Â On the last week of February, two Sisters of Frida, Rachel O’ Brien and Eleanor Lisney joined other women NGOs for the review of UK government on CEDAW –Â The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women,Â often referred to as the âwomenâs bill of rightsâ, and it spells out womenâs right to equality and non-discrimination. They were funded by the EHRC to attend the examination.
They met with Ana PelĂĄez NarvĂĄez, the only disabled woman on the committee and they spoke on the needs of disabled women and the importance of CEDAW.
Before the event, Eleanor was in the core group steering group in the shadow report prepared by the Women Resource Centre for England (see the shadow reports). We also did our own Shadow Report supported by Women Enabled International and met with Amanda McRae while they were in Geneva.
Ana PelĂĄez NarvĂĄez meeting with Rachel and Eleanor from SOF, Janet Veitch, Viv Hayes from WRC and Amanda McRae from Women Enabled International.
Rachel and Eleanor with other delegates from Women NGOs
Rachel speaking to the CEDAW committee
Some Sisters of Frida went to ENIL 2017 Freedom Drive,Â which brought together 300 Independent Living activists from 19 countries in Brussels.
It brought an an end to a week of promoting independent living, peer support, protest and celebration of disability rights. The Freedom Drive has brought together around 300 independent living activists from 19 countries, from as far East as Albania, to Norway in the North.
Among the main Freedom Drive demands were the end to institutionalisation of disabled people across Europe, access to personal assistance in all countries, full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the end to cuts to support services and benefits for disabled people.
Lani Parker and Michelle Daley said:
We also met some MEPs,Â Anthea McIntyre MEP,Â Keith Taylor MEP,Â Molly Scott-Cato MEP,Â Wajid Khan MEP, andÂ Daniel Dalton MEP, among others to ask them questions on independent living, accessibility, inclusive education, disability rights after Brexit, freedom of labour as part of the EU among other issues.
The night before the march we met up with other British attendees for dinner, including Sarah Rennie (Sisters of Frida, Steering Group member) , who had to leave before the march.
We were outside the European Parliament the next day to join the other ENIL Freedom marchers on the streets of Brussels.
Thank you all for all who came with us. Thank you for ENIL to organising this and we wish Zara Todd, as incoming director, the best for the future.
More photos at Sisters of Frida Flickr account.
Sisters of Frida would like to give huge congratulations to Zara Todd for her new post as the incoming director of ENIL.
She will be taking over from Jamie Bolling, who has been a great supporter of Sisters of Frida. We give her our best wishes for her next plans and some of us hope to see her at this years Freedom Dive in Brussels.
We’re happy that Zara will continue as one of the Sisters of Frida’s directors.
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.
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
Here we are featuring some of the blogs/websites by Sisters of Frida
Hello! Iâm Michelle Daley and Iâm 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 1950âs. 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.
Hereâs where you can find out more about my career background.
Why follow me?
Through endless surfingÂ it is clearÂ 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 toÂ share your own experiences.
I am currentlyÂ a Research FellowÂ inÂ the School of Education at the University of Sheffield.Â Prior to this post, IÂ became the inaugural Ethel Louise Armstrong Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Disability Studies, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.
IâmÂ a disabled feminist and public sociologist who believes in the power and politics ofÂ co-production and arts methodologies. To me,Â researchÂ isÂ 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.Â Please feel free to haveÂ a look around, and donât hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.
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 UKÂ Equal LivesÂ .
I am a trustee of a childrenâs literature charityÂ outside in worldÂ and a board member ofÂ ENILÂ and chair of itâs youth network.
I am also a director ofÂ Sisters of Frida, a disabledÂ womenâs collective.
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 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. Iâm also embarking on a new project.. so read this place!
Please read my resumĂ©s for more details of my work.
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.
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.
Last night one of my new colleagues expressed surprise on Â mention of my children â she said she had no idea I had children. She did not mean it to be malicious but the fact I have children prove surprising to most folks. I think, to be brutally honest, most people do not expect disabled people to be sexual beings let alone have offspring.
And for disabled women it is doubly problematic. Consider the stereotype of being a woman âas a caregiver, as a sex object, mother, housekeeper â you get the picture? Many of those roles are not seen to be within the capacity of disabled women. All the media, films of disability and sexuality are from the perspective of disabled men where they have their needs fulfilled by non-disabled women. Examples, Me Before You (even if he did not think it was enough to keep him living), The Sessions, there not many based on the needs of disabled women (excluding Children of a Lesser God).
There is not much space afforded to disabled women on sexuality and how to factor in disability in the search for companionship, romance, relationships and sex. The narratives are missing. I was made aware how much so when I joined the group of women who went to the first workshop (there are a series of four workshops) lead by Sisters of Frida steering group members, Lani Parker and Dyi Huijg, on Dis/ability and Sexuality. This workshop was titled Crip Sex, Because We Want It Our Way
As disabled women we have a wide range of experiences, positive and negative, around disability, sex and sexuality. Disabled women are sexy, sexual, passionate, loving, caring, desirable, hot, beautiful, strong and much more! Our experiences of sexuality are also affected by different kinds of oppressions such as ableism, racism, sexism, heteronormativity, classism and age.
In this workshop we will explore what sex means for us as disabled women, non-normative sex, positive self-image, exploring sex alone and sex with others
I felt we really shared our experiences as disabled women intersected by faith, culture, and sexual orientation. We examined the differences with impairments, acquired and from a young age, we spoke about chronic illnesses, the barriers and effects of medication and age. Does sex alleviate pain, do we/should we have sex when we are in pain? We compared the attitudes of social workers, medical practitioners and partners â in and out of relationships, domestic abuse from families, society and community pressures.
I cannot wait for the next session. I hope more people will come to visit this wonderful space where we afford each other sisterhood and non-judgemental sharing.
Themes and dates of the workshops
Workshop 1: Crip Sex, Because We Want It Our Way (finished)
In this workshop we will explore what sex means for us as disabled women, non-normative sex, positive self-image, exploring sex alone and sex with others.
Date: Sat 30 July
Workshop 2: When It Doesnât Feel Good and It Isnât Right
In this workshop we will discuss negative experiences and difficulties we have around sex and sexuality, our boundaries, consent, privacy and ableism in relationships.
Date: Sat 27 Aug
Workshop 3: Disabled Desire: Sexy and Sensual Possibilities
In this workshop we will discuss positive experiences we have and want to have around sex and sexuality, pleasure, and what it means to desire and be desired.
Date: Sat 17 Sept
Workshop 4: Sex: Getting What You Want and Need
Here we will build on the other workshops, and discuss how to develop confidence and feel empowered to do and want sex differently, challenge internalised oppression and other obstacles, and talk about how to put our desires and needs into practice.
Date: Sat 22 Oct
this project was funded by
Eleanor Lisney is a founder member and coordinator of Sisters of Frida. She is an access advisor, an NUJ member on the New Media Industrial Council and the Equality Council. She is also on the British Council Disability Advisory Panel and the web team of the International Network of Women with Disabilities.
Here are some of them. Videos coming soon.
Many thanks to Rosa UK for enabling this event
We were told about the possibility to add a submission to the UN CESCRÂ Committee which is reviewing the UK at their next session in JuneÂ by the International Disability Alliance.
Armineh Soorenian with Eleanor Lisney with some help from others for references came together with this Submission to CESCR Committee.Sisters of Frida.UK. ENIL also published it under the headingÂ Rights of UK Disabled Women in Spotlight
Sisters of Frida (SoF), a disabled womenâs collective based in the UK, highlighted a number of developments that have negatively impacted on disabled people, in their submission to the UN Committee on the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The input provided will feed into ongoing review of the UK by the Committee.
The submission has identified a number of restrictions disabled people face with respect to their economic and social rights (as set out in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights), particularly the impact of austerity measures on their rights enjoyment and exercise.
Among other, SoF has expressed concerns about increasing institutionalisation of disabled people, as a result of the lack of adequate housing strategies. It also warned that the cuts to Access to Work and the Employment Support Allowance have led to further marginalisation of disabled people.
Finally, the submission focuses on Article 10 of the ICESCR â on the protection of family, mothers and children. It sets out barriers faced by disabled women and of those, disabled women from black and ethnic minorities (BME), calling for an amendment to the Serious Crime Act 2015.
See also the article in Disability News Service.
The number and quality of the recommendations made throughout the document was remarked on because ‘it is not a common practice for the committee to address the rights of disabled people in particular women, so comprehensively – re disproportionate impact of austerity measures, social protection, poverty, violence, employment, housing’ etc.
It emphasised problems withÂ welfare reform, saying it was âdeeply concernedâ about âthe various changes in the entitlements to, and cuts in, social benefitsâ,Â including the reduction of the household benefit cap, the four-year freeze on certain benefits and the reduction in child tax credits. It added that these changes adversely affect âwomen, children, persons with disabilities, low-income families and families with two or more childrenâ.
And it called for more information in the UKâs next report to the committee on the impact of its national strategy on gender-based violence, particularly on disabled women and girls.
See John Pring’s article in Disability News Service UN report raises âdeep concernsâ about impact of austerity on disabled people
Read also UK Human Rights Blog on the report
Eleanor Lisney is a campaigner, founder member, public speaker and director of Sisters of Frida. She is an access advisor, an aspiring creative practitioner and co founder of Culture Access CIC, which is about supporting access, bringing an inclusive edge intersectionally.
She was born in Malaysia and has lived in Strasbourg, France and studied at Austin, Texas. She has written for Media Diversified andÂ is passionate about embedding intersectionality in all her work. She has two grown up children.
Tumu Johnson is a mental health worker and group facilitator with experience of working in front line support services, research and community organising. She is currently studying for a Masters in Mental Health Studies whilst working in the NHS and also provides freelance training around mental health and wellbeing.
Tumu is committed to making the world a more accessible place and fighting for the rights of disabled people. She is a feminist who takes an intersectional approach and hopes to draw on her experiences as a black disabled woman to contribute to achieving social justice.
(On sabbathical) Kirsty Liddiard isÂ currentlyÂ a Research Associate within theÂ Centre for the Study of Childhood and Youth, in theÂ School of Education at the University of Sheffield.Â Prior to this post, Kirsty became the inaugural Ethel Louise Armstrong Postdoctoral Fellow at theÂ School of Disability Studies, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada. Kirsty’s research explores the intimate lives of disabled people. HerÂ interests sit primarily at the intersections of disability, impairment and embodiment and gender, sexuality, love, intimacy and citizenship in contemporary dis/ableist cultures (Liddiard 2016 2015; 2014; 2013a; 2013b).Â As aÂ public sociologist (see Burowoy 2013) and activist scholar, Kirsty centres co-production in her research, and views the effective, ethical and accessible communication of knowledge as a form of social, political, and economic justice. She lives happily in a little village with The Boy and The Kid.
Lani Parker has worked on disability issues in various capacities including taking part in campaigns, facilitating training, and working within disabled people’s organisations in the areas of advice, information and advocacy. She has a particular passion for doing the work of connecting social justice issues. She hopes that Sisters of Frida will benefit from her experience as a disabled woman and commitment to disability justice in a broad sense.
She is excited to use her skills to contribute towards tackling some of the concrete issues that disabled women face.
Rachel O’Brien is the Independent Living Campaigns Officer at Inclusion London after working at the National Union of Students as the Disabled Studentsâ Officer where she did work on movement building and political education, and campaigns around stopping the privatisation of the NHS and stopping and scrapping Universal Credit.
(On sabbathical) Sarah RennieÂ is 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 Birmingham cityâs Access Committee.
Bethany Young is actively involved in with Third Sector organisations, promoting equality and advocating for disability rights. In her campaign representative role with Disability Rights UK Bethany has explored the challenges of the Disability Employment Gap. As a strong communicator, she has successfully engaged with the public and campaign partners to provide a more three dimensional picture of employment barriers. Education and learning is an ongoing motivation. Bethany works to improve access to regional educational and cultural resources. She also is passionate about her youth work, mentoring and writing. Being a part of Sisters of Frida is an amazing opportunity to grow, develop and share knowledge. Bethany plans to apply her abilities to the human rights landscape and the inequalities disabled women can experience.