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Intersectionality and disability at WOW Festival 2017

Main talks programme panel “Intersectionality for Beginners” at Women of the World Festival 2017, in London South Bank. This panel featurered a keynote from Lydia X. Z. Brown and panel of Guppi Bola, Kuchenga Shenje, Emma Dabiri, and Eleanor Lisney (from Sisters of Frida) chaired by Hannah Azieb Poole. Transcripts kindly provided by Lydia)

This was the prepared speech by Eleanor Lisney  for the panel (but not read out)

When I came back to the UK to take up the position of relationship manager at a university, people told me I ticked many brownie points. I learn to realise they meant I had many disadvantages , because I was a woman, of an ethnic minority, and disabled. Some said it must be an advantage in applying for jobs but believe me, it isn’t . This is before I even heard of the term ‘ intersectionality’, the multiple oppression that arise out of having multiple identities,  and understand the impact it had on my life and that of others.

In January, I was invited to speak as a Sister of Frida at a hearing at the European Parliament on domestic violence and disabled people, and I used a personal example when mentioning intersectionality. When I was living in France I went through a divorce process, the court saw me as a non white, disabled woman with a bad grasp of the French language. My ex, a white British man, is an international  civil servant, had many human rights’ lawyers as his friends. I did not even know French divorce laws were different from those in the UK.

I think it was partly from that experience I co founded Sisters of Frida – understanding the complexity of having multiple identities- and also it’s in  Article 6 of the Convention on Rights of People with Disabilities.

States Parties recognize that women and girls with disabilities are subject to multiple discrimination, and in this regard shall take measures to ensure the full and equal enjoyment by them of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The UK has ratified the CRPD and In fact, quite a few of disabled activists are heading for Geneva because of the examination of the uk govt for its implementation. I wanted to go but it conflicted with the international women’s day events and me here at WOW.  Disability and feminism. Women organisations do not know much about disability and disabled people’s organisations are gender neutral, we hope to build bridges there and make a change. Just insisting on our rights to be heard and to make spaces more inclusive and accessible are challenges. I hope we have made some difference. If I make a mention here, one Sister of Frida, is Rebecca Bunce who is a co founder of IChange has campaigned tirelessly for the Istanbul Convention and spoken on the need for access at public spaces for disabled women.

The disability movement is very white here and we would like to promote and make black and ethnic minority women more visible. It’s a natural reaction that you don’t join when you can’t identify with the people in it. And to show that they are not just engaged in being there as recipients but also in leadership roles.  We have had discussions on disability and the  cultural differences on the impact of disability. Many BME women come and share with me about their disabilities but they do not self identify (unless it’s a physical visible impairment ) as disabled people  because of the negative perspectives, stigma and non representation. But I know this goes for other communities not just  for Black and women of colour .

And in the UK austerity measures by this government have meant that the intersections of being BME and disabled and women mean that many of us are reeling from the compounding cuts in benefits and services. In all areas of our lives.

My friend and fellow Co founder of SoF, Michelle Daley, has spoken on the importance of intersectionality and the social services on Wednesday, she speaks as a black disabled woman

I quote her:

“I am a woman, a black woman and a disabled woman. In most areas of my life I’m forced to compartmentalised my different intersections…. I relate this point from one of my assessments of need. So when I explained that I needed help with skin care, which is not related to my impairment, it was dismissed. The assessor had no knowledge about skin sensitive and dryness often experienced by Black People and the need for daily skin care to prevent discomfort. In this example it demonstrated how my different intersections as a Black Disabled Woman were not considered and how they interact with each other. ”

She is chairing the SoF panel at 1.15 this afternoon. I recommend you go listen to her and my other Sisters at that panel.  Thank you.

 

row of people at the front. Photo taken from the back, with many rows of headss

Sisters of Frida Panel at the WoW Festival 2017

Why does much of the women’s rights movement marginalise disabled women?

During the last weekend in London at the Women of the World Festival (WOW) a panel of speakers discussed why disability is so often left out of conversations about intersectionality, and surveyed the key battlegrounds that disabled women are fighting on.

The panel was organized by Sisters of Frida.
Speakers included Lydia X. Z. Brown, disability rights activist; Magdalena Szarota, Polish disability rights activist and HIA Polska Board Member; Sarifa Patel of Newham’s Disability Forum; and Simone Aspis, Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE) campaigner. Chaired by Michelle Daley of the Sisters of Frida disabled women’s collective.”

Other photos from the Women of the World Festival with SoF and disabled women at Flickr   

3 wheelchair users, oneyoung black, one middle aged East Asian and another white young woman. They are smiling at the camera.e

Becky, Eleanor and Emma

Sarah Rennie on the WEP panel

We collaborated on ‘Disabled women missing from history’ these were exhibited at the cafe of the Royal Festival Hall

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Sarah Rennie: Women’s Day Off?

Women's panel with one white woman speaking into the mic. $ other seated women, one wheelchair user and one woman in a headscarf.

Sarah Rennie on the WEP panel – photo by WEP Hackney&Islington

On Saturday, at Women of the World festival, I found myself on the panel for the planning meeting of ‘Women’s Day Off’.  This is being organised by the Women’s Equality Party for 2017 to coincide with the centenary of the Representation of the People Act and calls all women to not perform any paid or unpaid work for one day to raise awareness of gender inequality.

In my two minutes, I raised the issues of inclusion and shame.

Disabled women must be included in the organisation of the day and there needs to be a range of channels through which we can participate. We are providing paid and unpaid work and being exploited too. In fact we’re 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 ‘virtual’ participation channels for those that cannot participate physically. This leads me to support needs. How will I  participate if my support system breaks down for the day because my PA team have jumped on a coach to London and I’m lying in bed bursting for the loo?

Let’s face it, my PAs won’t leave me. So they won’t take the ‘day off’. This is a problem for the WEP campaign. My PAs are underpaid and undervalued by the State – they should be near the front of any rallies and marches but probably won’t be. Perhaps our solution will be that I inform my local authority that I have a credible belief my PAs will ‘strike’ that day and this will put them on notice that I will be in danger. A contingency plan will need to be put in place. Even if my PAs come to work that day, the time it will take to put this plan in place will cause disruption and inconvenience for local authorities and WEP’s 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 “burden of care”. Firstly, I receive support, not care. Let’s 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 ‘burden of care’ risk adding to the emotional abuse we are already experiencing.

It is important that the campaign keeps us included in the planning process in order to allow disabled women to amplify the messages and add our protest. But it must also take responsibility for preventing attacks on our safety and dignity; we cannot be collateral damage in this day of action.

 

 

Sarah Rennie, a young looking blonde short haired wheelchair user with an Asian young looking woman next to her. behind them is a bright pink WOW sign in lights/

Sarah Rennie with friend, Natasha Hettihewa-Young

Sarah Rennie is a director of the Wisdom Factory CIC, a social enterprise in Birmingham. As a former solicitor, her day-to-day work is research and governance advice. However, Sarah delivers disability equality training nationwide and acts as a consultant for select clients on internal equality working groups. She is also vice-Chair of the city’s Access Committee. She is also on the Sisters of Frida Steering Group.

Disabled women speak at the WoW Festival

wow logoIf 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

Friday

The Genius Gap: women and creativity

Khairani Barokka

1:15 pm, 10 Mar 2017

Saturday

11.30

Women’s Day Off (with Women’s Equality Party)

Sarah Rennie

Intersectionality for beginners

11.30  The Clore Ballroom, Level 2, Royal Festival Hall

Lydia X.Z. Brown and Eleanor Lisney

Disability, women taking action (Sisters of Frida Panel)

1.15 Blue Bar, Level 4, Royal Festival Hall

Lydia X.Z Brown, Sarifa Patel, Michelle Daley, Simone Aspis, Magdalena Szarota

3:00 pm, Rambert, Marie Rambert Studio
How can we challenge the stigma around women’s mental health

Sunday

11.30

No Country for Young Women

Green Bar, Level 4, Royal Festival Hall

Becky Olaniyi

11.30am

Why Toilets are no joke for women

The Clore Ballroom, Level 2, Royal Festival Hall

Eleanor Lisney

Green Bar, Level 4, Royal Festival Hall
1:15 pm

Breaking the Silence – Giving Testimony

Weston Roof Pavilion, Level 6, Green side, Royal Festival Hall

Emma Round

Gender Revolution

Exhibition

Missing From History

 

 

 

Sisters of Frida AGM 25th March 2017 1-3.30 pm

Please do come to our AGM at Blackfriars Settlement 

from 1 to 3.30 pm with a steering group meeting 3.30 – 5pm.

Refreshments (tea and coffee offered)

BSL interpretation offered.

Please send access requirements to hello@sisofrida.org

And sign up at the eventbrite.

Looking forward to seeing you all!

 

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.

Lani Parker’s Sideway Times The Podcast

Lani, a white woman is smiling, and wearing a red top.

Lani Parker

Sideways Times is a UK based podcast, in which we talk about the politics of disability and disability justice. Through this podcast I hope to have many conversations which broaden, deepen and challenge our understandings of how we work against ableism and how this connects to other struggles.

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

 

 

 

Focus Group participants required: Why Women-Only services matter.

To feed into the Women’s Resource Centres’ (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 – 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 £30 as a small thank you.

WRC are updating their Why Women-Only research, originally completed in 2007. WRC’s members want this research updated because the need for robust, concrete evidence of the importance and value of women-only services remains vital. The link to the original research is here:
http://thewomensresourcecentre.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/whywomenonly.pdf

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 hello@sisofrida.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:  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 

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