Posted on Monday, February 22nd, 2016
Sisters of Frida CIC is an experimental collective of disabled women. We want a new way of sharing experiences, mutual support and relationships with different networks.
Sisters of Frida started at a meeting when we floated the idea of having a disabled women’s group. It took some time to come together – the co founders were Eleanor Lisney, Michelle Daley, Eleanor Firman, Maria Zedda, Svetlana Kotova, Frieda Van De Poll and Martine Miel. We became a CIC in 2014.
We are seeking to build a/or different networks of disabled women.Â The barriers and multiple discrimination have not changed, we struggle to have our voices heard as disabled women in our own rights.
We would like a sisterhood, a circle of disabled women to discuss, share experiences and explore intersectional possibilities.
Facebook group (for UK residents) : https://www.facebook.com/groups/sisofrida/
Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/sistersoffrida/
Posted on Monday, December 12th, 2016
Thanks to Carly Findlay for permission to repost this paragraph. She addresses some of the responses we get from society as disabled women – that we are scary because of our impairments such as what happened to Cerrie Burnell and Rhiam Dean both in 2009 at their work place. We would like to think that things have improved since then but it is not just our employers who discriminate against us but it can also happen with employees too.
Posted on Monday, November 21st, 2016
To feed into the Womenâ€™s Resource Centresâ€™ (WRC) research into Why Women-Only services matter.
Save the date!
Saturday, 10th December
Arrive from 1:30 (tea and coffee available), 2-4pm Focus Group.
Unit 3 Marquis Estate, St Pauls Road N1 2SY.
The Number 30 and 277 runs past us and we are a short walk from Canonbury Station which is fully wheelchair accessible.
We would like between 8 â€“ 15 women who access / are a part of Sisters of Frida to be participants in one of our focus groups.
We would provide all women service users who participate in the focus group Â£30 as a small thank you.
WRC are updating their Why Women-Only research, originally completed in 2007. WRC’s members want this research updated because the need for robust, concrete evidence of the importance and value of women-only services remains vital. The link to the original research is here:
We are running 6 focus groups, with a range of diverse women-only services. In the focus group I will ask questions about why accessing a ‘by women for women’ service is important to them, and what difference coming to a women-only service has made to their lives; what being in a peer-led group means to them, and what kind of issues they are exploring through Sisters of Frida. I will be facilitating the focus groups, which will each run for a maximum of two hours.
The focus groups will be completely confidential. No service user will be identified in the research. I will record focus groups on a Dictaphone, and transcriptions will be used to outline themes, and to use quotes. You can get a copy of the focus group transcript if you wish.
The research is due to be published in March 2017.
Focus groups conducted by Darlene Corry. Please send n email to email@example.com if interested.
Posted on Tuesday, November 1st, 2016
After the 4 workshops on disability and sexuality, Sisters of Frida is presenting films which explore themes of disability and sexuality.
Films to make you:Â Think, feel, laugh, shake, desire and moreâ€¦..
With food and discussion
Please note the films contain controversial themes, they also contain scenes of nudity and frank explicit discussion of sexual acts and sexual desire as well as scenes depicting violence.
Date and Time
Sat 26 November 2016, 12:00 â€“ 17:00 GMT
Disability Action In Islington, unit 3 Marquess Estate
St Paul’s Road, London N1 2SY
Please register at the event briteÂ or write to firstname.lastname@example.org
(A rebellious young woman with cerebral palsy leaves her home in India to study in New York, unexpectedlyfalls in love, and embarks on an exhilarating journey of self-discovery.
With Kalki Koechlin, Revathy, Sayani Gupta)
and Sins Invalid
(“Sins Invalid is a performance project on disability and sexuality that incubates and celebrates artists with disabilities, centralizing artists of color and queer and gender-variant artists as communities who have been historically marginalized from social discourse”)
Please register at the event briteÂ
or write to email@example.comÂ
Posted on Sunday, October 16th, 2016
Folks at Queer cafe were kind enough to invite Sisters of Frida to give a talkÂ 2nd October and offered to donate their takings for the evening.
Dyi Huijg and Eleanor Lisney went along that night and Dyi gave a talk on disability. We had a lively Questions and Answers session after the talk. We also had some excellent vegan food.
Thank you Queer Cafe people for being so kind and generous and giving us a great welcome!
They can be contacted at @queercaff
Posted on Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
Sisters of Frida was invited to give a workshop at the Plan UK #Standupforgirls Youth Action Fest last Saturday following the success of last year’s event. We were lucky that Fleur Perry agreed to help us run a workshop on Inclusive Campaigning.
Eleanor and Fleur had about 10 participants – we discussed access and showed a couple of videos and quite a few discussions. Participants were incensed to hear of Fleur’s difficulties to get to the event because her issues with wheelchair spaces on the train. We discussed disability itself and what it is – it was good to hear their perceptions and solutions towards more awareness. It was clear that they enjoyed Fleurs’s delivery and that she enjoyed it too.
Posted on Tuesday, October 11th, 2016
When we were in NYC at the UNCSW in March earlier this year, we met Hon. Alexia Manombe-Ncube, Deputy Minister: Disability Affairs in the Republic of Namibia. She kindly agreed to be on the panel for our side event.
She said she would like to visit the UK to get some benchmarking ideas about independent living – we gave her some contacts including Inclusion London and European Network of Independent Living (ENIL) and arranged for her to visit a local Disabled People Organisation in Greenwich (GAD) and she also met with Sisters of Frida : Eleanor Lisney, Sophie Partridge, and Michelle Daley. Michelle Baharier (who was also at NYC for our panel) was able to join us later.
It was great to meet the group of people who came with her too in August and we hope they found the visit a useful one.
Posted on Thursday, October 6th, 2016
Sisters of Frida with the Women Enabled International provided evidence to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights of the United Kingdom. We focused on disabled women and specifically on violence against disabled women and domestic abuse.
Posted on Monday, August 15th, 2016
Last night one of my new colleagues expressed surprise on Â mention of my children â€“ she said she had no idea I had children. She did not mean it to be malicious but the fact I have children prove surprising to most folks. I think, to be brutally honest, most people do not expect disabled people to be sexual beings let alone have offspring.
And for disabled women it is doubly problematic. Consider the stereotype of being a woman â€“as a caregiver, as a sex object, mother, housekeeper â€“ you get the picture? Many of those roles are not seen to be within the capacity of disabled women. All the media, films of disability and sexuality are from the perspective of disabled men where they have their needs fulfilled by non-disabled women. Examples, Me Before You (even if he did not think it was enough to keep him living), The Sessions, there not many based on the needs of disabled women (excluding Children of a Lesser God).
There is not much space afforded to disabled women on sexuality and how to factor in disability in the search for companionship, romance, relationships and sex. The narratives are missing. I was made aware how much so when I joined the group of women who went to the first workshop (there are a series of four workshops) lead by Sisters of Frida steering group members, Lani Parker and Dyi Huijg, on Dis/ability and Sexuality. This workshop was titled Crip Sex, Because We Want It Our Way
As disabled women we have a wide range of experiences, positive and negative, around disability, sex and sexuality. Disabled women are sexy, sexual, passionate, loving, caring, desirable, hot, beautiful, strong and much more! Our experiences of sexuality are also affected by different kinds of oppressions such as ableism, racism, sexism, heteronormativity, classism and age.
In this workshop we will explore what sex means for us as disabled women, non-normative sex, positive self-image, exploring sex alone and sex with others
I felt we really shared our experiences as disabled women intersected by faith, culture, and sexual orientation. We examined the differences with impairments, acquired and from a young age, we spoke about chronic illnesses, the barriers and effects of medication and age. Does sex alleviate pain, do we/should we have sex when we are in pain? We compared the attitudes of social workers, medical practitioners and partners â€“ in and out of relationships, domestic abuse from families, society and community pressures.
I cannot wait for the next session. I hope more people will come to visit this wonderful space where we afford each other sisterhood and non-judgemental sharing.
Themes and dates of the workshops
Workshop 1: Crip Sex, Because We Want It Our Way (finished)
In this workshop we will explore what sex means for us as disabled women, non-normative sex, positive self-image, exploring sex alone and sex with others.
Date: Sat 30 July
Workshop 2: When It Doesnâ€™t Feel Good and It Isnâ€™t Right
In this workshop we will discuss negative experiences and difficulties we have around sex and sexuality, our boundaries, consent, privacy and ableism in relationships.
Date: Sat 27 Aug
Workshop 3: Disabled Desire: Sexy and Sensual Possibilities
In this workshop we will discuss positive experiences we have and want to have around sex and sexuality, pleasure, and what it means to desire and be desired.
Date: Sat 17 Sept
Workshop 4: Sex: Getting What You Want and Need
Here we will build on the other workshops, and discuss how to develop confidence and feel empowered to do and want sex differently, challenge internalised oppression and other obstacles, and talk about how to put our desires and needs into practice.
Date: Sat 22 Oct
this project was funded by
Eleanor Lisney is a founder member and coordinator of Sisters of Frida. She is an access advisor, an NUJ member on the New Media Industrial Council and the Equality Council. She is also on the British Council Disability Advisory Panel and the web team of the International Network of Women with Disabilities.
Posted on Monday, August 15th, 2016
SISTERS FRIDA â€“ DISABLED WOMENâ€™S VOICES FROM THE FRONTLINE
Blackfriars Settlement 9 July 2016
END PANEL DISCUSSION
Panel: Kirsten Hearn, Miss Jacqui, Pauline Latchen, Eleanor Lisney, Becky Olaniyi,
Jagoda Risteska, Jasmina Risteska, Annabel Crowley
Contributers: Michelle Daley, Dyi,
Eleanor introduced an update from Dyi. The Disability and Sexuality project that Djy
and Lani have piloted with an initial meeting last autumn has now got funding to go
ahead. The next meeting will be in July at the New Union Church Hall and thereafter
every month. The project will provide a safe space to discuss issues around
disability and sexuality. More information and details are listed on the Sisters of
Annabel noted that the day had involved lots of interesting and powerful
conversations. The Brexit vote had provided a focus for discussion: the situation
was already difficult before we faced leaving the European Union and things will be
likely to get more difficult: now is the time to make sure we have a voice.
Eleanor commented that if she had not been at this event, she would have been at
Conway Hall to support a rally of Black Activists Against Racism to protest against
spending cuts. As she was unable to attend that rally, Eleanor had written a letter of
support and solidarity which she read out.
Annabel asked everyone what were their concerns in the light of Brexit.
Becky said that she felt there was not a lot of clear information about Brexit,
especially for young people; they should have had an opportunity to contribute and
make decisions. Older people believed that leaving the EU would mean that the
money saved would be paid into the NHS etc. Young people had mainly voted to
remain in the EU but were not really clear why â€“ and people needed to be clear
Dyi raised the issue of being an EU citizen living in the UK going forward. We need
to think about the reality of that situation, for example in relation to peopleâ€™s status
with the NHS. This is a real issue for EU citizens in the UK who rely on the NHS â€“
though of course it may be different for those who donâ€™t. However, Dyi pointed out,
there is also a lot of inequality in relation to healthcare within the rest of the EU.
Annabel asked if Dyi would be looking for wider consultation with EU migrants to
have more information about the implications of Brexit for them. Dyi replied that she
is looking into the legal implications and building up an information bank on relevant
services as a resource which she will be happy to share with others.
Michelle said that we donâ€™t know what the future will look like. She had voted to
remain in the EU, and there was not, had not been, enough information about what
Brexit would look like, or how our lives will be changed by it.
Kirsten said that the whole Brexit campaign had been based on lies, especially about
the NHS and migration. Secondly, all the years of austerity have influenced people,
especially poorer people: these people see migrants and refugees as competing with
them for jobs, services and benefits and these myths are further spread by
politicians, who paint migrants as lazy scroungers. Migrants enrich our country,
however, and it is not true that all migrants come to Britain to claim benefits rather
than to work. Kirsten said that in her local community there has been an increase in
racial hate crime and that the referendum result is advisory rather than mandatory
and parliament should act accordingly. The government should now consider what
things can stay the same and what should change: for example things like
wheelchair spaces on buses and braille labelling, these sorts of things should stay.
Michelle said that when her parents came to the UK, there were signs in public
spaces saying â€˜No dogs, no Irish, no Blacksâ€™ and we are going back to those days
and with the same discrimination against disabled people.
Miss Jacqui said that the people who had voted to leave didnâ€™t really know what they
were voting for. Whatever political party is in power, disabled people â€“ disabled
women especially, will be at the bottom of the agenda. Politicians donâ€™t consider
that the decisions they make now will still affect us in ten yearsâ€™ time. Starting a new
political party is the only solution. She was not happy with David Cameron as prime
minister but is not happy at what may follow his resignation. We need to find and
develop our voice and consider where does it feel safe to talk.
Becky said so many politicians are leaving their jobs, and Michelle said it was their
job to have a plan (going forward). Becky said politicians exist in a bubble, all this
doesnâ€™t affect them, they donâ€™t think: itâ€™s about the money they can make, the secret
deals and they only think about what affects them. Kirsten said she felt quite
Annabel said we do have voices however we express ourselves. How do we build
and expand on safe spaces to express ourselves? Kirsten said that we need to talk
to the communities that voted for Brexit, especially poor people, people who are
alienated. She is trying to talk to people in her street who voted leave, to try to
understand why they did â€“ we havenâ€™t listened to them in the past. One issue is
employment: people going for jobs, not that skilled, which go to migrants: â€˜Theyâ€™re
taking our jobsâ€™. That, and well qualified people paid low wages for jobs theyâ€™re over-
qualified for and all the time the right-wing press reinforce the view that migrants are
Dyi said that there is a history of colonialism, racism and imperialism and we should
consider what Sisters of Frida can do to support each other. Annabel said we should
consider what resources â€“ communities and spaces â€“ we can build on and share.
Pauline said that wages are being driven down but itâ€™s not the fault of migrant
workers: low wages here are better than whatâ€™s on offer in their own countries. We
should blame the government and business owners, not the migrants. Miss Jacqui
said that some people are really picky about what jobs they will take: if you really
want a job youâ€™ll take anything, you will find a job. Blaming migrants is just an
excuse. Michelle said the government is using a tactic of divide, rule and conquer
and what happened in the referendum is just history repeating itself.
In conclusion, Annabel said the discussion could continue on line: this is one way we
can add disabled womenâ€™s voices to the discussion. Maybe there could be a Brexit
forum page on the SOF website; a lot of disability rights have come from the EU and
therefore the discussion could link in disabled friends in Europe.
All present were invited to pass on their email addresses to receive further updates.
Posted on Saturday, August 13th, 2016
Here are the videos from the dayÂ Disabled Womenâ€™s Voices from the Frontline Saturday 9th July, 11am â€“ 4.30pmÂ
Introduction by Annabel Crowley
Sophie Partridge and Penny Pepper
transcript coming soon
Guests speakers – Jagoda and Jasmina Risteska
Many thanks to for funding this event