6 Women-led Politics Podcasts to Add to Your Library

Mar 08th

As a women-led politics podcast breaks into the top ten in the podcast charts, Francesca Turauskis is using International Women’s Day 2024 as a chance to inspire your political podcast listening and support these women-led shows…

Take a look at the most popular shows on podcasts apps and you’ll consistently find The Rest Is Politics in the top ten. Many podcasts have tried to emulate the success of the show’s Alastair Campbell and Rory Stewart pairing, but whilst many choose hosts that are unlikely political partners, they are always similar in demographic. The phenomenon even has its own Guardian name: ‘the dadcast’.) Considering how much politics shapes the gender inequalities we see, it’s disappointing when we can’t hear women’s voices in the discourse.

Sky News have finally branched out with their new politics podcast Electoral Dysfunction, making it to the top of the charts. The setup is similar to The Rest Is Politics, with Sky Political Journalist Beth Rigby joined by Labour MP Jess Phillips and Scottish Conservative MP Ruth Davidson as they talk about current affairs in a way that is civil.

We have success: a women-hosted political show is popular! Yet cynically I can’t quite celebrate Electoral Dysfunction’s success. Perhaps it’s that they are trying to “attract people in that don’t necessarily live and breathe politics” by… having three hosts who live and breathe politics?

Perhaps it’s that I can’t help but feel that if a person of colour was involved, the first minute of Electoral Dysfunction wouldn’t include the phrase “my Asian friend told me…”. It was mentioned during the obligatory ‘generic chat’ portion of the episode and came across as tokenistic.

It’s also because I know that Electoral Dysfunction’s success has no doubt been helped along by the investment in the release that many worthy shows don’t get – with press releases, news coverage from their parent company and high-profile app features, it wouldn’t necessarily need to be good to be popular.

The official UN theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #InvestInWomen. Championing gender equality and specifically #EqualityInAudio is central to the Content Is Queen ethos but this year I am using it to recommend these women-led political podcasts I think deserve to be in the charts too…

Surviving Society

Readers of our newsletter will recognise Surviving Society from our Community Spotlight. This weekly political podcast explores both UK and global politics with a focus on race and class from a sociological perspective. The host, Dr Chantelle J Lewis, brings both professional and personal experience to the topics and invites guests to talk about their different areas of expertise. A recent episode “E190: Skinfolk, but not kinfolk? Ethnic minority conservative political elite actors” explores the increase in ethnic minority representation in the right-wing, conservative parties of the UK. Because Chantelle and her guest are approaching from an academic perspective, the talk is in-depth and perhaps not for a casual listener – but a must for those who follow politics closely. Listen here.

Wood For The Trees

The winner of the ‘Politics and News’ category in last year’s Independent Podcast Awards, Wood For The Trees is hosted by Cait Macleod and explores issues she describes as ‘messy’ – for example legalising drugs or prison reform. Cait’s background in competitive debating is perhaps what gives her the confidence to enter these conversations, and she often interviews guests with opposing opinions. What’s also interesting is how she draws on global examples and experts, in particular looking to South Africa and Scandinavia. This is currently a short-run series and its last episode was in May 2023, but the topics aren’t especially time sensitive so it’s worth heading back to. Listen here.

If I Speak

This is more about personal affairs than current affairs, but If I Speak approaches personal dilemmas from the political point of view (and vice-versa). A new podcast that follows the ‘mates chatting’ genre, Ash Sarkar from Novara Media is joined by her friend and colleague Moya Lothian-McLean to discuss current trending topics, and tackle listener dilemmas. Moya’s podcast with Broccoli Productions, Human Resources, adeptly tackled the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade and here she and Ash bring this type of background knowledge to topics such as the hyper-sexualisation of Houthis on social media, and a listener wondering whether to give her mum an allowance. Listen here.

Media Storm

Media Storm has seen a lot of success since it began in 2021, and it investigates wider political issues more than current affairs. Mathilda Mallinson and Helena Wadia speak to people that news stories are normally about, and episodes have covered stories such as gender self-identification law, medical cannabis and sex work. As they said in the notes for the episode on ‘Gaza and Beyond’: “We cannot hand our listeners the truth, but we can better equip you to identify it.” It’s a good example of really striving for balance in who they speak to. Listen here. 

The Trawl

I will caveat this recommendation by saying that The Trawl doesn’t focus on analysis like some shows, and the commentary can focus too much on the personal rather than the political for my liking. However, when Electoral Dysfunction claimed they were the first women-led podcast talking about politics, the hosts and fans of The Trawl duly corrected them on (fittingly) Twitter. Broadcaster, Jemma Forte, and political commentator Marina Purkiss have been commenting on the news cycle for nearly two years by scrolling through Twitter so that listeners don’t have to. The pair are proudly biased against the government and make good fun of the week’s events, so this is a good place to listen to others venting about the state of UK politics – and there’s definitely a need for that. Listen here.

Not BAME Podcast

An independent show I found that is worth a quick nod, despite being ad-hoc with episodes, because it analyses current affairs as they happened from a Black, millennial viewpoint. Hosts Cory and Bay discuss what has happened in the UK political week, but the last episode was back in November 2023 – a long time in politics, and an eternity with the current government. However, it is worth keeping an ear to the ground to see if it returns… Listen here.

If you’d like people to be listening to your new show in 2024, get in touch! We’d love to see you in the studio some time.