The Speaking Together Media Award

On International Women’s Day 8 March 2013, as part of the Migrant and Refugee Woman of the Year award celebration at the Royal Festival Hall in London, we launched an award for outstanding media coverage of women and migration.

The winner in the print category is Zoe Williams (pictured), for her illuminating work in the Guardian on the housing situation facing asylum seekers, and particularly the story of Chawada Matiwala. The winner in the online category is Len Grant (pictured)for the blog Life Without Papers, which shines a light into the hidden lives of undocumented families. The winner in the broadcast category is Jackie Long for her important report for Channel 4 News on chaos in the UK Border Agency and the impact that this has had on one individual refugee woman.

Our judges for the inaugural award are Gillian Slovo, novelist and playwright; Hannah Pool, journalist and author; Yasmeen Khan, broadcaster, writer and performer; and Julia Hobsbawm, founder of Editorial Intelligence, and honorary visiting professor in networking at Cass Business School.


Annie Brown, Daily Record, ‘Roma community clean up city streets as they try to integrate into Scottish Society’ , 1 February 2012   

“In any community, you will find good and bad. We are very often blamed for the mess but we are working in surrounding areas where the Roma don’t live and they are in a mess.”

Maxine Frith, Evening Standard, ‘Iranian Refugee turns Hell’s Angels drinking den in Camden into 1 million success winner’, 26 June 2012 

“I had threats and some dodgy moments and I had to bar a lot of people, but I just held my ground. Once the clientele was sorted, we started attracting new types of people and it all took off from there.”

Zoe Williams, The Guardian, ‘Evicting asylum seekers? We just follow orders’, 14 December 2012

‘The asylum process has never been pleasant, but when local authorities had most of the border agency contacts, at least they didn’t use hostels and tended to take into account, when evicting people, whether or not they were in labour at the time.’


Len Grant, Life Without Papers: stories of undocumented migrant families and young people

“When you have a child you have to ignore your own feelings and think about what you can do to make the day more lively for her, do you understand? If you think too much then it’s really depressing and that can affect Dyanna. I don’t want her to be always thinking, ‘why is Mummy worried? I just want her to be a normal child, a very normal child. A happy one.”

Latefa Guemar, The Guardian Online,  ‘Academic refugees, ‘My hope is to contribute to this country – if I’m given the opportunity’  6 January 2012

“I face challenges and think often about the irony of having left Algeria and fled persecution only to have to suffer racism. I’ve coped well. My husband hasn’t been so lucky and his health has severely deteriorated.”

Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi, New Statesman online, ‘UK Border Agency can’t do the most basic aspects of its job’ , 7 July 2012 

‘When Gladys made an application for bail from Yarl’s Wood, the agency claimed to have no record of her initial asylum claim. This meant she had to start her entire asylum application from scratch


Jackie Long at Channel 4 News asks ‘Is the UK Border Agency fit for purpose? A damning report by the chief inspector of borders and immigration has raised serious questions over the UK Border Agency’s competence’

“Labour shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant has described the chief inspector’s report as “utterly damning” and called border staff’s efforts “slapdash”.The Commons home affairs select committee has previously warned that the border agency was unable to fulfil basic functions and was tarnishing the reputation of the government.”

Ronke Phillips reports for ITV News on how refugees celebrate the Queen’s jubilee in London                

“England means a lot to me because in my culture they don’t accept a woman who is divorced or separated from her husband”

Tim Whewell’s film for BBC Newsnight about a Libyan rebel who had to flee to the UK as the revolution soured for women 

“Now the city on the edge of the North Sea, where she knows no-one, has become her temporary home.The irony of her situation is clear: ‘It’s very bad that you put yourself in danger to work hard for this revolution,’ she says. ‘And then in the end you have to leave it because it’s not a safe place for you anymore.’”

The Judges

Gillian Slovo is a South African born novelist, playwright and memoirist. Her 2000 novel Red Dust was made into a major feature film, her 2004 novel Ice Road was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. Her 1997 memoir, Every Secret Thing: My Family, My Country, is an account of her South African activist family. She is also the author of the plays Guantanamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom and The Riots, and president of English PEN.



Hannah Pool was a Guardian journalist for 14 years. She is now a freelance journalist, writing regularly for the Guardian, the Times, Grazia, and others. Her memoir, My Fathers’ Daughter, is a chronicle of her return to Eritrea to find her birth family, and was described by the Washington Post as “a significant and moving book.” Hannah is a curator of talks and debates at the Southbank Centre and Associate Editor of ARISE Magazine.



Yasmeen Khan is a freelance broadcaster, journalist and public relations consultant. She presents documentaries for BBC Radio 4 on topics ranging from street harassment of women to British Asian issues. Yasmeen is also a playwright and performer, with two new plays currently commissioned. Yasmeen has PR expertise across corporate and arts sectors.




Julia Hobsbawm is the world’s first Professor in Networking at Cass Business School in London and the founder of the media, analysis and knowledge networking business Editorial Intelligence. She is the editor of Where the Truth Lies: Trust & Morality in the Business of PR, Journalism and Communication, co-author of The Power of the Commentariat with John Lloyd of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, and author of a study of the work-life balance, The See-Saw. Julia is a patron of the Facial Surgery Research Foundation (Saving Faces) and the Zoe Sarojini Trust, Vice-President of the Hay Festival for Literature