BBC launches Woman’s Hour Power List 2014: highlights FGM in time for International Woman’s Day

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ON February 26th, BBC Radio 4 programme Woman’s Hour launched the Woman’s Hour Power List 2014, which this year will identify the top 10 female ‘game changers’ operating in the United Kingdom today. Women resident in the UK  who are “changing the rules in culture, society and business” in our country.

The Power List will be drawn up by a panel of 5, from candidates suggested by expert witnesses and Radio 4 listeners. In the programme, Emma Barnett (panel chair) and Rachel Johnson (panel member) were interviewed live as to their criteria for choosing the 10 (we also heard from other panel members via taped interviews).

It became clear that though they expected to be considering high profile whistle-blowers and twitter campaigners, they were not looking for women already household names but those who within their sphere had “game-changed”.  Women who were not close to traditional sources of power i.e. with easy access to parliament, but who were influencing lives to make them better.  

Age was not to be a limitation, for teenage girls have game-changed on the world stage, such as Malala Yousafzai who has influenced education of girls in the Arab world and in Pakistan.

Last year’s Woman’s Hour Power List had 100 names, an average age over 50, and many well-known. They want this 2014 list to be younger and have unexpected names:  a list to make people sit up and think “wow I never knew about her!”

The interviewer suggested a name, which they all agreed was exactly the kind of person for the list, and this name caused my ears to perk up!  It was Fahma Mohamed, the teenage female genital mutilation (FGM) campaigner who, supported by the Guardian newspaper, recently ran a petition to lobby the government to address FGM in the UK. Here in the UK, schoolgirls are sent away for "summer cutting".

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Epigenetics: epi what?

Pity the poor editor on BBC’s news programme  “Breakfast” (11 jan 2011) subtitling, as Professor Robert Winston and others discussed the possibility of gender selection to "complete your family in the way you desire" i.e. to finally achieve that longed for girl or boy.

Throughout the discussion the text editor had kept up admirably, coping with explanations of these gender selection techniques:

  • at fertilisation (by enriching for male sperm)
  • pre-implantation (by removing a cell from a fertilised embryo to check the sex.

 (Both techniques are tried and tested. Sperm enrichment is used for cattle breeding and pre-implantation tests are used to select healthy embryos without a gender-linked genetic defect)

 In vivo fertilisation was rendered accurately too, which just shows how much the public has come to know and understand about IVF since it was first introduced all those years ago.

Then Professor Winston mentioned in passing “epigenetic influences” which was transcribed rapidly onto my TV screen as “EDGE THE GENETIC”!

Clearly the editor hadn’t a clue. So I’ve decided to define (& explain) for you the term “epigenetic” so that you will.  Along the way, I hope, you emerge fascinated…

 

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