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Two City Councillors Start ‘Women Are Here’ Podcast

Newly elected Cambridge City Councillors Alanna M. Mallon and Sumbul Siddiqui launched a podcast titled “Women Are Here” on Jan. 24 with a conversation that touched on subjects ranging from Cardi B to public works.

In the podcast, Mallon and Siddiqui shared their experiences as women legislators. The idea for the project emerged while the two were campaigning last year and started talking “jokingly” about producing a podcast, Siddiqui said.

But after Mallon and Siddiqui both won positions on the council last fall, they approached Cambridge Community Television to make the podcast a reality.

“Both of us being elected for the first time and being women in this wave of women legislators that are running and winning,” Mallon said. “We just wanted to catalogue that journey together, and hopefully people can come along with us.”

The title of the podcast came from the words of poet Eileen Myles, who Siddiqui quoted in a speech at the Cambridge Women’s March in January. Mallon and Siddiqui said the event resonated with them.

“The woman turning, that’s the revolution. The room is gigantic, the woman is here,” Myles wrote in the statement, which became the titular inspiration for the podcast.

In this election year, a record number of women are running for public office across the U.S., according to TIME Magazine. Locally last fall, four out of nine councillors elected to the Cambridge City Council were women. The two candidates that received the most votes were also women.

“I think there’s a real appetite right now to see women leading and working together and seeing what it would look like to have more women in politics,” Mallon said.

The latest episode of the podcast included guest speaker Police Superintendent Christine A. Elow, who discussed Cambridge policing practices with the councillors.

“We want to focus on women leaders and community members so that more people know about the important work that’s being done and the important women who are doing it,” Siddiqui said.

The podcast also strives to keep residents up-to-date with the proceedings of the city, especially during periods like non-election years, when people feel less connected to politics, Mallon said.

“We thought, it’s kind of an ageless thing—Sumbul’s generation, my generation, everyone listens to podcasts,” Mallon said. “We just felt like it’d be a good, easy way for people to stay engaged if we made it fun and interesting.”

Mallon and Siddiqui said they hope the podcast will help Cantabrigians better understand issues the council is working on in an “easily digestible” way. The podcast allows them to communicate with the public so residents can see them as “real people,” Siddiqui said.

As city councillors, Mallon and Siddiqui are in a position to see the inner workings of the municipal government, Mallon said. With the podcast, the two hope the public will be able to better see the work the city accomplishes, she said.

“For us, we get to see it everyday, but we want to make sure it translates to our residents,” Mallon said. “I think it’s really about highlighting these amazing women but also the amazing things our city is doing that’s not really seen by the general public.”

—Staff writer Patricia J. Liu can be reached at patricia.liu@thecrimson.com.

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