A Message to Emily? International Women’s Day 2011

Women’s Parliamentary Radio

For immediate release: March 25th 2011

A Message to Emily? And what a “swell” party it was – Speaker’s House and International Women’s Day 2011!

In a special http://www.wpradio.co.uk “A message to Emily” three part radio documentary journalists Linda Fairbrother and Boni Sones OBE criss-cross the State Rooms of Speaker’s House to record interviews with women parliamentarians across party and their guests while they celebrated together 100 years of International Women’s Day.

On 2nd April 1911 a lone suffragette, Emily Wilding Davison hid herself in the broom cupboard in the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, in the crypt of St Stephen’s Hall, Westminster, on the night of the census so that she could give her address as the House of Commons.

100 years later there was no need to hide. The Speaker John Bercow opened the doors of his State Rooms to the women MPs from all parties with their friends and special guests from campaigning organisations to mark the Centenary of International Women’s Day.

Emily who died after pinning a sash to the King’s horse at the Epsom races would have been wide-eyed at being allowed into the State Rooms, Speaker’s House, House of Commons. The 16th March party was organised by three women MPs Mary Macleod MP, Kate Green MP and Jo Swinson MP from Conservative, Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

If walls could have ears? No need – Women’s Parliamentary Labour Party journalists Linda Fairbrother and Boni Sones captured this sound portrait in this special three part documentary “A Message to Emily?

The Home Secretary and Minister for Women, The Rt Hon Theresa May MP told http://www.wpradio.co.uk:

• “Lynne Featherstone MP has taken on the responsibility as International Champion on violence against women, we have worked hard on violence against women and girls. I chair an inter-ministerial group on Violence Against Women and Girls, it brings all departments together, DFID and others, and we will be able to champion the need to deal with violence against women internationally which blights the lives of many.”

• “To those who say we haven’t done enough I would point to the work we have done. We have published a strategy against violence against women and girls, we have found a permanent solution to women fleeing domestic violence, we have been able to find extra money for rape crisis centres and produce sustainable funding for them the next three years. “

• “In the Home Office despite all the budget cuts we have been able to protect £28 million of expenditure over the next four years for dealing with violence against women and girls, I think we have made some very important steps. We are great supporters of the new UN Agency for Women, and we are looking for that agency to be able to promote the needs of women across the World.”

• “My message to Emily would be we are not complacent and we are still fighting.”

Yvette Cooper MP, the Labour Shadow Home Secretary said:

• “Domestically the issue is making sure we don’t turn the clock back on progress and that you don’t narrow women’s opportunities instead of expanding them. Internationally there are still huge issues in terms of violence against women, and their participation in the political process and debates about women’s lives as well”.
• “It is always right to have international debate and international solidarity about opportunities for women in every country in the World and we have to make sure that is part of British foreign policy it is not just something that is dismissed or ignored. It is also about listening to women’s experiences in other countries and hearing what they themselves are saying.”

Jo Swinson MP, the Liberal Democrat PPS to Vince Cable said:

• “On women’s representation we have moved this issue forward we have got more women elected. There are still barriers we need to address in terms of the way Parliament works and issues of how you juggle the demands of being an MP with family life, and the wider social issue about how men and women split caring responsibilities and the pay gap, standing for Parliament is not cost neutral.”

• “There are a lot of talented women out there who look at Parliament and say “why would I want to be part of that?” We have a job to do in selling the job. Women MPs love the job they do and they can make a difference in their communities and this is the bit that gets lost we need to say “this is why this is a great job to do!”

Speaker Bercow said:

• “International Women’s Day reminds us that we have a duty in whatever our capacity to do something to make a difference for women internationally. These rooms are State Rooms and what better use than to use them to fight the cause for women and equality. We congratulate the trail blazers but there is still a great deal to do and we must get on to do it!”

• “We’re celebrating women in Parliament, but crucially for me is the fact that however many battles we think we have to fight here in the UK, there are women in the World with far more serious circumstances to deal with and we must never forget that.”

Boni Sones, Executive Producer of http://www.wpradio.co.uk said: “www.wpradio.co.uk would like to thank all those who gave interviews to us to celebrate and record for the social history books our “Message to Emily? three part radio documentary to celebrate 100 years of International Women’s Day. Special thanks to the Speaker John Bercow, for allowing us into the State Rooms, and to the organisers Mary Macleod MP, Kate Green MP, Jo Swinson MP. It was as ever, great fun, to be with so many committed and passionate women in one room and hear their special messages to the suffragette Emily Wilding Davison. Women’s Political representation was an issue many told us needed to be put to the fore in our Parliament.”

In Part One Boni spoke to:

Caroline Adams from the women’s Parliamentary Labour Party and organiser, Barbara Gorna and Joan Lane film producer. Vicky Booth, Diversity Officer for the Liberal Democrats, Fiona Mactaggart MP and Lydia Simmons. Barbara Keeley MP, Fawcett acting CEO Anna Bird, Sharon Hodgson MP, Sue Tibballs of the Women’s Sports Foundation. Joan Ruddock MP and Councillor Joan Millbank. Maria Eagle MP and Yvette Cooper MP.

In Part Two Boni spoke to:

Baroness Elspeth Howe, Baroness Hussein-Ece. Cherie Blair and Sarina Russo. Lorley Burt MP and Helen Berresford, Kealey Hastick from Platform 51. Helen Grant MP and Martha Kearney BBC journalist. Harriet Harman MP, The speaker John Bercow MP and last but not least the most senior woman in the Cabinet, the Home Secretary and Minister for Women Theresa May MP.

In Part Three Linda spoke to:

Nan Sloane from the Centre for Women and Democracy, Margaret Beckett MP, Baroness Ramsay, Kate Green MP, Lesley Abdela from Shevolution, John Bercow MP, Caroline Spelman MP, and Lee Chalmers of the Downing Street Project, Liberal Democrat supporter Dinti Batstone, Jo Swinson M.

1. Wpradio.co.uk is a web based broadcaster supported by all parties. Latest web stats show that in May 2010 we had our highest audience ever with 3,913 visitors, there were over 1,000 more visitors in June and July too compared to last year and even August increased. We don’t share our content with others in order to inflate our stats, you have to visit our website to listen to our content.

2. Our web stats show that our visitors are loyal, they return, tune in for some time and to more than one item. We have doubled our audience in a year. In July we published our Top Ten podcasts for that month. The top 8 all had over 100 downloads per podcast. Shirley Williams is hugely popular with 777 listeners to one podcast! The Oona King diaries are proving popular too.

3. wpradio also carries international content and has interviews with women MEPs in Europe, and women politicians in Africa and the Middle East.

4. Our supporters include Theresa May MP, Jo Swinson MP, Harriet Harman MP,and many other female politicians listed on our site. Jackie Ashley, of the Guardian, is our Chair.

5. The British Library archives all the interviews on wpradio.co.uk in its new web collection.

6. For more information contact Boni Sones OBE on 07703 716961.


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