Dubai: Millions of Non Resident Indian (NRI) women now have an online platform to be heard, literally, thanks to a podcast service exclusively launched for them by two friends from Dubai.
‘NRI Woman’, had begun as a Facebook page in 2016 by Bettina Tauro and Ninorah Brookshire, two Indian expat women who became friends in Dubai.
“It began with the intention of starting conversations with other like-minded women around the world,” said Brookshire, who was born and raised in Dubai.
However, in one of the conversations, she said, it occurred to them that women should be heard and not just be read about.
The duo told Gulf News that they realised that women were more forthcoming to narrate their stories in an audio format, rather than in videos, especially when they want to share subjects that deal with emotional issues.
“We couldn’t find anything that “talks” exclusively to Indian women outside India. Thus ‘NRI Woman’ podcast came along,” said Tauro, who has been living in Dubai since 2002.
Launched in March 2018, coinciding with the International Women’s Day celebrations, the platform that is available for iOS and Android users has aired 31 podcasts and is launching the second season on Monday.
Women who are experts in their fields, those who have been through a life experience that they have learnt from and want to share, or just have a unique story, have been chosen as guests for the weekly podcast.
The hosts said they have chatted with women across the world covering a range of subjects — dealing with anxiety and depression, raising kids as a single parent, coping with the loss of a child, giving up one’s career and moving for love and more.
In the first year, the podcast was downloaded over 11,000 times. The website www.nriwoman.com which airs the show with the tagline ‘Stories worth listening to’ is supplemented by social media accounts that now have more than 6,000 members.
NRI Woman was nominated in the ‘society-culture category’ in Podcast Awards 2018 and became the finalist in the ‘people’s choice category’ in the Discover Pods Awards, where it was shortlisted from over 6,000 entries.
“We have had pretty diverse topics. We have had women from various places like the UAE, US, Africa, Singapore, Hong Kong etc sharing their stories,” said Brookshire, who moved to the US last year and was on a visit to Dubai last week.
“We touch upon subjects that are very hard for women to share publicly due to our culture. We are now breaking that barrier and kind of coming where people are willing to open up and talk about such matters.”
They cited examples of a survivor of incest sharing the trauma she went through in her adolescence, and that of another woman, who was abandoned at age three by her mother after her divorce, sharing her experience of living as a stranger next door to her mother when she remarried and had two other children.
Stories of determination and desire also struck a chord with the audience — like in the case of a divorced mum sharing how she brought up her kids by herself in Dubai and a 21-year-old pilot narrating how she chased her dream career from age six.
Once, NRI Woman also hosted an NRI man. “That was when his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. We encouraged him to share his side of the story so that people have a better perspective as to what happens to the spouse in such scenarios,” said Tauro.
In the next season, NRI Woman has plans to host another man, who gave up his career to move to the UK for his wife, worked from home and looked after his children. Another special guest would be a transgender, the hosts said.
Though they talk to Indian women, the hosts said the stories resonate with all women.
“We have had feedback from women of other nationalities on how some of the episodes impacted them, made them feel that they are not alone in going through some experiences,” said Tauro.
Brookshire said the podcast also offers new cultural perspectives. “It is also helping the western world learn that Indian women’s world is ‘not just about Bollywood, butter chicken and bindi’.”