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Picking up the trail where the suffragettes left off – a Cambridge win for Westminster’s women MPs

2015_news_cbrbonisonesaward

The Cambridge-based web production company of CBR policy associate Boni Sones OBE has been internationally recognised for a two-part radio documentary it produced about women in parliament.

The ParliamentaryRadio.com documentary on the 10 Labour women who stepped down from Parliament in May 2015 after clocking up 200 years of service as MPs in their constituencies can be listened to at bonisonesproductions.com/wpradio.

Throwing in the Towel – How Labour Women MPs Fought to Change Westminster Politics was produced and reported on by Boni Sones OBE, and a team of three other journalists from the Eastern Region: Jackie Ashley of The Guardian and now President of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge; Deborah McGurran, BBC Political Editor, East of England, and Linda Fairbrother, formerly of Anglia TV, who also lives in Cambridge and was the High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire.

They were assisted by Dr Paul Seaward, Director of the History of Parliament Trust, who lives in Cambridge and who has now deposited all of the interviews in his Archives for safekeeping for historians of the future.

The list of those interviewed for the documentary includes two former Secretaries of State, Tessa Jowell and Hazel Blears, and five former ministers or junior ministers; Anne McGuire, Meg Munn, Dawn Primarolo, Glenda Jackson and Joan Ruddock, as well as former parliamentary private secretary Sian James and committee chair Joan Walley. Their colleague Linda Riordan, another committee stalwart, also stood down in May 2010.

A collaborative print article in The Guardian that quoted from the interviews was shared over 9,000 times.

Boni Sones OBE said: “This international recognition for our teams work over the past eight years has given us all a big boost. ParliamentaryRadio.com was one of the first “as live” web broadcasts and we have now really come of age. I would like to thank all the MPs across party, women and men, who have encouraged us as a team of experienced women broadcast journalists to keep our broadcaster alive and up to the minute with our audio podcasts recorded in Westminster each week on public policy issues and changes to the law which are of concern to women and their families.

“We would like to thank the IAWRT (International Association of Women in Radio & Television) judges for recognising the importance of these broadcasts when so many other inequalities in the world deserve recognition too. Getting better coverage of the work all women MPs in Westminster do and have done is important if we ever want to achieve a 50/50 gender-based parliament. There are still more men in parliament today than there have ever been women, just 450 since 1918. We are delighted to have played a small part in that battle, that began with the suffragettes eventually achieving the vote for all women in 1928.

“This award honours us and them too, but pushing this boulder up-hill has been a real team effort. Producing this engaging radio and setting up our two historic audio archives of our 350 women MPs interviews at the London School of Economics and the British Library, and our two published books, has taken a great deal of production know-how and our many supporters in Parliament are brilliant. We couldn’t have done it without the support of women MPs across party, new and established ones. We are very popular and just like the suffragettes we are determined to: ‘never give up the fight’.”

The IAWRT judges said: “The Throwing in the Towel interviews revealed the struggle women MPs had to get even small things done, such as a childcare centre, or a family room for members of parliament. They spoke about their continuous struggle to be heard and respected. ParliamentaryRadio.com has been influential in gaining recognition for women members of parliament since it first began broadcasting in 2007.”