connect with her at:
To find out more about Sayfty and My Ambar app:
My Ambar app – myambar.org
Today, Tes talks with Shanequa Levin. Shanequa is an award-winning social justice leader, motivational speaker, and author. She is also a registered ordained wedding officiant. Shanequa published a memoir titled Poverty’s Phoenix, which is about surviving childhood poverty. She is the founder and CEO of the Women’s Diversity Network, a social movement organization practicing transformative justice processes based on group leadership where marginalized lives are centered. The mission of the WDN is to connect and mobilize women of different backgrounds to create positive change through collective work and a unified sisterhood. Through WDN, she has created the Health Equity Task Force, which focuses on addressing Maternal Mortality. She’s created a yearly summit that brings diverse people together to learn about social justice issues and celebrate cultures.
In 2020 she convened a Black-led, multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-generational coalition of organizations, activists, and community members who are working to ensure genuine public safety for all Long Island communities called LI United to Transform Policing & Community Safety. LI United’s mission is to transform public safety by divesting from policing and investing in our communities.
Shanequa also founded the Long Island chapter of Mocha Moms, a support group for mothers of color, and is the former director of Every Child Matters in NY, an advocacy and electoral engagement organization on behalf of kids. She is a member of The State of Black Long Island Equity Council through the Urban League of Long Island, a community advisor for the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, a Co-Chair for the Long Island Million Women Community, a Community Advisor for Hofstra University’s Healthcare Entrepreneurship Community Challenge, and the creator of culturally relevant Facebook groups. She has also been instrumental in advocating policy changes to Early Care and Learning, Raise The Age, Paid Family Leave Insurance, Bail Reform, and more. As a survivor of childhood poverty, drug-addicted parents, an incarcerated father, and a teen mom, she uses her voice to help others break negative generational cycles.
To learn more about Shanequa Levin:
Today, Tes talks with Jeanee James. Jeanee is an award winning photographer, sculptor and potter. She’s also an adventurist, who has seen much of the world. She lives her life with passion and gratitude and believes we create and design each chapter in our life book. Her story is an extraordinary one that will inspire you to be proactive in creating more joy and going after that passion you put on hold because life took over.
Jeanee is an Alaskan, raised in the beautiful town of Homer, a place that is in her DNA and sculpted who she is. She says it gave her the foundation of her journey in art, adventure and travel.
Her love of art started in Alaska, receiving an art scholarship, but she changed paths and achieved a degree in Travel and Tourism.
She has backpacked all over Europe, lived on a kibbutz in Israel, was a deckhand, filleted huge halibut in Alaska, been a tour director through the Canadian Rockies, climbed the pyramids in Egypt, floated in the Dead Sea, scuba dived in the Red Sea, hiked in Australia, explored the Tahitian Islands and people, worked on luxury cruise ships traveling the world. She hiked 556 miles solo across Spain on the sacred pilgrimage called El Camino De Santiago.
She was named Woman Artist of the Year Brevard County central Florida 2008,
Best Photography studio/Photographer Readers Choice Florida 2016
Won National Honors in sculpting with Genius Women in the Arts 2020
She created, designed and leads Women’s Art Retreats she calls “Untethered”, a creative adventure for women to reboot, refill and feed women’s souls through art, hiking, music, food and inspiration.
Here is her story, with lessons of love, heartache, gratitude and ultimately following your dreams.
To learn more about Jeanee James and her custom private group, Untethered retreat:
Facebook: Jeanee Seljestad James
YouTube: Alaskan Pilgrim
Today, Tes talks with Maxine Thomas. Maxine exemplifies the true definition of a servant leader in the community. Accordingly, Maxine was awarded the 2017 Bob Dickerson leadership award in recognition for her leadership, courage, persistence, and commitment as a RESULTS Grassroots Volunteer. She is also the recipient of the Do Something, Be Someone Positive Leadership Award awarded by the Saint Florian Leadership Development Center.
She believes that no one should live in poverty and families must take an active role in changing their communities.
Through RESULTS she is improving access to education, health, and economic opportunity by sharing her personal story of triumph. Maxine was elected by the grassroots advocates to serve on the International Board of Directors for RESULTS. Many media pieces have been written about Maxine’s efforts to support her community, one of which is her great success in having her own Op-Ed published on The Hill. She is passionate and committed and uses her voice to influence political change. Through the international work of RESULTS, she maintains ongoing efforts with her members of congress and elected officials. Maxine thrives to build bridges between everyday people and our policy makers.
Throughout her experiences, she has learned that making a significant change can seem impossible and at the very least, takes a lot of work. She is continuously thinking of ways in which she can impact the lives of people around her.
To reach Maxine Thomas:
Facebook: Maxine Thomas