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At the European Parliament: Domestic violence against people with disability

 

2 semi circles of seated people facing each other with one woman in a bed chair lying down and man with hat at this end and interpreters signing in space between the semi circles

Photo of meeting from European Parliament Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup. http://www.ardi-ep.eu 

Sisters of Frida was asked to speak at an event hosted by Soraya Post MEP on Domestic violence against disabled people by the European Network of Independent Living (ENIL) on the 31st January 2017. Here is the speech from Eleanor Lisney ( a summarised version was given as the meeting ran out of time)

Having support for independent living is one of the fundamental needs of disabled people and the structural barriers of being able to exercise our rights is in our battles with social services, schools, higher education, housing, stigmas and discrimination and ableism.
four women around a table, 2 wheelchair users, one with Middle Eastern, one with East Asian looks, the other Caucasian with one in a bed chair lying down position.

with Nadia (ENIL), Eleanor (SOF), Freyja and Embla (Tabú)

It seems right that we should meet with ENIL member before the event  – Nadia Haddad and Tabú ‘s Embla Ágústsdóttir and Freyja Haraldsdóttir for drinks to talk before the event.

Embla and Freyja were giving their testimonies on behalf of  the next day on domestic violence against disabled people. Here is their speech for Tabú.

It is clear that a new definition of domestic violence in itself will not solve the social situation of disabled women and end domestic violence against us. That does not change the fact that by redefining domestic violence legally and in policy can change, for the better, the practices of the police, legal system, social services and violence support networks. Changing the definition does not have to shadow the gender-based approach, it should enrich it. This should not have to exclude tackling of other forms of violence, e.g. institutional violence and hate crime. More so it could draw upon the multiple and concurrent forms of violence that should be beneficial to disabled women and service systems. It could deepen the understanding of which kind of violence affects or actuate other kinds of violence as well as offering a better ground to analyse how structures and cultures encourage and minimize abuse in the lives of disabled women.”

 

We also met up with all four of the Disabled Survivors Unite co-founders from the UK – Alice Kirkby, Ashley Stephens, Holly Scott-Gardner and  Bekki Smiddy. Here is their blog of the day with a audio recording and transcript. There was much appreciation of their testimonies.

John Pring of Disability News Service wrote the article  ‘Cuts mean government ‘is complicit in high levels of domestic violence’ on their appearance.

Ana Peláez, the Chair of the European Disability Forum (EDF) Women’s Committee and a member of its Executive Committee spoke on the structual problems faced by disabled women and girls

So the first thing we need to say is that violence against women and girls with disabilities is structural violence that arises from the mere fact that when we talk about their specific situation they are not recognised as women or girls. This non-recognition means they are excluded from policies aimed at providing assistance and recovery for women victims of violence. (Another related topic is the accessibility of these services, but today we don’t have time to go into this.)

A second structural aspect of violence against women and girls with disabilities is that in many cases they are victims of legal incapacitation which takes place due to their gender. This incapacitation is part of the process to enable these women to be subjected to forced sterilisation without their consent, or without their realising what is being done to them. This practise is another type of domestic violence in some ways, because it is the families who, in violation of the CRPD and even article 39 of the Istanbul Convention, choose to sterilise their daughters to protect them against unwanted pregnancies. I don’t mean to blame the families; they are also victims of the healthcare system, which very often suggests this type of practise. Sterilising a woman means mutilating not only her reproductive capacity, but also her civil, political and economic rights. In addition, the only thing sterilisation achieves is to leave girls and women with disabilities even more exposed to sexual abuse and rape. Even worse, they are also unable to access justice to report the perpetrators or seek remedies, because they have been deprived of their legal capacity.

Here is the Ana Peláez EP  (Word doc) speech in full that she kindly send us.

 

It was wonderful to meet Madelen Löw from We Rise Again (Sweden) who spoke her powerful testimony

two women, one speaking, the other woman is listening

Madelen Löw with Judith Ward UK MEP

People who were involved with the event spoke of their willingness to have further collaboration on the topic – we hope so! We will continue to follow the discussions. There was much mention of the Istanbul Convention that we hope will be ratified soon by the UK.

More photos from the event at Flickr account

At the European Parliament Panel: Structural problems faced by disabled people, when accessing their full rights

Hearing hosted by MEP Soraya Post S&D : Domestic violence against people with disability

woman with blonde hair and black rimmed glasses. She has a notice that says Feminism in Europe

Soraya Post MEP

MEP Soraya Post invited the civil society, NGO’s and Members of the Parliament to a hearing regarding domestic violence against people with disabilities, in order to raise awareness and put the issue on the political agenda

For the panel on Structural problems faced by people with disabilities, when accessing their full rights, Eleanor Lisney spoke for Sisters of Frida and ENIL (European Network of Independent Living)

(a summarised version was given due to meeting running out of time )

Thank you very much to Soraya Post MEP – for this opportunity to speak.

Sisters of Frida is an experimental collective of disabled women. We want a new way of sharing experiences, mutual support and relationships with different networks.

We are seeking to build a/or different networks of disabled women.
We would like a sisterhood, a circle of disabled women and allies to discuss, share our experiences and explore possibilities. So at this moment we remain strictly a female group – female includes anybody who self identify as female.

  • – unfunded, we focus on issues specifically to do with disabled women –there is a gap in Women’s organisations and disabled people’s organisations
  • – advocate disabled women’s rights – we went to UN CEDAW examination with other UK women NGOs to Geneva and the UN CSW (Commission on Status of Women)
  • – we re part of ROFA – Reclaiming our Future Alliance for CRPD shadow report
  • – we have spoken on events on social justice, on intersectionality and on domestic violence
  • – we spoke for disabled women at the Global Summit to end sexual violence in conflict

The European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) is a Europe-wide network of disabled people,  Independent Living organisations and their non-disabled allies on the issues of Independent Living. ENIL represents the disability movement for human rights and social inclusion based on solidarity, peer support, deinstitutionalisation, democracy, self-representation, cross disability and self-determination

Speaking on structural problems when accessing full rights for disabled people, I would like to emphasise the importance of access –

  • Access to education – this includes sex education where disabled people are often excluded, and education is a key to being able to access rights, being aware of rights need you to be literate which leads on to
  • Access to information – including web accessibility, for knowing what’s happening and how, where, when to go to for help and make your voice known in consultations
  • Access to the built environment – physical access and independent living so that you are not trapped in your home or a residential place, having the right assistive equipment and care ( personal assistance.)
  • Access to justice – you can have the most wonderful legislation enshrining your rights but if you cannot get to them because you do not have the socio economic means, they would might as well not be there – legal aid is essential

Societal attitudes is also an impediment ie. Stigmas and societal discrimination (social model of disability)

Rashida Manjoo : UN special rapporteur on sexual violence said

  • “Violence against women needs to be addressed within the broader struggles against inequality and gender-based discrimination.” Rape and domestic violence do not occur in a vacuum, but within a culture shaped and influenced by issues such as normalised harassment in public spaces and the dehumanising objectification of women in the media.

Where disabled women are concerned, there is such a low expectancy to have relationships of any kind that they internalized a low esteem, supposing that they are ‘lucky’ to be in a relationship even if it is an abusive relationship and there is a real fear of care support being withdrawn.  Disabled women see violence and abuse as “part of life” : there are high levels of violence, with very low rates of reporting. Violence and abuse happen behind closed doors: at home, in day centres, in residential homes, in supported accommodation, in special hospitals and on mental health ward. Few disabled women access mainstream support services. There is also poor access to justice and often no response

A 2014 study found that only around 15% of rapes recorded by police as crimes resulted in rape charges being brought against a suspect. The research shows that more than 80% of people reporting rape to the Metropolitan Police are vulnerable to sexual attack (women with psychosocial disabilities and women with learning disabilities) but that these same vulnerabilities mean their cases are less likely to be result in a suspect being charged.

(see https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2014/02/28/revealed-why-the-police-are-failing-most-rape-victims/)

Professor Stanko’s (Professor Betsy Stanko 2014) research into how the Police deal with rape victims showed that women with mental health issues are 40 per cent less likely to have their case referred to the police for prosecution than women without mental health issues. Women with learning difficulties were 67 per cent less likely to have their case referred.

“These women face almost unsurmountable obstacles to justice, their rape is highly unlikely to carry a sanction, and in that sense, it is decriminalised.”

“Victim vulnerabilities effectively protect suspects from being perceived as credible rapists”.

Lastly, there is also the intersectional ( such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and immigration status) ) aspect of structural barriers – access is about more than just ramps – my needs may be about faith or culture, or about how you explain things to me, or getting the right interpreter who uses sign language that I can understand. My barriers may be compounded if I am a Indian lesbian deaf wheelchair user for example.

Sisters of Frida works with StaySafe East in London who has years of experience working with disabled survivors. I suggest asking them for advice on best practice on helping disabled people caught in domestic violence.

Having support for independent living is one of the fundamental needs of disabled people and the structural barriers of being able to exercise our rights is in our battles with social services, schools, higher education, housing, stigmas and discrimination and ableism.

 

Thank you.

Eleanor Lisney

Group photo of participants after the event/hearing.

Group photo of some of the participants after the event/hearing, Embla, Freyja, Madelen, and Eleanor in the front row. Aaron Isrealson, one of the organisers is in the back row.

 

 

 

 

 

Cold, chaotic and claustrophobic at times – but we were there at the Women’s March last Saturday!

Group of women, 2 wheelchair users holding a banner with words 'Sisters of Frida Disabled Women's Collective, four other women standing behind

Arriving near Trafalgar Square at the end of the march

 

We sent out this press release on the day of the march

“Sisters of Frida are joining the Women’s March in solidarity with all those marginalised and threatened by the politics of hatred and division. Amongst the many statements that triggered women to march was the mocking of Serge Kovaleski, Pulitzer prize winning reporter for the New York Times, who is disabled.

“Whilst the march was not accessible for all disabled women, Sisters of Frida have been working with the Women’s Equality Party to ensure that disabled women are represented and access improved. Both the Women’s Equality Party and Sisters of Frida will be live streaming and tweeting from the Women’s March on London to open up this space to those unable to join us today.

“This is a powerful example of how a movement can amplify the voices of those who are often most marginalised. Disabled women are twice as likely to experience abuse compared to non-disabled women, and we are still fighting for the right to independent living. Disability hate crime is underreported and can go unrecognised.

“Disabled women too often face barriers to fully participating in politics. Today we are demanding that space. We know that disability can intersect with other marginalised identities – including race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and religion. Today we march for a politics that includes all women. Tomorrow we will continue our work to amplify the voices of those women who are too often unheard.”

We had all intentions of meeting up and marching together with the Womens Equality Party but some of us were not well enough given the cold weather, impairment issues and sheer numbers of the people who turned up. It was very difficult to get together even if we manage to get in contact with our mobile phones. Negotiating through the crowds proved very difficult for many even those without a mobility impairment.

Reports of as many as 100 000 women were said to be there at the march and there was a feeling of being united together. There were some questions on the lack of intersectionality on the march and we were disappointed about the absence of the  disabled women voices.

We thank the Women’s Equality Party for their support.

 

Caucasian woman speaking to a East asian woman wheelchair user with many women carrying placards behind them

With Halla Gunnarsdóttir and the Womens Equality Party marchers

We were also joined by Liz Carr and Jo Church on the March. A few people send us messages of solidarity to say they could not come but to thank for representing them as disabled people/women.

More photos can be found at the Sisters of Frida’s Flickr account.

Joining the Women’s March London Saturday 21st January

Sisters of Frida are happy to march with the  Women Equality Party on Saturday. they are supporting us including helping with access needs so that we are able to march together.

They will have volunteers ready to support people with access needs on the day. If you need to contact us here is the mobile number you can contact 07453528706 – it might be better to text.

you can also contact us through twitter @sisofrida

see the access information provided by the organisers

And from the WEP

Getting there and getting away

  • Roads will be closed from noon to 17:00, so we suggest that you plan for delays if you are expecting to rely on buses or taxis
  • If you are traveling by tube please be advised that Green Park is the only nearby station that is fully accessible.  If buses are off this may mean you need to make your own way to Green Park tube station, which is slightly under a mile from Trafalgar Square
  • Please note that the Jubilee line will be closed on the day.

Buses (likely to be disrupted between 12noon and 5pm)

  • To reach Grosvenor Square (stops along Oxford Street near Bond Street Station): 6,7,10,13,23,73,94,98,137,139,159,189,390
  • To reach Park Lane: 2,10,16,36,73,74,82,137,148,414,436
  • To reach Green Park (stops along Piccadilly): C2,9,14,19,22,38

At the start

WE volunteers will be located at both drop-off points and can help guide you to the starting points, and we will also have a volunteer who can accompany you on the shorter march route if you wish

If you think you might need support, please make yourself known to a WE volunteer before the start.  We will be wearing a WE logo card on a lanyard so that you can identify us

During the march

Our volunteers on hand to help if you need any support and people at the back of our block looking out for anyone who needs some help

If you would like someone to buddy you on the march, just let us know.

(But check TFL travel alerts ,TFL, and TFL bus alerts )

And if you’re unable to march on Saturday? 

Join the livestreaming on the day  provided by Obi. WEP will also be livestreaming. Check their twitter feed too @WEP_UK

Changing Places toilets 

Not sure you can get into the Houses of Parliament on a Saturday to use the toilet.

Marchers taking the shorter route from Pall Mall

There is a shorter route joining the march from Pall Mall, and you are welcome to join the WE/Sisters of Frida block from this point. There will be a WE/Sisters of Frida point person at Pall Mall with a banner. The organisers have let us know that there are drop off points for people joining the march on Pall Mall from the north, at the bottom of Regent Street; from the south, Waterloo Place. There will be access stewards with green placards here. It is recommended that you arrive by 1.20pm to join the procession.

We hope you will join us – bring your family, childen, pets,  friends, PAs, support workers. We might not be many but we will be seen. But please self care is important, we totally understand if you cannot join the march.

Send us your photo – a very short message and we will tweet it during the march! on twitter or to hello@sisofrida.org

 

 

 

End panel Brexit discussion

SISTERS FRIDA – DISABLED WOMEN’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

Frida website.

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 – and people needed to be clear

about that.

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 people’s status

with the NHS. This is a real issue for EU citizens in the UK who rely on the NHS –

though of course it may be different for those who don’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 don’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 ‘No dogs, no Irish, no Blacks’ 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 didn’t really know what they

were voting for. Whatever political party is in power, disabled people – disabled

women especially, will be at the bottom of the agenda. Politicians don’t consider

that the decisions they make now will still affect us in ten years’ 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

doesn’t affect them, they don’t think: it’s about the money they can make, the secret

deals and they only think about what affects them. Kirsten said she felt quite

depressed now.

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 – we haven’t listened to them in the past. One issue is

employment: people going for jobs, not that skilled, which go to migrants: ‘They’re

taking our jobs’. That, and well qualified people paid low wages for jobs they’re over-

qualified for and all the time the right-wing press reinforce the view that migrants are

to blame.

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 – communities and spaces – we can build on and share.

Pauline said that wages are being driven down but it’s not the fault of migrant

workers: low wages here are better than what’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 you’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 women’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.

#disabledwomenvoice and a statement on post Brexit

While we had our event Disabled Women Voices from the Frontline event today at Blackfriars Settlement, we found out that there was another meeting in Conway Hall – BREXIT, Racism and Xenophobia  to discuss the impact of the referendum vote on BAME communities across the UK organised by The Monitoring Group – some of us would have liked to be there.

We prepared our own response with a message and we had a panel discussion on the Brexit impact on disabled women which was passionate and we came to a conclusion of continuing the discussion.

Here is the message

We would like to send a message of solidarity to this meeting as we are holding our own event at Blackfriars Settlement Disabled Women Voices from the Frontline.

Sisters of Frida (SOF) is a disabled women’s collective. We are a collective for all self-identified disabled women, and we are committed to an intersectional perspective on our day to day realities.

Sisters of Frida condemns the increase in racist attacks after the Referendum and is concerned how these attacks and Brexit affect disabled women,  particularly disabled women of colour.

We are concerned about how dis/ableism, sexism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia and Islamophobia affect disabled women. As part of the disabled community, we have seen a rise in disability hate crime in recent years too.

Sisters of Frida is worried how disabled women of colour and European migrants have become pawns in the current political situation and are facing multiple discrimination and exclusion.

We are concerned about how Brexit and the conversations after Brexit are scapegoating those reliant on the NHS and other health related and welfare support and benefits.

We are also concerned how disabled people are portrayed and treated. As Sisters of Frida, we are particularly concerned about how Brexit affects disabled women in the UK who are EU nationals. We are disquiet how this affects British and non-EU migrant disabled people in the UK, particularly those of people of colour, Muslim, LGBT and European communities. We are also worried by the impact on disabled people who rely on migrant workers to support their independent livingand how Brexit would exacerbate austerity cuts.

We hope your meeting will be fruitful. Let us unite in working together in moving forward towards a fair and just society, with an inclusive, supportive and safe environment in the future.

Unity is strength!

 

Participants listening to Simone

Participants listening to Simone

 

Some of the photos from today’s event  – more photos and video to come later.

Rosa May Billinghurst, disabled woman suffragette

Many thanks to Dr. Sheila Hanlon for permission to repost this blog.

Rosa May Billinghurst: Suffragette on Three Wheels

woman seated on tricycle surrounded by coppers

 

Rosa May Billinghurst (1873-1953) was born and raised in Lewisham, London. As a child, she contracted an illness which left her paralyzed from the waist down. Her condition did not, however, deter her from joining the WSPU in 1907 or becoming one of its best known militants.

In her youth, Billinghurst and her sister Alice volunteered to work with poor children in the Deptford slums, local workhouse inmates, and prostitutes. Exposure to these injustices may have contributed to her interest in women’s suffrage and inspired her to join the Women’s Liberal Association. When a branch of the WSPU opened in Lewisham, she quickly switched allegiances to this new group, whose political agenda was a better match to her own ideas than the the Liberal platform was.

Lewisham banner

Lewisham banner

Billinghurst was a dedicated WSPU member. She organised events and meetings, took part in demonstrations, was a regular in processions, and served as secretary of the Greenwich branch. Without the use of her legs, she relied on an invalid tricycle for the mobility she needed to be a full participant in the suffrage action. Her invalid tricycle was, for the time, a high tech wheelchair modeled on a tricycle and propelled by hand controls.

Billinghurst was a regular participant in the WSPU’s public processions. She attracted public attention by appearing dressed in white and wheeling along with her machine decked out in coloured WSPU ribbons and “Votes for Women” banners. Billinghurst rose to prominence as a recognizable public figure and became known as “the cripple suffragette.”

In addition to being a regular fixture at peaceful protests, Billinghurst was drawn to militant action and demonstrations. In 1910, she participated in Black Friday, leading the police to try to subdue her by knocking her out of her tricycle, pushing it down a side street, removing the valves from the tyres, and restraining her arms. Never easily deterred, she was back a few days later for the next protest, only this time she came prepared to use her tricycle as a battering ram to get through police lines.

The image above, taken by an unknown photographer in 1908, shows Billinghurst in a crowd surrounded by police. She may be under arrest or at a demonstration supporting fellow suffragettes who were incarcerated. She was arrested herself several times, including an incident in November 1911 when she was charged with obstructing police in Parliament Square. These charges were likely justified. Recalling her impressions of Billinghurst, one veteran of the suffrage movement wrote, “I remember hearing startling stories of her running battles with the police. Her crutches were lodged on each side of her self propelling invalid chair, and when a meeting was broken up or an arrest being made, she would charge the aggressors at a rate of knots that carried all before her.”

Billinghurst at a protest

Billinghurst at a protest

Billinghurst’ efforts earned her several prison terms. In March 1912, she took part in the WSPU window smashing campaign, for which she received one month’s hard labour. Doctor Alice Ker who was in jail at the time wrote to her daughters in April that year that “Miss Billinghurst, the tricycle lady, is going out on the 11th and will take this (letter). She is quite lame, wears irons on her legs and walks with crutches when she is out of her tricycle.”

Billinghurst received another eight month sentence for her role in the December 1912 attacks on pillar boxes. This time she took part in the hunger strikes. She was released early following brutal force feeding sessions that left her in poor health and with broken teeth. She wrote and protested force feeding once she was released, publishing graphic accounts of her experience in suffrage journals and inspired Keir Hardie and George Lansbury to raise the atrocities of force feeding in parliament.

In the years after the suffrage era, Billinghurst remained committed to the cause, joining the Suffragette Fellowship and supporting Christabel Pankhurst’s election campaign forThe Women’s Party in 1918.

Rosa May Billinghurst is an inspiring example of a suffragette who overcame disability to become an active participant in the battle for women’s emancipation. Her story reminds us that suffrage was a cause that mattered to women of all types, across class, race, ability, nationality and other divides.

 

Sources:

Image: “The Papers of Rosa May Billinghurst,” The Women’s Library, Ref 7RMB

“Billinghurst Letters” and “Alice Ker Letters,” The Women’s Library, Autograph Collection, Vol XXIX, 9/29, 1912-1913

Fran Abrams, Freedom’s Cause: Lives of the Suffragettes, (London: Profile Books, 2003)

Iris Dove, Yours in the Cause: Suffragettes in Lewisham, Greenwhich and Woolwhich,1988.

 ——————————————–

Dr Sheila hanlon with a penny farthing cycleDr. Sheila Hanlon is a social and cultural historian specialising in the politics and every day experience of women’s cycling. She holds a PhD from York University, Toronto and is a former Research Fellow at The Women’s Library.

At UN #CSW60

Two Sisters of Frida were at New York city for the ~UN  Committee for Status of Women #CSW60 – here are some of the sessions we took part there.

At Sustainable Development Goals or Sidelining Disabled Girls? Making SDGs Stand for All Women and Girls This side event was sponsored by Women Enabled International, Sisters of Frida & Women with Disabilities India Network

Commission on the Status of Women – CSW60 Side Event
Title: Sustainable Development Goals or Sidelining Disabled Girls? Making SDGs Stand for All Women and Girls
Date and Time: Thursday, March 17 2:30 PM
Location: Church Center of the United Nations – Boss Room, 770 United Nations Plaza New York, NY

The SDGs offer a valuable platform to advance dialogues with States around key areas that impact the lives of women & girls. Yet, despite accounting for almost one-fifth of all women worldwide, disabled women and girls receive scant attention. As the global community undertakes the crucial task of identifying indicators to monitor progress toward the realization of the SDGs & hold States accountable for these commitments, it is essential that this process includes the voices of disabled women  which reflects their experiences of intersecting forms of discrimination. This panel addresses four SDGs that bear on the rights of women with disabilities: Goal 1 (Poverty), Goal 3 (Health), Goal 5 (Gender Equality), & Goal 16 (Peace & Justice). Panelists will discuss barriers that disabled women  face in realizing their rights as they relate to these goals & will address how SDG indicators can better reflect the realities of disabled women  moving forward.

Eleanor Lisney (UK) – Goal 1 (Poverty) – impact on disabled women of government program cuts –

SDG goal 1. poverty transcript

At A Dialogue: Survivors in a disabling environment: what does empowerment of disabled women mean globally?

Date and Time: Thursday, March 24 12:30 PM
Location: Church Center of the United Nations – Chapel, 770 United Nations Plaza New York, NY
This panel will be discussing what would empowerment of disabled women mean locally, nationally and globally. We will try to include voices of disabled women (short video clips) from different parts of the world stating what it means to them.
Clip from Khairani Barokka (Indonesia)

Clip from Dr Huhanna Hickey (New Zealand)

 Clip from Jamie Bolling, European Network of Independent Living (ENIL)

We will use the Social Model of Disability; that is to say it is systemic barriers, negative attitudes and exclusion by society (purposely or inadvertently), that disable us. We will also look at the different nuances of violence against disabled women, the different forms of abuse and how disabled women in particular are affected. How they survive inspite of having to face numerous challenges/barriers wherever they are in the world.
Speakers
Alexia Manombe-Ncube (Namibia)
Alexia is the Deputy Minister of Disability Affairs in the office of Vice President, Namibia. Recently appointed by President Hage Geingob to handle the affairs of physically challenged people, Manombe-Ncube has appealed to stakeholders to highlight the plight of the country’s disabled people in order for her to realise her ministerial declaration of intent. She also urged stakeholders to apply all their energy towards the empowerment and development of the disabled and specifically to close the gender equality gap.
She champions those in the rural areas saying disabled are have less resources and left to crawl because they do not have wheelchairs like people in the cities. Alexia will be speaking on the status of disabled in Naimbia and her own empowerment as a minister.

Lucia Bellini (UK)
Lucia currently works as an advocate for disabled people who are victims of domestic violence. She is also a Disability Rights Advocate where she assists people to access care packages, to be re-housed, to apply for benefits and to appeal against decisions they are not happy with. She has a masters in Global Citizenship, Identity and Human Rights from the University of Nottingham. In 2008 to 2010, she worked with disabled people’s organisations in Guyana where she provided disability equality and project management training to many disabled people throughout the country. She is particularly passionate about ensuring disabled women feel empowered and equipped to make their own choices. Lucia will be speaking about disabled women caught up in domestic violence in the UK.

Michelle Baharier (UK)
Michelle (UK) is a visual artist and disabled activist with lived experience of mental-distress for over three decades. She set up and ran a disabled lead arts organisation changing the way disabled people were perceived in the main stream.
She has worked with women’s organisations and on a telephone help line for women affected by violence, and with women from a variety of cultures including the Poppy Project which supports women who have been trafficked to the UK, the Diane project for Iranian women who need a safe place to be due to violence. Michelle will speak about her work with mental health survivors and their struggle for empowerment.

Suzannah Phillips (USA)
Suzannah is the Legal Advisor for Women Enabled International. Her work focuses on legal advocacy with the United Nations and other international and regional forums to strengthen human rights standards on the rights of women and girls with disabilities. Prior to joining WEI, Suzannah was the International Women’s Human Rights Clinical Fellow at CUNY School of Law, Legal Adviser for International Advocacy at the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), and a Human Rights Fellow with VIVO POSITIVO in Santiago, Chile. She is currently a member of the International Human Rights Committee at the New York City Bar Association. Suzannah received her J.D. from Columbia Law School and her B.A. in Social Anthropology from Harvard University. Suzannah will be speaking on how different legal instruments can be used to support empowerment of disabled women especially with Women Enabled International’s work.

Questions/comments

 

Sisters of Frida and CSW60

see information on CSW

Sisters of Frida will be at the CSW60 – the sixtieth session of the Commission on the Status of Women.

We are going as part of the CSW Alliance and NAWO.

See the NAWO’s Report (Pdf) on Sustainable Develpment Goals (SDGs) European Indicators (28th Jan 2016)

Here is the schedule of UN and Gov parallel events
​for sessions on disabled women –
UN Women, United Nations Inter-Agency Support Group for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (IASG)
Operationalising the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for Women and Girls with Disabilities
18 March, 11:30 AM-12:45 PM
Conference Room B – Conference Building (max. capacity: 53)
Contact: fajerman[at]un.org
A multi-stakeholder informal discussion to discuss and elaborate key priorities for women and girls with disabilities in the context of the operationalization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
UNICEF Disability and Protection Sections, the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children, UNFPA, Office of the SRSG on Violence Against Children, Global Partnership on Children with Disabilities (GPcwd) and the International Disability Alliance (IDA).
#ENDviolence Against Children and Adolescents with Disabilities
21 March, 01:00 PM – 03:00 PM
UNICEF House, 3 UN Plaza
As part of the campaign to #ENDviolence against children and adolescents with disabilities (launched on 3 December 2015) and to commemorate World Down Syndrome Day, UNICEF and partners are hosting a CSW side event on ending violence against children and adolescents with disabilities (with a focus on girls with disabilities).The event consists of: 20 minute performance of the play “Apple of My Eye”, an original play written by Tathiana Piancastelli, a 31 year old Brazilian artist with Down Syndrome. High-level panel discussion on violence, neglect stigma and discrimination against girls and boys with disabilities. ​More detail will be posted on http://www.gpcwd.org/endviolence.html closer to the event.

CSW Alliance events

Every  day   
UK    NGO    briefing    meeting    9-10    BIC
UK    Gov    briefing    6-7    UK    Mission – first    week
Tuesday   15   March  10.00 –     11.30    BIC
Displaced  women and  girls  –  the price of gender  (NAWO)
6-­‐7.30  UK  Mission  Ambassador’s reception  Invitation only
 Wednesday 16 March
3-­‐4.30  Round table with parliamentarians for young people
(IPU, UK NGO CSW Alliance)
Thursday 17th March
10-­‐11.30  BIC Women and Water (NAWO)

Time: 2:30 PM Venue: CCUN Boss
Sustainable Development Goals or Sidelining Disabled Girls?: Making SDGs Stand for All Women and Girls (SoF, Women Enabled Int)
3.00-­‐4.30    UK  Mission Redefining feminism: the voice of young women  – SDGs and VAWG what is the legacy? (NAWO)

 Frida 18th March
10-11.30 BIC The real meaning of empowerment – how best to ensure implementation of the SDGs (Advance) (NAWO YWA)
12:30pm,   CCUN Drew room Training in implementation: the role of civil society in making the SDGs Work (Pacific Rim Institure for Development Education) (NAWO YWA)
16:30-­‐18:00    CCUN Second Floor  ‘Closing the Gender Gap – From the World Humanitarian Summit to implementation’ (CARE, Government of Jordan, CSW Alliance)
 Thursday   24   12.30   Chapel   CCUN  
A   Dialogue:   Survivors   in   a   disabling   environment:   what   does   empowerment   of  disabled   women  mean   globally?   (Sisters  of  Frida,   Women   Enabled   International,   NAWO)

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)

The Commission on the Status of Women

A Guide to CSW

(copyright) Produced by: The National Alliance of Women’s Organisations (NAWO)

With thanks to: Dr. Annette Lawson Zarin Hainsworth Charlotte Cheeseman Rosie Fox

The National Alliance of Women’s Organisations

United House,

North Road,

N7 9DP

0207 697 3468

info@nawo.org.uk

www.nawo.org.uk

What is the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)?

CSW is a global, intergovernmental body that meets annually at the United Nations Headquarters in New York for two weeks around International Women’s Day (8th March). CSW evaluates the progress of UN member states in working toward achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment, drawing on the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA). The BPfA is a global policy document on gender equality, described as ‘the most progressive blueprint ever for advancing women’s rights’ by the organisation UN Women. CSW is attended by representatives of states and hosted by the UN. Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are invited to attend by Governments; as such this privilege is reliant upon a good working relationship between States and their NGOs. Each year new reports and recommendations papers are produced outlining actions that are aimed at accelerating and progressing women’s rights across the globe in social, political, civil, economic and educational fields. Most years this takes the form of an ‘Agreed Document’ that is developed by States; which draws attention to obstacles and aspirations that have been highlighted by Government discussions over the course of CSW. However, occasionally a ‘Chair’s Statement’ is released instead. Additionally, resolutions might result from the exploration of key themes. Each year at CSW three themes form the focus of discussions; these are drawn from the following categories: Priority, Review and Emerging issues.

What is the purpose of CSW?

CSW is instrumental in determining global standards on gender equality, through the creation of new or updated text, which calls for more urgent action on certain issues and identifies gaps in implementation. CSW ensures that gender equality is mainstreamed on the UN agenda in a concise and transparent way, to provide the basis for further concerted action. CSW provides NGOs, particularly women’s organisations, with the opportunity to directly lobby governments, bring critical issues to attention, and network with organisations with similar goals, as well as representatives of governments. The intergovernmental nature of CSW allows for important documentation of the reality of women’s lives and experiences throughout the world and creates opportunities for joint action on urgent issues.

How NGOs can influence CSW

NGOs are able to affect the outcome document and lobby governments on the ‘zero draft’ political declaration. Some NGOs will be invited to consult with governments directly, but there are also frequent opportunities to attend briefings and events with officials, present information, and ask questions. NGOs often lobby and influence governments on ‘red lines’, i.e. non negotiable areas and form caucuses around similar and overlapping interests to make this action more effective. NGOs have the option to create their own draft document, which can be used to apply pressure to governments to include specific wording and issues in the final declaration.

Brief history of CSW

1947: CSW first established, focused on formulating international standards to challenge discriminatory laws and raise awareness of global gender inequality. CSW was mandated to produce recommendations and reports promoting women’s advancement in political, economic, civil, social and education fields, and quickly became involved in drafting many international conventions on gender equality and human rights. NGOs with consultative status at ECOSOC were invited to participate as observers at CSW.

1946-1972: To support the codification of the legal rights of women, CSW began to collate and analyse data from member states on the discrimination faced by women, both in law and practice. The information gathered provided a comprehensive insight into the status of women worldwide, which in turn became a basis for international legal instruments. UN membership was expanding rapidly, and CSW focused increasingly on women and development.

1975: International Women’s Year was introduced to highlight women’s global inequality, celebrate the developments that women had made in progressing gender equality goals, and recognise the contributions women had made to the strengthening of world peace. 1975-1985: First World Conference on Women in Mexico City, followed by the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace, intended to bring legitimacy to the international women’s movement, and push women’s issues onto the global agenda. 1979: Legally binding Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was the first to define discrimination against women, and outlined internationally accepted principles on the rights of women.

1980: Second World Conference in Copenhagen focused on three areas of urgent concern: employment, health and education. Objectives included an updated Plan of Action and assessment of current implementation measures.

1985: Third World Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the Decade for Women resulted in the adoption of Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women.

1986-1995: CSW began to meet annually, and women’s issues were identified and mainstreamed as intersectional themes in other areas such as economic development and security. Violence against women, previously considered a private matter, was brought to the forefront of the international agenda and NGOs saw this as an important organising tool for the movement.

1995: Fourth World Conference on the Status of Women, leading to the Beijing Platform for Action, identified 12 specific critical areas to address and solutions considered essential to women’s advancement, with specific emphasis on women’s participation at all levels of decision making. BPfA is regarded as a significant milestone for advancing women’s issues on the global agenda, and Commissions since have focused on consolidating strategies outlined in this document.

Important developments from CSW

  • CSW contributed to the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and succeeded in including new gender-sensitive language in the final bill, removing references like ‘men’ as a synonym for humanity from the final document.
  • At Beijing 1995, NGOs successfully lobbied for the inclusion of the term ‘girl child’ to the BPfA, which meant that statistics about children had to be broken down according to gender. This was significant in identifying gendered differences in issues like access to education.
  • At CSWs in 2003 and 2004, the word ‘harmful’ was added by NGOs to CSW language, in order to properly identify the negative implications of specfiic traditional practices and cultural norms, and increase accountability.
  • In 2000, Resolution 1325 emerged from this CSW on ‘Women, Peace and Security’

Structure of CSW Meetings/briefings

There is an important meeting held the day before the first week by the NGO CSW Committee and there are two orientation meetings at the UN – one on each Monday. It is a good idea to attend these if this is your first time. Every evening a Link Caucus is held at which one or two members from the other caucuses reports so that the organising committee can know what is going on across the board and advise and call speakers in the morning appropriately. The morning meeting for NGOs is important. Representatives of governments come and speak, agencies speak and NGOs report. Any NGO wishing to address that meeting will find it helpful to speak to a committee member to arrange it beforehand. Side events, panels & round tables NGOs organise “side-events”, while agencies and governments hold round tables and panel discussions. Side events are usually located in the Church House across from the UN, while round tables and panels are held in the UN building itself, and this is where negotiated agreed conclusions are drawn up around the priority theme. NGOs will sometimes be invited to consult in these sessions. There is a calendar of events, and a diary for NGO activities, and most events are advertised on posters and daily calendars.

General discussion

General discussion is held between 3pm-6pm every day and is open to everybody.

Themes

Discussion at CSW is organised around a priority theme and a review theme, and agreed conclusions are drawn up from both to take forward. An emerging issue is also identified.

Recent themes:

2014:

Priority theme: Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls.

Review theme: Access and participation of women and girls to education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work.

Emerging theme: Women’s access to productive resources.

2015:

CSW undertook a review of progress made in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, 20 years after its adoption at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. The review (Beijing+20) also included the outcomes of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly, the first five-year assessment conducted after the adoption of the Platform for Action, which highlighted further actions and initiatives. The session also addressed opportunities for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women in the post-2015 development agenda.

2016:

Priority theme: Women’s empowerment and its link to sustainable development.

Review theme: The elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls (agreed conclusions from the fifty-seventh session).

Who attends CSW? How do they participate?

NGOS:

NGOs accredited to ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council of the UN) may attend CSW, though how they can participate differs from governmental bodies. Broadly speaking, NGOs can use CSW to meet and lobby government delegations, work on a draft outcome document and network with other groups to establish caucuses over critical issues for more effective lobbying. NGOs attend side events organised by UN entities and most organise parallel events held outside of the UN. Preceding the CSW there are deadlines to submit written statements to be included in the official CSW documentation, usually several months before CSW, and another to make oral statements during general discussion at CSW, usually a month or two before. A limited number of NGOs with consultative status will also be able to make oral interventions during panel discussions at CSW and deliver speeches to the commission on behalf of caucuses or coalitions. Some NGOs can also attend public open meetings and are occasionally allowed informal meetings with governments to work on problems preventing progress with text.

Government representatives:

Government representatives participate at several levels of the CSW. The UK team is led by the most senior member of the gender section of the GEO (Government Equalities Office) and is largely comprised of civil servants along with some ministers. Governments work and negotiate with other member states to ensure commitments are made and aim to produce new text on gender equality measures which correspond with policy goals. UK NGOs can play a role in the official delegation but since the closure of WNC in 2010 they have not done so. The EU is represented by one voice, which always originates from the state of the EU presidency, and the European Women’s Lobby usually sends a member for the EU official delegation.

UN entities:

UN entities, such as UN Women, are primarily responsible for the CSW. They organise expert groups, seminars and can contribute in intergovernmental meetings, liaise with the NGO Subcommittee and with NGOs generally.

Recognised Caucuses: At the preparatory meeting for NGOs organised by the NGO CSW Committee, caucuses are established around themes and around regions which will meet every day or several times per week to discuss problems emerging during the intergovernmental sessions and to take their goals forward. These caucuses are recognised by the NGO Organising Committee at CSW and will be asked to report at the NGO general meeting which takes place at 9–9.45am every day. There are always Regional Caucuses, whilst others are organised around specific themes and issues.

Text:

Often governments find it useful if NGOs can prepare text which meets their goals. The European Commission is particularly appreciative of this as is the UK government. Caucuses often work on text. NGOs will work hard to influence whatever outcome document there is. During the first week sticking points will need lobbying but in the second week lobbying becomes crucial to get the most progressive text possible and to hold the line on vital issues for women already developed in earlier UN documents. Text is important—it contains the ideas to which governments have agreed.

CSW Guide 2016 PDF format