In the interview – part of a series in which leading women reveal the woman who has inspired them most– Professor Bown talks about helping women in Africa to read and write and the joys of fostering twin daughters. It is now available to listen to on the BBC iPlayer.
‘I started to read books about Africa and that really urged me on,’ she told Woman’s Hour. ‘Once I got to Oxford I met the man who afterwards became the first African President of the United Nations general assembly (Alex Quaison-Sackey) and very talented African fellow students. That brought the whole thing thoroughly alive.’
Professor Bown, who is an Emeritus Professor of Adult & Continuing Education at the University of Glasgow, was nominated by Elizabeth Hodgkin – board member of the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies and daughter of Dorothy Hodgkin. In the clip, which is available to listen to here, Dr Hodgkin spoke of how she first met Professor Bown when she was working in Zambia at the same time as her father, Thomas Hodgkin.
Elizabeth Hodgkin holds a PhD in History. She worked as a human rights researcher with Amnesty International from the late 1980s and is the author of numerous human rights reports for Amnesty and others. An Arabic speaker, she taught Medieval History at the University of Khartoum in the 1970s, and was one of the founders of the Sudan Update newsletter in the late 1980s.
Dr Hodgkin was asked about witnessing her mother receive the Nobel prize in 1964, after Dorothy Hodgkin discovered the chemical structures of penicillin and vitamin B12. When asked what the prize meant to her mother, she replied, ‘It validated her life. If she hadn’t have won the Nobel Prize, no one would have ever heard of her. She was a modest person who was only interested in the joy of work and finding things out.’