SOF CRPD Shadow Report : UK Initial Report on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Disabled peopleâs 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 conventionÂ
Sisters of Frida wrote a short shadow report on 3 Articles with List of Issues. We also contributed to the ROFA shadow report.
Intersectionality and disability at WOW Festival 2017
Main talks programme panel âIntersectionality for Beginnersâ 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 LisneyÂ 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 isnât . This is before I even heard of the term â intersectionalityâ, the multiple oppression that arise out of having multiple identities, Â 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 internationalÂ 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 itâs inÂ 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 womenâs day events and me here at WOW.Â Disability and feminism. Women organisations do not know much about disability and disabled peopleâs 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. Itâs a natural reaction that you donât join when you canât 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. Â We have had discussions on disability and theÂ 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 itâs a physical visible impairment ) as disabled peopleÂ because of the negative perspectives, stigma and non representation. But I know this goes for other communities not justÂ 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.Â Thank you.
Why does much of the womenâs 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 Newhamâs Disability Forum; and Simone Aspis, Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE) campaigner. Chaired by Michelle Daley of the Sisters of Frida disabled womenâs collective.”
Other photos from the Women of the World Festival with SoF and disabled women at FlickrÂ Â Â
We collaborated on ‘Disabled women missing from history’ these were exhibited at the cafe of the Royal Festival Hall
Sarah Rennie: Women’s Day Off?
On Saturday, at Women of the World festival, I found myself on the panel for the planning meeting of âWomenâs Day Offâ.Â This is being organised by the Womenâs Equality Party for 2017 toÂ 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 weâre 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 âvirtualâ participation channels for those that cannot participate physically. This leads me to support needs. How will I Â participate if my support system breaks down for the day because my PA team have jumped on a coach to London and Iâm lying in bed bursting for the loo?
Letâs face it, my PAs wonât leave me. So they wonât take the ‘day offâ. 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 wonât be. Perhaps our solution will be that I inform my local authority that I have a credible belief my PAs will âstrikeâ 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 WEPâs 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 âburden of careâ. Firstly, I receive support, not care. Letâs 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 âburden of careâ 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 RennieÂ is a director of the Wisdom Factory CIC, a social enterprise in Birmingham. As a former solicitor, her day-to-day work isÂ research and governance advice. However, Sarah deliversÂ disability equality training nationwide andÂ acts as a consultant for select clients on internal equality working groups. She is also vice-Chair of the cityâs Access Committee. She is also on the Sisters of Frida Steering Group.
Disabled women speak at the WoW Festival
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)
11.30Â 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
Sisters of Frida AGM 25th March 2017 1-3.30 pm
Please do come to our AGM at Blackfriars SettlementÂ
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
And sign up at the eventbrite.
Looking forward to seeing you all!
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
MEP Soraya Post invited the civil society, NGOâs 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 âthere is a gap in Womenâs organisations and disabled peopleâs organisations
- – advocate disabled womenâs rights â 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 â 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,Â 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 â
- Access to education â 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 â including web accessibility, for knowing whatâs 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 â 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 â 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 âluckyâ to be in a relationship even if it is an abusive relationship and there is a real fear of care support being withdrawn.Â Disabled women see violence and abuse as âpart of lifeâ : 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.
Professor Stankoâs (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.
âThese women face almost unsurmountable obstacles to justice, their rape is highly unlikely to carry a sanction, and in that sense, it is decriminalised.â
âVictim vulnerabilities effectively protect suspects from being perceived as credible rapistsâ.
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.
Cold, chaotic and claustrophobic at times – but we were there at the Women’s March last Saturday!
We sent out this press release on the day of the march
âSisters of Frida are joining the Womenâs 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.
âWhilst 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 Womenâs March on London to open up this space to those unable to join us today.
âThis 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.
âDisabled 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.â
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 theÂ disabled women voices.
We thank the Women’s Equality Party for their support.
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 theÂ 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. Â 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. Â 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.
And if you’re unable to march on Saturday?Â
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 onÂ Pall MallÂ from the north, at the bottom of Regent Street; from the south,Â 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,Â 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 email@example.com
Focus Group participants required: Why Women-Only services matter.
To feed into the Womenâs Resource Centresâ (WRC) research into Why Women-Only services matter.
Save the date!
Saturday, 10th December
Arrive from 1:30 (tea and coffee available), 2-4pm Focus Group.
Unit 3 Marquis Estate, St Pauls Road N1 2SY.
The Number 30 and 277 runs past us and we are a short walk from Canonbury Station which is fully wheelchair accessible.
We would like between 8 â 15 women who access / are a part of Sisters of Frida to be participants in one of our focus groups.
We would provide all women service users who participate in the focus group ÂŁ30 as a small thank you.
WRC are updating their Why Women-Only research, originally completed in 2007. WRC’s members want this research updated because the need for robust, concrete evidence of the importance and value of women-only services remains vital. The link to the original research is here:
We are running 6 focus groups, with a range of diverse women-only services. In the focus group I will ask questions about why accessing a ‘by women for women’ service is important to them, and what difference coming to a women-only service has made to their lives; what being in a peer-led group means to them, and what kind of issues they are exploring through Sisters of Frida. I will be facilitating the focus groups, which will each run for a maximum of two hours.
The focus groups will be completely confidential. No service user will be identified in the research. I will record focus groups on a Dictaphone, and transcriptions will be used to outline themes, and to use quotes. You can get a copy of the focus group transcript if you wish.
The research is due to be published in March 2017.
Focus groups conducted by Darlene Corry. Please send n email to firstname.lastname@example.org if interested.
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:Â Think, feel, laugh, shake, desire and moreâŚ..
With food and discussion
Please note the films contain controversial themes, they also contain scenes of nudity and frank explicit discussion of sexual acts and sexual desire as well as scenes depicting violence.
Date and Time
Sat 26 November 2016, 12:00 â 17:00 GMT
Disability Action In Islington, unit 3 Marquess Estate
St Paul’s Road, London N1 2SY
Please register at the event briteÂ or write to email@example.com
(A rebellious young woman with cerebral palsy leaves her home in India to study in New York, unexpectedlyfalls in love, and embarks on an exhilarating journey of self-discovery.
With Kalki Koechlin, Revathy, Sayani Gupta)
and Sins Invalid
(“Sins Invalid is a performance project on disability and sexuality that incubates and celebrates artists with disabilities, centralizing artists of color and queer and gender-variant artists as communities who have been historically marginalized from social discourse”)
Please register at the event briteÂ
or write to firstname.lastname@example.orgÂ