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.¬† 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 Friday, May 12th, 2017
New peer led skills development course for disabled women
(Start date¬† and venue TBD probably end of June)
Sisters of Frida is proud to announce a new peer led skills development course for disabled women.
Following our successful projects ‘Disabled women’s voices from the frontline‘ and Disability and Sexuality, Rosa funding is funding us to further develop disabled women‚Äôs skills and leadership in a space led by and for disabled women. This exciting project will span 12 months and will give the participants opportunities to
- develop facilitation skills
- presentation skills
- and research skills
- identifying your own specific skills
The project will be split into two parts. The first part will consist of three sessions aimed at building facilitation skills and confidence for the participants we will then go on to design a further seven sessions tailored specifically to the needs of the group and individuals within the group. You will have a mentor who will support you in gaining skills in the area of work which you are interested in you will then share the skills and knowledge through a facilitated workshop designed and facilitated by you.
Ideas for topics include
- disabled women and domestic violence
- sexuality and disabled women
- building campaigns and spaces wich work for all disabled women
- working with disabled young people
- arts and self-expression
- re thinking work for/with disabled women
- building support networks in challenging interpersonal violence
The list is not exhaustive and will be led by the participants. There are limited spaces on this program, please get in touch if you are interested to firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on Wednesday, April 19th, 2017
We are very sorry to learn that Eleanor Firman, a strong activist in East London, died last weekend. She was passionate about housing, peace, benefits, but anti racism and disability rights were her biggest concerns. Her death was sudden and unexpected. She had attended a fund raising dinner on Saturday night and was reported to be on good form.
Eleanor was also a founding member of Sisters of Frida and served on the Steering Group. She attended a meeting in Strasbourg for us at a European Parliament Disability Intergroup and then to Geneva as part of the CEDAW working Group coordinated by the Women Resource Centre in 2013. A committed advocate for women‚Äôs and disability rights, she was in the Women Against the Cuts and also a Disabled People Against Cuts member. She was in Left Unity Disabled Member‚Äôs Caucus for some time. She had wanted to be a Labour councillor in her ward.
We send our utmost sympathy to her partner Gerry, and her family, brother, Richard, her father , Peter, neice Jess and all her friends.
She is a great loss to all of us. We will miss her warmth, her passion, creativity and friendship. She never failed to help and stood up for what she saw as injustice ‚Äď even when it is at a cost to herself.
written by Eleanor Lisney
SOF CRPD Shadow Report : UK Initial Report on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Posted on Monday, March 27th, 2017
Disabled people‚Äôs organisations (DPOs) have come together to tell a UN committee the different ways in which the UK government has been breaching the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). See Disability News Service ‘s article DPOs join forces to brief UN on how UK has breached disability convention¬†
Sisters of Frida wrote a short shadow report on 3 Articles with List of Issues. We also contributed to the ROFA shadow report.
Posted on Sunday, March 26th, 2017
Notes from the AGM
The event, held at the Blackfriars Settlemnt, started at 12.00 pm with lunch and networking and meeting started at 1.00 pm.
- Welcome & Introductions
The meeting began with housekeeping and introductions, and confirmation of photo consent from those attending.
- Achievements of the past year:
Disabled Women‚Äôs Voices From the Front Line July 2016
Women of the World (WOW) Festival, Southbank 2016 & 2017
Disability and Sexuality Workshops
Other achievements listed but not discussed in detail included:
A Women‚Äôs Feminist Salon at Oxford University with Eleanor and Zara discussing intersectionality at that event.
Fawcett Society annual conference(Eleanor)
Green Party Conference (attended by Sarah)
Global Disabled Women‚Äôs training on UN Instruments (attended by Eleanor in Geneva)
A Conference in Germany around UN Law on CRPD (attended by Sarah)
Plan UK Festival for Girls (training given by Fleur and Eleanor)
A project lead by the Women‚Äôs Resource Centre ¬†on disadvantaged women‚Äôs¬† (Sophie and Eleanor) also videos on-line.
A United Nations Commission on Status of Women, New York attended by Eleanor, Lucia and Michelle Baharier from Sisters of Frida, also lead a side event.
Women Speak Out an event at the Women‚Äôs Resource Centre.
- Sisters of Frida in Three Years‚Äô Time
Lani introduced a group exercise to understand where people would like Sisters of Frida to be in 3 years‚Äô time.¬† Everyone present assembled into groups of 3 ‚Äď 4, with each group aiming to achieve 1 ‚Äď 5 newspaper headlines that described their aspirations for the organisation.
- Strategy Road Map
Lani introduced an activity evaluation table giving an overview of areas of work, and current and recent projects.¬† The table was a starting point to assess what has been done in the last year and help Sisters of Frida to plan for the next 3 years.
Each of the 3 groups above took a section of the table to work through.
other photos from the AGM are on the flickr.
Posted on Tuesday, March 21st, 2017
Please note new time, although the AGM starts at 1pm as seen from previous post , you are welcomed to get there before. Blackfriars Settlement has an excellent cafe with reasonable prices for lunch or snacks.
Please register at eventbrite
Please also have a look at these documents
We are asking for your ideas, opinions as to how you want Sisters of Frida to plan a strategy for going ahead.
Here is the agenda for the day
Sisters of Frida Annual General Meeting
Venue: Blackfriars Settlement, 1 Rushworth St, London SE1 0RB
Date: Saturday, 25 March 2017
12:00noon to 1:00PM¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Networking
1:00PM to1:30PM ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† What we‚Äôve done, finance & questions
1:30PPM to 2:00PM ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Visionary: Sisters Of Frida in 3 Years‚Äô
2:00 PM to 2:15PM Break
2:15PM to 3:30PM ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Strategy: Road Map
3:30PM to 3:45PM¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Break
Steering Group Members Meeting
3:45PM to 3:50PM¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Thank you and welcome new SGM
3:50PM to 4:20PM¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Prioritise outcome from Strategy session. This will involve agree work plan for the future but also assigning it to the visionary statements.
4:20PM to 4:40PM¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Governance
4:40PM to 5PM¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† A.O.B
Posted on Monday, March 20th, 2017
Main talks programme panel ‚ÄúIntersectionality for Beginners‚ÄĚ at Women of the World Festival 2017, in London South Bank. This panel featurered a keynote from Lydia X. Z. Brown and panel of Guppi Bola, Kuchenga Shenje, Emma Dabiri, and Eleanor Lisney (from Sisters of Frida) chaired by Hannah Azieb Poole. Transcripts kindly provided by Lydia)
This was the prepared speech by Eleanor Lisney¬† for the panel (but not read out)
When I came back to the UK to take up the position of relationship manager at a university, people told me I ticked many brownie points. I learn to realise they meant I had many disadvantages , because I was a woman, of an ethnic minority, and disabled. Some said it must be an advantage in applying for jobs but believe me, it isn‚Äôt . This is before I even heard of the term ‚Äė intersectionality‚Äô, the multiple oppression that arise out of having multiple identities, ¬†and understand the impact it had on my life and that of others.
In January, I was invited to speak as a Sister of Frida at a hearing at the European Parliament on domestic violence and disabled people, and I used a personal example when mentioning intersectionality. When I was living in France I went through a divorce process, the court saw me as a non white, disabled woman with a bad grasp of the French language. My ex, a white British man, is an international¬† civil servant, had many human rights’ lawyers as his friends. I did not even know French divorce laws were different from those in the UK.
I think it was partly from that experience I co founded Sisters of Frida – understanding the complexity of having multiple identities- and also it‚Äôs in¬† Article 6 of the Convention on Rights of People with Disabilities.
States Parties recognize that women and girls with disabilities are subject to multiple discrimination, and in this regard shall take measures to ensure the full and equal enjoyment by them of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The UK has ratified the CRPD and In fact, quite a few of disabled activists are heading for Geneva because of the examination of the uk govt for its implementation. I wanted to go but it conflicted with the international women‚Äôs day events and me here at WOW.¬† Disability and feminism. Women organisations do not know much about disability and disabled people‚Äôs organisations are gender neutral, we hope to build bridges there and make a change. Just insisting on our rights to be heard and to make spaces more inclusive and accessible are challenges. I hope we have made some difference. If I make a mention here, one Sister of Frida, is Rebecca Bunce who is a co founder of IChange has campaigned tirelessly for the Istanbul Convention and spoken on the need for access at public spaces for disabled women.
The disability movement is very white here and we would like to promote and make black and ethnic minority women more visible. It‚Äôs a natural reaction that you don‚Äôt join when you can‚Äôt identify with the people in it. And to show that they are not just engaged in being there as recipients but also in leadership roles. ¬†We have had discussions on disability and the¬† cultural differences on the impact of disability. Many BME women come and share with me about their disabilities but they do not self identify (unless it‚Äôs a physical visible impairment ) as disabled people¬† because of the negative perspectives, stigma and non representation. But I know this goes for other communities not just¬† for Black and women of colour .
And in the UK austerity measures by this government have meant that the intersections of being BME and disabled and women mean that many of us are reeling from the compounding cuts in benefits and services. In all areas of our lives.
My friend and fellow Co founder of SoF, Michelle Daley, has spoken on the importance of intersectionality and the social services on Wednesday, she speaks as a black disabled woman
I quote her:
“I am a woman, a black woman and a disabled woman. In most areas of my life I’m forced to compartmentalised my different intersections…. I relate this point from one of my assessments of need. So when I explained that I needed help with skin care, which is not related to my impairment, it was dismissed. The assessor had no knowledge about skin sensitive and dryness often experienced by Black People and the need for daily skin care to prevent discomfort. In this example it demonstrated how my different intersections as a Black Disabled Woman were not considered and how they interact with each other. ”
She is chairing the SoF panel at 1.15 this afternoon. I recommend you go listen to her and my other Sisters at that panel.¬† Thank you.
Why does much of the women‚Äôs rights movement marginalise disabled women?
During the last weekend in London at the Women of the World Festival (WOW) a panel of speakers discussed why disability is so often left out of conversations about intersectionality, and surveyed the key battlegrounds that disabled women are fighting on.
The panel was organized by Sisters of Frida.
Speakers included Lydia X. Z. Brown, disability rights activist; Magdalena Szarota, Polish disability rights activist and HIA Polska Board Member; Sarifa Patel of Newham‚Äôs Disability Forum; and Simone Aspis, Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE) campaigner. Chaired by Michelle Daley of the Sisters of Frida disabled women‚Äôs collective.”
Other photos from the Women of the World Festival with SoF and disabled women at Flickr¬†¬†¬†
We collaborated on ‘Disabled women missing from history’ these were exhibited at the cafe of the Royal Festival Hall
Posted on Monday, March 13th, 2017
On Saturday, at Women of the World festival, I found myself on the panel for the planning meeting of ‚ÄėWomen‚Äôs Day Off‚Äô.¬† This is being organised by the Women‚Äôs Equality Party for 2017 to¬†coincide with the centenary of the Representation of the People Act and calls all women to not perform any paid or unpaid work for one day to raise awareness of gender inequality.
In my two minutes, I raised the issues of inclusion and shame.
Disabled women must be included in the organisation of the day and there needs to be a range of channels through which we can participate. We are providing paid and unpaid work and being exploited too. In fact we‚Äôre hit harder:
- Disabled men experience a pay gap of 11% compared with non-disabled men, while the gap between disabled women and non-disabled women is double this at 22%.
- The pay gap between disabled men and women in employment is 14% [Footnote: Disability in the UK 2016: Facts and Figures, Papworth Trust (2016)]
So whichever way you slice it (by gender or disability) we are disproportionately impacted
Events must be inclusive and, in my view, those who spoke out agreed with this objective. But this has to follow through to the realities of the day. It requires organisers (formally and informally) to critique any buildings, spaces and materials, to carefully plan all events so that meetings and rallies are inclusive and to provide ‚Äėvirtual‚Äô participation channels for those that cannot participate physically. This leads me to support needs. How will I ¬†participate if my support system breaks down for the day because my PA team have jumped on a coach to London and I‚Äôm lying in bed bursting for the loo?
Let‚Äôs face it, my PAs won‚Äôt leave me. So they won‚Äôt take the ‘day off‚Äô. This is a problem for the WEP campaign. My PAs are underpaid and undervalued by the State – they should be near the front of any rallies and marches but probably won‚Äôt be. Perhaps our solution will be that I inform my local authority that I have a credible belief my PAs will ‚Äėstrike‚Äô that day and this will put them on notice that I will be in danger. A contingency plan will need to be put in place. Even if my PAs come to work that day, the time it will take to put this plan in place will cause disruption and inconvenience for local authorities and WEP‚Äôs objectives will be virtually met.
Now I turn to the second issue which concerns me: shame. The campaign organisers need to be very clear and firm with enthusiastic feminist activists to be careful about the language they use. Take, for example, the phrase ‚Äúburden of care‚ÄĚ. Firstly, I receive support, not care. Let‚Äôs not disempower disabled women. Secondly, we are not ‘a burden’ on the state or our support networks. Disabled women are twice as likely to experience domestic abuse. Campaigners who major on the ‚Äėburden of care‚Äô risk adding to the emotional abuse we are already experiencing.
It is important that the campaign keeps us included in the planning process in order to allow disabled women to amplify the messages and add our protest. But it must also take responsibility for preventing attacks on our safety and dignity; we cannot be collateral damage in this day of action.
Sarah Rennie¬†is a director of the Wisdom Factory CIC, a social enterprise in Birmingham. As a former solicitor, her day-to-day work is¬†research and governance advice. However, Sarah delivers¬†disability equality training nationwide and¬†acts as a consultant for select clients on internal equality working groups. She is also vice-Chair of the city‚Äôs Access Committee. She is also on the Sisters of Frida Steering Group.
Posted on Sunday, March 5th, 2017
Reposted from Kirsty Liddiard’s blog with kind permission.
Last night I was lucky enough to be invited to introduce¬†Sins Invalid‚Äôs film,¬†An Unshamed Claim To Beauty? The film was screened as part of Dis/Cinema, University of Sheffield, which¬†facilitates film screenings with themes of dis/ability, mental health, difference, and otherness. Check out its work here and follow Dis/Cinema on Twitter at¬†@. Below I share my introduction and slides.¬†Not surprisingly the film instigated¬†some powerful¬†discussion which followed themes of privilege/power and race, class, gender and nation; the beauty industry and the economics of (bodily) shame; how we culturally come to be repulsed by otherness through fear; and our own experiences of being/enacting the spectacle of disability. A big thanks to Dis/Cinema and everyone who came along to contribute to such a stimulating night.
When I got invited to facilitate this session, my immediate thought was, how on earth does one introduce Sins Invalid? What can I possibly say that can prepare you for the transgressive beauty that you‚Äôre about to witness in its Kickstarter-funded film, An Unshamed Claim To Beauty?
So I thought I‚Äôd begin with a story of the first time I saw Sins Invalid. It was live, at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). I had just graduated my PhD, in which I‚Äôd spent three years working with disabled people to tell sexual stories, and moved to Toronto in order to undertake my first postdoctoral position at the wonderful School of Disability Studies at Ryerson University.
This was a massive move for me, particularly culturally, as I‚Äôm from Milton Keynes, which, as much as I love it, really is where culture goes to die*. Everything I saw that first week of living in a new country, far from home, was new, rich, and vivid. But seeing Sins Invalid, and sitting with its audience, opened me up to the possibilities of politicising pleasure, (or disabled people‚Äôs lack of intimate justice to pleasure, sexuality and love), through art for the first time; that art, politics and power enable silenced stories to be ‚Äėloosed into the world‚Äô. These threads have persisted through my own research since that very night.
So what does it mean to ‚Äúpoliticise pleasure‚ÄĚ, and why is it important to advocate for disability justice, the politic centred in the work of Sins Invalid? Activist Mia Mingus describes disability justice as a truly collaborative and intersectional movement that brings the body back in; as that which proudly centres accessibility; and which shatters the inherent Western, ableist and neo-colonial myth of independence. Patty Bearne, Co-Founder and Director of Sins Invalid, defines disability justice like this:
‚ÄėA Disability Justice framework understands that all bodies are unique and essential; that all bodies have strengths and needs that must be met. We know that we are powerful not despite the complexities of our bodies, but because of them. We understand that all bodies are caught in these bindings of ability, race, gender, sexuality, class, nation state and imperialism, and that we cannot separate them. These are the positions from where we struggle. We are in a global system that is incompatible with life. There is no way stop a single gear in motion ‚ÄĒ we must dismantle this machine. Disability Justice holds a vision born out of collective struggle, drawing upon the legacies of cultural and spiritual resistance within a thousand underground paths, igniting small persistent fires of rebellion in everyday life. Disabled people of the global majority ‚ÄĒ black and brown people ‚ÄĒ share common ground confronting and subverting colonial powers in their struggle for life and justice. There has always been resistance to all forms of oppression, as we know through our bones that there have simultaneously been disabled people visioning a world where we flourish, that values and celebrates us in all our myriad beauty‚Äô.
For me, Sins Invalid offers us a new lens through which to come to know, see, and feel bodies in ways counter to the dominant culture. It makes space to think about bodies, self and desire in affirmative ways ‚Äď that bodies with what disabled feminist Susan Wendell (1996:45) calls ‚Äėhard physical realities‚Äô ‚Äď bodies that droop, sag, spit, dribble, spasm, ache and leak in ways deemed inappropriate (Liddiard and Slater, fc; Morris 1989; Leibowitz 2005) and minds that confuse, forget, hallucinate, or take longer to learn are not non-human or subhuman, but can open up new ontologies of pleasure and alternative economies of desire.
Disabled people have long had their intimate citizenship and justice deprioritised ‚Äď dominant discourse renders our sexual lives, selves and bodies at best as unimportant, secondary to things like housing, care, education, and legislation; as if civil life is detached from intimate life; like the personal isn‚Äôt political. We might think, in the current age of austerity, where in the UK and beyond, successive governments have served to denigrate disabled people, our communities and our families, that access to sexuality and intimacy is of lesser importance. That in a new world order controlled by Trump, May, LePenn and others, sexuality becomes, once again, the very least of our worries.
But austerity, neoliberal-ableism and global instability inevitably proffer new forms of precarity that drive us, at best, back into the normative body and self: meaning now is the time to politicise the impacts of such forces in our intimate lives; to claim, as the wonderful Tobin Seibers affirms, a sexual culture of our own.
Asserting, celebrating and living our own pleasures at this time in our history offers radical counter narratives. We can affirm the vibrancy of disability life through pleasure and desire in the face of social and literal death that austerity brings to our communities, and at the same time chip away at the normative boundaries of human pleasure which deem it unnecessary and grotesque for a range of marginalised bodies: disabled, fat, queer, Crip, black and POC, and genderqueer and Trans bodies. It is important, in times of such existential precariousness, that pleasure and sensuality (regardless of their form) are not relegated to luxury, but are means of survival and thus necessary for creativity, vitality and disability future.
I want to end with the words of the wonderful Eli Clare (2002: no pagination). Words which speak to the very bringing together of pleasure, politics and power that Sins Invalid demands: ‚ÄėI want to read about wheelchairs and limps, hands that bend at odd angles and bodies that negotiate unchosen pain, about orgasms that aren‚Äôt necessarily about our genitals, about sex and pleasure stolen in nursing homes and back rooms where we‚Äôve been abandoned, about bodily‚ÄĒand I mean to include the mind as part of the body‚ÄĒdifferences so plentiful they can‚Äôt be counted, about fucking that embraces all those differences. It‚Äôs time.‚Äô
Thank you: here is Sins Invalid. See the trailer and buy the¬†film here.
* Sorry to those who live in/love MK ‚Äď I do ‚Äď but it ain‚Äôt no Toronto for culture‚Ä¶
Posted on Thursday, March 2nd, 2017
If you are going to the Women of the World Festival 10th – 12th March, here are some ot the sessions to look out for – these are with Sisters of Frida and friends as speakers
1:15 pm, 10 Mar 2017
Women’s Day Off (with Women’s Equality Party)
11.30¬† The Clore Ballroom, Level 2, Royal Festival Hall
Lydia X.Z. Brown and Eleanor Lisney
Disability, women taking action (Sisters of Frida Panel)
1.15 Blue Bar, Level 4, Royal Festival Hall
Green Bar, Level 4, Royal Festival Hall
The Clore Ballroom, Level 2, Royal Festival Hall
Weston Roof Pavilion, Level 6, Green side, Royal Festival Hall
Posted on Thursday, March 2nd, 2017
Please do come to our AGM at Blackfriars Settlement¬†
from 1 to 3.30 pm with a steering group meeting 3.30 – 5pm.
Refreshments (tea and coffee offered)
BSL interpretation offered.
Please send access requirements to email@example.com
And sign up at the eventbrite.
Looking forward to seeing you all!