logo

Bringing disabled women together, mobilising
and sharing through lived experiences

Subscribe To Newsletter

Blogs/websites from Sisters of Frida

Here we are featuring some of the blogs/websites by Sisters of Frida

Michelle Daley’s website

Michelle, a black woman, wearing a white top, is speaking in front of a microphone

Michelle Daley

Hello! I’m Michelle Daley and I’m a proud black disabled woman. I was born and raised in the East End of London to Jamaican parents that moved to England in the 1950’s. I have worked in the disability field for over 15 years on international, national and local issues for public sector and voluntary organisations. I am privileged that through my work I am able to express myself and support others to do the same.

Here’s where you can find out more about my career background.

Why follow me?

Through endless surfing it is clear that there is a lack of representation by British black disabled people in archives and on-line particularly from British black disabled women. I want to share resources including some of my own works, post blogs and for you to share your own experiences.

Kirsty Liddiard’s website

Kirsty, a white woman, with short hair is looking at the camera. She is wearing a black top.

Dr Kirsty Liddiard

I am currently a Research Fellow in the School of Education at the University of Sheffield. Prior to this post, I became the inaugural Ethel Louise Armstrong Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Disability Studies, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

I’m a disabled feminist and public sociologist who believes in the power and politics of co-production and arts methodologies. To me, research is inherently political, personal, and embodied, and collaborative and always community-focused. This website details my scholarly and research interests, as well as my activist work. Please feel free to have a look around, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.

 

Zara Todd’s adventure blog

Zara, a white woman, is smiling at the camera. she has black rimmed glasses on

Zara Todd

I am a human rights activist from the UK. I have a background in disability, training and youth participation work. I identify as a disabled person and Feminist. I belive in equity and using intersectional and inclusive approaches.

This blog is primarily to document my Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship

A bit more about me

I am a born and bred Londoner who loves art, culture, travel and politics (although i am a left leaning non partisan).

I have a degree in psychology and a masters in Eastern European studies. I am interested in identity and decision making.

I have been involved in disability rights campaigning since childhood and have been active locally, nationally and internationally in the disabled peoples movement since the age of 17. Over the last 10 years I have worked in government and the NGO sector both in advisory and delivery roles.

Prior to this trip I was working for the biggest DPO in the UK Equal Lives .

I am a trustee of a children’s literature charity outside in world and a board member of ENIL and chair of it’s youth network.
I am also a director of Sisters of Frida, a disabled women’s collective.

Eleanor Thoe Lisney’s website

Eleanor, an East Asian woman, is holding a mic. Her left hand is extended and she has an orange scarf with black markings.

Eleanor Lisney

Hi, I am Eleanor Thoe Lisney MA, MSIS, FRSA, AMBCS. I am passionate about access, human rights, disability culture, intersections of race, gender, disability. I am learning how to do digital strategy and smartphone film making. Recently I have become an emerging artist and making progress there.

I am a founding member and coordinator of Sisters of Frida,  a disabled women’s collective and Culture Access.

 

Sophie Partridge’s website

Sophie, a white woman looks to the left, has short hair wearing a grey top.

Sophie Partridge


I work as an actor, writer & workshop artist, if you are interested in employing me for any such work, I would love to hear from you.

I am a disabled Actor living in London, who trained with Graeae Theatre Co. I have worked extensively since, including my performance as Coral in the award winning Graeae play Peeling.

Other stage performance includes work with the David Glass Ensemble, TIE in Nottingham, Theatre Resource in Essex and Theatre Workshop, Edinburgh. My Media work also includes photo modelling, corporate video and radio.

I also Write and regularly contributor to various print & on-line publications, including Able Magazine (column writer for 2 years) and Disability Arts on-line (blog & reviews). This, along-side writing my solo piece, Song of Semmersuaq. I’m also embarking on a new project.. so read this place!

Please read my resumés for more details of my work.

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

 

 

 

Carly Findlay: My face scared my cleaner away today

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.

This is my face up close. It’s red, shiny and a bit lopsided because of a dodgy lymph node that flares up because of my inflammation. It’s usually very smiley. Sometimes my hair is out of control, and sometimes there’s a few bits of wayward skin hanging off my face and hair. This is who I am.
Earlier this year my face scared the post office worker. Today it scared the cleaner. So much so, she ran away without completing the job.
It’s exhausting having a face that can scare people. Even more exhausting worrying I’m seeming like a victim as I recall events like these.
I work from home now. Every second Monday a cleaner comes. I usually leave the house to go to the library when they come, but today I needed to stay home until I finished something.
I greeted the cleaner, saying hello. She jumped, visibly shocked at my face. I let that one go.
A few minutes later I went out again to tell her to let me know when she needs to vacuum the room I’m in, and I’ll move for her. I spoke before I was in the room. As she turned around to look at me, she jumped again.
I told her “please don’t be scared of my face”, and said this is just how I look. I returned to the other room.
20 minutes later, I finished the task at hand, and realised I couldn’t hear or smell any cleaning being done. I looked through the house. It’s not very big. She wasn’t here.
She just left. Didn’t lock the door. Didn’t let me know. She left because she was scared of how I looked.

Read the rest on Carly’s blog.

 

Disability and sexuality film day: Sat 26 Nov, Islington, London

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:  Think, feel, laugh, shake, desire and more…..

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.

We welcome all self-identified women. We also welcome FtM, genderqueer and intersexed persons who, in terms of lived experience or identity, have experienced oppression as women in the past or present.

Date and Time

Sat 26 November 2016, 12:00 – 17:00 GMT

Location

Disability Action In Islington, unit 3 Marquess Estate

St Paul’s Road, London N1 2SY

View Map

 

Please register at the event brite  or write to sof.disabilitysexuality@gmail.com

Poster of a smiling woman holding a glass with a straw in her mouth. There is text announcing awards for the film

Margarita, with a straw 

(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

Image of webpage with naked person in bath tub

Sins Invalid: The film

(“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 brite 

or write to sof.disabilitysexuality@gmail.com 

A Big thank you to Queer Cafe!

Queer cafe, make new special friends, build community, chalked blackboard on the pavement outside a house in the evening.

Folks at Queer cafe were kind enough to invite Sisters of Frida to give a talk  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

At Youth Action Festival: our rights as women and girls

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.

Fleur leading the workshop, shes in a wheelchair but theres another woman in the picture

Fleur leading the workshop

program

programme

Visit from Deputy Minister, the Hon. Alexia Manombe-Ncube

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.

Four women and a man sitting around a table, two women wheelchair users, one with scooter. Shes holding a mobile

Sisters of Frida, Sophie and Eleanor, and Michelle Daley  joining on mobile phone, with the Hon. Alexia Manombe-Ncube and her colleagues

 

6 women, 1 man in group photo, 2 women in wheelchairs and one in a scooter.

At the Greenwich Association of Disabled People (GAD)