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Can You Hear Us?

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Can You Hear Us? is a podcast by Monica Abad Yang, Madiera Dennison, Ana Carolina Muñoz-Morales and Kiana Shahbazi in partnership with the LSE’s first society dedicated to Women of Colour in Consulting (WoCo), created by the 2020/21 Cohort.

The podcast is the first initiative of its kind at the School’s Department of International Development and has the overall aim to prioritise BIPOC women and femmes' specific experiences and narratives by creating a space where we can discuss a multitude of topics that affect us as women, women of colour (WOC) and women in professional spaces such as: Colourism or Work Life Balance.

The name Can You Hear Us? originates from the COVID-19 pandemic as it is commonly repeated on Zoom but also symbolically reflects the work left to do to empower WOC.

Tune in for a new episode every other Thursday.
6 Episodes
Before taking a short break to finish up dissertation writing, the Can Your Hear Us team decided to tackle race in academia on their own—roundtable style. In the last of the two-part series, Madiera, Monica, Kiana, and Ana join in a Jada-Pickett-Smith-inspired “Red Table” discussion about the future of development practice, academia, and their paths post-LSE. From the importance of action-oriented research to the significance of female leadership, the team gets personal about their own experiences, thoughts, and questions for the post-COVID-19 era...and how development should change for it.
After a break due to summer term assessments, Can You Hear Us is happy to be back with a new theme: Race in Academia, where we aim to highlight both academics and students' perspectives as women and femmes of color within the sector. In the first of a two-part series, we interview Professor Mahvish Shami, co-director of the Development Management program here at the LSE, and Shingira Masanzu a PhD student from the LSE’s department of Law. Together they bring their insights on challenges faced both in in and out of the academic world and in the sphere of international development.“When Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was made head of the WTO, there’s this mass celebration about finally a person from Africa is head of the WTO […], but it is in 2021 that we are getting excited about a black person right in the WTO, that to me speaks to the structural thing, to think about who is occupying positions of leadership in powerful institutions”.  –  Shingi Masanzu“For me the project of decolonizing is asking questions around what voices, ideas and perspectives have dominated the space and what voices have been obscured, [..] and how do we swivel some light to pay attention to those voices that we have not heard”.   –  Shingi Masanzu“I am a woman of color, but I am also an LSE staff member, part of the LSE community, I am also a big fan of modern-popular-movies I also like a certain kind of music. All these identities allow me to relay to different kinds of groups and position myself into different categories.”  –   Dr Mahvish Shami on positionality based on Sen’s “Identity and Violence” (2007)“You guys come from all over the world, you are aware of all sort of different ideas and literatures and voices out there that we may not know, so that’s how you can play a major role [decolonizing academia]: you could bring it to our attention, you could bring it to your seminars, you could take it to your lectures […] I think a lot of students underestimate how important their background is and the knowledge they bring to the classroom”.   –  Dr Mahvish Shami
In the fourth episode of Can You Hear Us, the team continue with our theme of – Having it All – by exploring a particular area of development that both creates barriers and opportunities for women of colour to professionally engage with and advise on development, aid, and humanitarian interventions: Consulting. Susan Sebantindira, LSE alumnus and founder of The Black Humanitarian, sits down with CYHU team to tackle the world of consulting, and how to find and make space within it “I do think imposter syndrome is also a structural issue and not just an individual issue. Too often we place on the individual the onus of removing imposter syndrome or finding a solution for it... but you also have to look at the structures in place that lead women of colour feeling disempowered.” “I felt like it was the first time I could see myself in the [development] sector, that there was a place for me.”
In the third episode of Can You Hear Us, we introduce our second theme - Having it All - through the distinct lens of women of colour in entrepreneurship. To do so we present Margarita Anddrade, Co-founder of Malaika Linens and Threads of Hope Cairo, alongside LSE alumnus Fardida El Kalagy, Threads of Hope’s Sustainability and Development Head. Together, they introduce us to their new sustainable impact model while highlighting the importance of creating social enterprises that focus on women’s empowerment. “Compassion, putting yourself in the shoes of someone else, gives you so much strength” - Margarita Andrade “By sustainability we are focusing on three main aspects: financial sustainability, [….] technical sustainability and […] sustainable impact [which] is one of our main objectives.” - Farida ElKalagy “If you help a woman, you help the whole family--the neighbourhood. You help the world” - Margarita Andrade
In the second episode of Can You Hear Us?, the CYHU team takes a step back to critically tackle a system of oppression embedded within the identity politics of many women of colour in some shape or form: Colourism. Inspired by current events and Professor Akousa Adomako Ampofos Cutting Edge lecture on decolonizing academia, we welcome two guests all the way from Boston to begin deconstructing colorism and the ways in which it operates in social movements and community-building: Beatriz Cantada, Equity, Inclusion and Community Engagement Leader at MIT, and Natalie Petit, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Education in the MIT Sloan School of Management. “Growing up I didn’t use the word Colorism, we just said oh you’re lighter darker skinned” - Beatriz Cantada “Let’s not wait for another Tsunami like George Floyd when we could have just handled the rip tides [] avoid the aftershocks.” - Natalie Petit
In this first episode, the Can You Hear Us? (CYHU) team introduces themselves and their first theme: Sense of Place. They interview the founder of the LSE’s first association for Women of Colour in Consulting (WoCo): Mirabella Pulido. They discuss the reason behind the creation of WoCo, the importance of creating such a space in today's world and what Hogwarts house is behind it all! “Even though being a Woman of Colour is not 110% what I do and who I am it is a big part of it.” “After looking through the LSE’s organisations and not seeing that and looking at the internships I wanted to apply for and realising that there was actually no one who I knew that looked like me that I could reach out to solicit advice, that is when I realised that there was a big need for this.”
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