April on women’s parliamentary radio




Well,  let’s unashamedly use my blog to promote the work of all our journalists on www.wpradio.co.uk this parliamentary session. January, February and March are always busy months for us as International Women’s Day approaches and we attend the various events in and around Westminster to promote it.  There’s alot of new content with women and men MPs talking of their work for and on behalf of women here and internationally. Do go to www.wpradio.co.uk and listen.  Thanks to all, Georgie Hemmingway in particulary, our new reporter.

Here’s what we have been doing:

John Bercow, the Conservative MP for Buckingham, has spoken to Women’s Parliamentary Radio of why he thinks that even in a recession the National Minimum Wage should be increased to help low paid women workers in particular. A strong advocate for women’s rights and an International Women’s Day, Mr Bercow spoke up on behalf of all those hundreds of thousands of women who work below the National Minimum Wage. He believes that there is a case for increasing the national minimum wage, particularly during a recession.

John Bercow MP said: “The National Minimum Wage, “could usefully be increased”.  He continued: “I have argued that there seemed to me to be quite a powerful case in the present economic climate for increasing it somewhat more sharply. This may seem counter intuitive in a recession but I think there would be a good case for a sizeable increase which would boost the spending power of the lowest paid workers and that might actually generate a bit of demand in the economy.

“I think there is room for blue sky thinking in the Low Pay Commission, and over a period of time I think it would be perfectly affordable.”

Mr Bercow MP also supports Labour’s Deputy Leader, Harriet Harman MP’s quest for a new Equality Bill. “I don’t regard it as something that can be signed up to by only Labour or Liberal Democrat politicians, I have long been a supporter of Equality legislation and I think the government should get on with it. My attitude as a Conservative is to be pragmatic, the issue is what works, does it help, is it fair and will the Country benefit?

“My view is that a sensible, reasonable, carefully thought through piece of Equality legislation can be of great advantage to the Country and my attitude is that if the Labour Party doesn’t get on with it then the next Conservative government should, and I hope in the national interests that the government will not procrastinate and delay and I wish Harriet Harman MP well in her internal discussions. “

wpradio.co.uk also talks to the Liberal Democrat Equality Campaigner, Dr Evan Harris MP, who attempted to introduce a Private Member’s Bill to modernise our monarchy. He wanted to allow a woman to be first in succession to the throne rather than being superseded by a younger male sibling, the so called rule of “primogeniture”.

Dr Harris’s “Royal Marriage and Succession to the Crown Bill” also wanted to allow those in the line of succession to the throne to marry a Catholic. He said:”The idea that deep at the heart of our constitution there is something so sexist as that and anti-Catholic means that it doesn’t serve our reputation very well as a Country and I think it is an opportunity for the government to live up to its commitment to get rid of unjustified discrimination wherever it exists even at the heart of the establishment.”

Wpradio.co.uk International section has spoken to Betsy Kawamura, an international campaigner against gender based violence who took her story to the UN recently. Herself a victim of gender based violence in Okinawa during the Vietnam war, Betsy, believes the voice of past victims of gender based violence can help heal others. She has told her story in USA, Japan, Europe, Sri Lanka and now at the UN to help raise awareness of all those exposed to GBV, including militarized GBV, prostitution and trafficking on an international level. Now she talks to writer Barbara Gorna about her work.

Betsy Kawamura said:“The most important thing is to provide a clear voice at the UN as a representative of someone who has overcome gender based violence providing a strategy at top level for conflict and peace building.”

The interview took place in the House of Commons by the permanent exhibition to the suffragettes and the scarf of Emily Wilding Davison who died staging a protest after being knocked down by the King’s horse at Epsom races.

Wpradio went back to “school” with The Parliamentary Education Service for a House of Commons “Question Time”, for women students to explore how they could become our women MPs of the future. The students listened to speeches and talked about why Parliament would be a better place with more women politicians, and those from ethnic minorities. Boni Sones spoke to the Labour MP Anne Begg , Vice-Chair of the new Speaker’s Conference, which is debating the issue, Baroness Hayman, the Speaker in the House of Lords and to the young women students themselves.

Anne Begg said:”Hopefully we will get consensus through the Speaker’s Conference, I am an optimist, and certainly we are going to try to get more women into Parliament.”

 Baroness Hayman said.”I think it is important that a Parliament represents its community. It is very important that politics in the widest sense is open to everybody and that there aren’t barriers to participation.”

Other new interviews on wpradio.co.uk includes a special 30 minute radio documentary and podcast with Seema Malholtra of Fabian Women’s Network marching with the 6,000 One Million Women Rise protestors against Gender Based Violence in London to celebrate International Women’s Day.

As Seema Malhotra walked with the protestors from beginning to end, she heard why women, families and children turned up in such large numbers to stop the violence against women here and in countries like the Congo.

Our new reporter, Georgie Hemmingway interviews on our International Section, Lucy Changme, the deputy minister for gender and women in development in the Zambian government. She is passionate about improving the education of girls, and getting more women into politics. Georgie caught up with her recently at a One World Action event to celebrate International Women’s Day 09.

Lucy told Georgie how she was pushing ahead with a gender based violence Bill in Zambia this year.