We launched this e zine last year in October, 2021. We decided against calling it a newsletter because it’s not just about our news but the voices of disabled women and non binary people, showing opinions, reflections and creative pieces.
We had members who wanted the possibility of sharing some of individual pieces so we’ re posting here for easy retrieval later.
We need you here
From Fleur Perry Fleur is a law student and disabled people’s activist living in the South West. Her main interests are accessible housing and Equality Act breaches.
Fighting for your needs and your rights can be draining in every way. You push and push against a sea of eyebrows slightly raised in amused disbelief, or bent into a sharp frown of âHow dare you?â or receive the same flat emails carefully constructed to make âGo awayâ sound like good business. If that seems familiar, you are not alone. You don’t need to fight this alone. Every member of the SoF community has met a barrier that needs smashing. As disabled women and non-binary disabled people, we know the impact it has, what it feels like, and have words for feels that non-disabled people have never had to know. We share those experiences, the bad and the good. We share knowledge and resources and music and poetry, building context and learning from each other. Judgement and shame, intrusive questions and gossip are for somewhere else – not here. Mutual solidarity, inclusion, and making space are key principles. We want you here. We want your opinions. We want your voice. Got something to say that no one’s ever said before? Say it here. Know something that you don’t think will make sense to anyone else? Try us! We want to understand. You will be heard. You will be believed. You will be valued. We think this is the first step to change. If we want to try to do something to make our world a better place to live, it has to work for everyone, and that’s means we need everyone. If we don’t have you, we’re missing out. I think the community is the most valuable part of SoF. The reports and opportunities to campaign on some of the biggest issues in the UK today are all built from the experiences of individuals, and the time and energy they each give to making sure that knowledge isn’t lost, but unleashed. What do you want to say?
âDisability justice is the art and the practice of honouring the bodyâ An interview with Lydia X.Z. Brown
In this interview with Lani Parker of Sideways Times, Lydia X.Z Brown talks about disability justice as a praxis which honours the body and the whole person. Disability justice is a radical framework which requires understanding the interconnected nature of oppression and that we must tackle all forms of oppression in order to change the system we live in. We also talk about differences in language, tensions within disability movements and the importance of using a variety of tactics amongst other thingsâŚ
Read or listen to it at Sideways Times. Thank you, Lani and Lydia for the podcast.
Sarahis 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.
I owe a great deal to Sisters of Frida.
Years ago, I was asked me to join the steering group and I experienced a major case of imposter syndrome. Looking back – Iâm not going to lie – I did have a lot to learn. I was in my late 20s and feeling pretty unsure about my identity. In fact, I would sometimes feel uncomfortable around disabled people due to what I now realise is a classic case of internalised ableism. I was a feminist, a solicitor-turned-access-consultant, a feminist and had started attending disability rights protests. Sheepishly, alone and stood at the back.
Within Sisters of Frida, I saw myself as the boring but useful person who could help with governance and report writing. In a space with such incredible and talented disabled women, I was just in awe. I listened a lot and absorbed their ideas and critiques like a sponge. Whilst I battled my insecurities, I was made nothing but welcomed and treated as one of the gang.
After helping out where I could, one of the first projects I really got my teeth into was the Serious Crime Act and the defence to the crime of coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship. I represented Sisters of Frida at the UN in Geneva, along with other DDPOs, to present evidence of violations on disabled peopleâs rights to the UN Committee on the Rights of Disabled People. This was one of the greatest honours of my life.
Over the years, my confidence grew but so did my personal self-esteem. I finally felt comfortable in my own skin and proud to be a disabled woman. Whenever anyone asks why, I always credit the experiences I had and friendships I made through Sisters of Frida.
But my newfound confidence in activism was bitter sweet. In 2019, I was about to face a pretty tough challenge: the block of flats I live in is wrapped in cladding like that of Grenfell Tower and riddled with fire safety defects. I knew that disabled people were facing additional financial and safety issues, such as lack of savings or means of escape, so I co-founded Claddag, a disability action group, with another disabled woman. Sadly for me, I knew I couldnât run the campaign and fulfil my commitment to Sisters of Frida so I had to resign from the latter. As expected, the team understood completely and have given me loads of emotional and practical help with Claddag.
If our fight for justice in the building safety crisis is successful, then my first task will be to knock on Sisters of Fridaâs door and ask if theyâll take me back to support with the work. As they are a group of compassionate, inclusive, uplifting and strong warriors and I have no reason to think they wonât welcome me home.
A unique voice: why Sisters of Frida Matters
by Bethany Young
Bethany is actively involved in with Third Sector organisations, promoting equality and advocating for disability rights. She is a SOF steering group member.
People often ask me why I joined Sisters of Frida. Why do you need it? In the past, I have asked the same question.. For years, I had soaked up the idea that my barriers came from having Cerebral Palsy. It was my job to overcome these. My experience of being both Disabled and a girl, then a woman, led to more isolation, and more hurdles that others didnât see. If I could not clear them or ignore them myself I was a failure. It was all my fault.
Looking back, these beliefs I was taught about myself made no sense. I was putting loads of effort and skill into every area of my life â from employment and Independent Living to family relationships and managing my CP. Nothing changed, in fact the barriers got worse. After reaching out for help, I asked myself â maybe the problem isnât me? I realised that so many of my experiences came from the strings attached to me. My CP is mine. My body and my mind are mine. These barriers are not. I felt relieved because my struggles made sense without shame or guilt. Everything I thought I knew about Disability shattered. Such a big realisation gave me a sense of hope and freedom, but also fear. I was starting again. Now I had asked the right questions, I needed answers.
I looked for mentors in the Disabled community to get peer support and find out more. I wanted an active community working for social change. Before long, I found Sisters of Frida â a disability organisation truly led by diverse Disabled women. Their inclusive vision and values, creativity and collaborative way of working all made me want to get involved.
Since joining Sisters of Frida, I have worked on lots of wonderful opportunities. Iâve written quotes for press releases, helped plan events, write reports and advocate for Independent Living. Planning for our future is exciting. We are unique because we recognise people donât exist in clinical, clear-cut tick boxes. Real life diversity is social, human and multi-layered. This idea drives Sisters of Fridaâs work and partnerships. We build relationships to connect with other womenâs organisations. We bring our lived experience, and knowledge to new audiences. I have amplified the voices of diverse Disabled women on current struggles, like Social Care or Covid-19. Our perspectives donât need to stay in an isolated bubble. Together, as Sisters of Frida, we spark better, bolder conversations to create change.
I am proud of all I have learned and achieved so far whilst working with everyone in Sisters of Frida. I am a better communicator, collaborator and activist. Working with these women shifted how I saw myself. I know my worth. I found my voice by listening to them. I found answers by learning from them. I am not alone, because together we are Sisters of Frida.
Sister Stories: Sisters of Frida submission call-out
Weâre excited to announce a call-out for the new Sisters of Frida blog series, and we need your help! This ongoing blog project is for you and will be shaped by you, the Sisters of Frida community. It will be an online space to share your experiences, stories and creativity, and help us to create a digital sisterhood and archive of disabled womenâs voices.
We want to showcase work by writers and artists living with chronic illness, mental illness, and disability. Your work doesnât need to be about those experiences exclusively, but we welcome and encourage submissions along those lines.
Weâre looking for contributions of things that inspire you, this can include non-fiction, fiction, poems, illustrations, photographs, essays, reviews, etc.
Here are some quotes we like:
âAt the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.â – Frida Kahlo
âCaring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.â – Audre Lorde
âHard things are put in our way, not to stop us, but to call out our courage and strength.â – Unknown
If youâd like to contribute:
Send all submissions with the subject SISTER STORIES: *TITLE OF PIECE* to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please include a short third-person bio and your pronouns, but if youâd like to remain anonymous, thatâs fine! Just let us know. If you also want to include a brief background about the piece, please feel free to do so.
Attach submissions to your email in an accessible format.
Non-fiction, essays, reviews should be no longer than 1,000 words.
Poetry/Artwork – Please submit no more than 5 individual pieces.
Languages: We welcome submissions in any language but please provide a translation if possible.
The blog will be updated monthly, so expect a calendarâs worth of stories! The frequency may increase depending on the number of submissions.
If you have an idea but need a bit of direction, let us know! We can work through it together, and help to guide whatever it is youâre creating. Just email email@example.com
* Sisters of Frida is an inclusive safe space for all self-identifying and non-binary disabled women. We do not tolerate sexism, homophobia, racism, transphobia or other forms of discrimination based on sexuality, age, gender expression, religion, education or socio-economic status.
Jennifer Brough is the curator of this set of stories/blog.
Jennifer is a writer and editor who lives with fibromyalgia and endometriosis. She is involved in projects at the Feminist Library and seeks to amplify the voices and experiences of self-identifying women. She is learning Spanish and dreaming of visiting Frida’s house in Mexico, so is very happy to be part of the Sisters of Frida community.
Sisters of Frida displayed at Rawthmells, RSA’s new coffeehouse
We are proud to be one of the first to be displayed at the new Rawthmells, the RSAâs 21st century enlightenment coffeehouse. it is an honour!
The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce is a London-based, British organisation committed to finding practical solutions to social challenges, with a Fellowship that is a global network of 29,000 people supporting the RSAâs mission to enrich society through ideas and action.
Rawthmells, the RSAâs 21st century enlightenment coffeehouse, is a place where Fellows and members of the public can encounter new and inspiring ideas.
(There is a separate entrance for level access entry – ring the doorbell to gain entry.)
Through a system of changing displays, coffeehouse guests will be exposed to the best new ideas from our Fellowship, stories from the archive, briefs and designs from the Student Design Awards, and the work of the Royal Designers for Industry appointed each year.
Changing displays in the Gerard Room, the first room as you enter the coffeehouse, place a spotlight on the innovative and interesting work of Fellows around the world including that of Sisters of Frida’s.
At Greenwich Yacht Club photo by Ruth Gardiner, Chocolate Films
Come join us in making a banner for #Processions
Artichoke will hold a series of banner making workshops led by Delaine Le Bas, a cross disciplinary artist who creates installations, performance, photography and film, at Blackfriars Settlement, 1 Rushworth Street, London SE1 ORB, on
Saturday 21st April, 14:00 â 16:30
Saturday 5th May, 14:00 â 16:30
Saturday 19th May, 14:00 â 16:30
The nearest accessible tube stop to Blackfriars Settlement is Southwark. Find more information on getting to the venue here.
For this workshop series, Artichoke invite members of Sisters of Frida, led by Delaine Le Bas, to make a unique centenary banner that will express the ideas, concerns and hopes of women in the 21st century. It is an opportunity to learn new skills from an experienced artist, make a unique, expressive banner to last and join thousands of women to celebrate 100 years of women having the vote at PROCESSIONS.
Please note: Participants attending these workshops should commit to attend all three workshops and are also invited to the PROCESSIONS London event on 10 June 2018.
PROCESSIONS is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take part in a mass participation artwork to celebrate one hundred years of votes for women. Artichoke invites women, those who identify as women and non-binary individuals across the UK to come together on the streets of Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh and London on Sunday 10th June 2018 to mark this historic moment in a living, moving portrait of women in the 21st century. PROCESSIONS is produced by Artichoke, the UKâs largest producer of art in the public realm, as part of 14-18 NOW, the UKâs official arts programme for the First World War centenary.
Delaine Le Bas is a cross disciplinary artist creating installations, performance, photography and film. She was one of the sixteen artists who were part of Paradise Lost The First Roma Pavilion Venice Biennale 2007. She worked with her late husband the artist Damian Le Bas on their installations Safe European Home? and projects Gypsy Revolution and Gypsy DaDa. Delaine created Romani Embassy in 2015. Delaine has created performance text works with her son the writer Damian James Le Bas. Her works have been included in Prague Biennale 2005 & 2007, Venice Biennale 2007 & 2017, Gwangju Biennale 2012, Zacheta National Gallery Of Art 2013, MWW Wroclaw Contemporary Art Museum 2014, The Third Edition Of The Project Biennial Of Contemporary Art D-0 Ark Underground Bosnia & Herzegovina 2015, Off Biennale Budapest 2015, Goteborg International Biennale For Contemporary Art Extended 2015, Critical Contemplations Tate Modern 2017.
Delaine is one of the curators for The First Roma Biennale 2018 and is an Associate Curator at 198 Contemporary Arts & Learning London U.K.
These workshops are one of Artichokeâs 10 banner commissions, as part of PROCESSIONSâ 100 Years 100 Banners programme. 100 women artists have been commissioned to make banners with community groups up and down the country in the lead-up to PROCESSIONS. The final banner made during these workshops will form part of PROCESSIONS, a mass participation artwork, and will go on to be publicly exhibited across the UK following the events.
Please contact Sisters of Frida, firstname.lastname@example.org,Â by Friday 20th April to register your place in the workshops.
Participants are required to be available for all the workshops and are invited to travel to London to carry the banner at PROCESSIONS London 2018.
Refreshments will be provided.
Spaces are limited, and allocated on a first come first serve basis.
At #WOWLDN Festival 2018
There were quite a few disabled women at the Women of the World London Festival 2018, some of whom were connected to Sisters of Frida.
Here is Nidhi Goyal’s keynote speech at the Power & Protest: Art, Activism and Disability panel for Sisters of Frida
subtitles/captions to follow soon
here are the photos of the event from the Sisters of Frida’s Flickr account
WOW Festival Sisters of Frida Panel: Power & Protest: Art, Activism and Disability Sunday 11th March, 11.30am â 12.30pm
Power & Protest: Art, Activism and Disability
Blue Bar, Level 4, Royal Festival Hall Sunday 11th March 11.30am â 12.30pm
From leadership on human rights to artwork informed by the politics of disability, disabled women are at the forefront of global grassroots activism. Come hear why any campaign for gender equality must include disabled womenâs voices.
Key note speaker – Nidhi Goyal – Comedian and activist working on diability and gender rights. Nidhi is the founder and director of âRising Flameâ a Mumbai based NGO working for disabled women and youth and is also the Sexuality and Disability Program Director at Mumbai-based non-profit Point of View. Appointed to the prestigious civil society advisory group of UN womenâs Executive Director, she sits on the advisory board of âVoiceâ and on the board of AWID (Assoc. for Womenâs Rights in Development).
Michelle Baharier is chairing this panel .
Alumni/Fellow of the Slade School of Fine Art and winner of the Julian Sullivan award, graduate of the School of Social Entrepreneurs and the University of the Arts.
She is a practicing visual/ performance Artist working with communities to make collective art works, exhibitions, public pieces and performance.
Nabihah Islam is a published poet and has worked alongside various theatres. Her short play, ‘Home is where the heart is‘ was performed at Theatre Deli and she recently brought the British Council’s Hijabi Monologues to the Bush Theatre. She is a British Council Fellow and worked alongside the Council of Europe as a human rights activist addressing gender violence in South Asian communities and advocating for gender rights.Â She co-founded two development organisations, both are recognised by the British Council as emerging organisations. Nabihah is completing her Masters in Creative Writing at Brasenose College, Oxford.
Lucy Sheenis an actor, published writer, transracial adoptee and advocate for British East Asian artists and adoptee rights. Her play Under A Blood Red Moon was recently one of eight plays written by British East Asian playwrights to have been published by Oberon Books and the first anthology ever to be published in the UK of British East Asian Playwrights.
In 2015 she was one for four BAME writer|performers who presented work created under the RePlay bursary who performed an extract of about 20mins as part of Poetry International 2015.
Jess Thom is a writer, performer and activist who co-founded Touretteshero in 2010 as a creative response to her experiences of life with Tourettes Syndrome. She has performed nationally and internationally, written a book, Welcome to Biscuit Land, and worked with museums, galleries and theatres to host large scale events for disabled and non-disabled children and young people
The Government has to tell the United Nations about womenâs rights in the UK.
We are collecting experiences from women across England to give to the United Nations. They will use these when they question the UK Government.
We want to be sure that disabled women are included. This report will reinforced what DDPOs wrote to the UNCPRD committee in last yearâs examination in Geneva. But we will focus more on disabled women and girlsâ issues.
Please tell us:
What the problems are, in your own words â we are interested in your personal experiences
Links to any evidence (research reports if you have them)
what the government has/has not done since the last time it reported in 2013, and
your recommendations for what needs to be done.
NB we are reporting on the period from 2013 to date.
We can only give a very short report to the United Nations – only 6,600 words!
We are interested in any information you can give us. Some of the areas that the UN will look at include:
Trafficking and ProstitutionÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Healthcare â how the NHS supports accessibility of healthcare for disabled women
Political and Public Life â whether disabled women are properly represented
Economic and Social Benefits Â – social security payments, universal credit, PIP etc
Rural Women â the special needs of women outside towns and cities including public transport, slow wifi speeds and access to disability services
Nationality Â – special needs of disabled migrant women
Equality Before the Law â are disabled women equal?
Education â access to schools, colleges and university for disabled women and girls
Marriage and Family Life â disabled womenâs rights to a family life
Employment â access to good quality work, and support to work (Access to Work)
Violence Against Women and Girls – particular problems for disabled women, for example, domestic violence, or such violence against disabled women
Your evidence will be published unless you tell us otherwise.
Let us know if you want:
â EITHER your evidence to be completely confidential, OR
â to be shared with the Equality and Human Rights Commission only.
The deadline for evidence and information is 28 February 2018. Send your evidence to: email@example.com
The project will give participants opportunities to:
develop facilitation, presentation and research skills
gain and share knowledge in an area of interest
put this knowledge into practice
meet and work with new people
The project will be split into two parts. The first part will consist of three sessions aimed at building facilitation skills and confidence for the participants. We will then go on to design a number of further sessions tailored specifically to the needs of individuals within the group. Each will have a mentor who will support in gaining skills in the area of work interested. This could include building campaigns, arts and self-expression, challenging interpersonal violence â the possibilities are endless!
The facilitators for these sessions are:
Lani Parker has worked on disability issues in various capacities including taking part in many campaigns, facilitating training, and working within disabled peopleâs organisations in the areas of advice, information and advocacy. She has a particular passion for doing the work of connecting social justice issues. Lani is involved in a number of disabled peopleâs groups and has taken part in many actions. She was co-facilitator for the Sisters of Fridaâs Disability Sexuality workshop last year.
Nim Ralph has over 10 yearsâ experience as a trainer and facilitator, with specialisms in equalities and diversity work/anti-oppression and campaigning. They are Lead Trainer at Campaign Bootcamp and have facilitated for a wide range of groups and organisations ranging from the Girl Guides to Transgender Europe. Nim worked for Drake Music for the last 3 years, which focuses on Disability, music and technology.
Michelle Daley started working for a grassroots organisation called Action and Rights of Disabled People in London Borough of Newham as a Disability Rights Advocate. She progressed onto developing and coordinating local independent living services. While working for this organisation, she learned about the disabled peopleâs movement as well as the political aspects. This experience provided her with the springboard to further my career. She was offered positions with some of the most prominent organisations within the disability movement which allowed her to be part of influencing policy at a national level. Michelle is an experienced trainer and facilitator.
Eleanor Lisney (mentor Stacy Smith) is looking to improve knowledge on domestic violence and (disabled) women. She is grateful that Stacy Smith from the Her Centre, Greenwich, has agreed to mentor her.
Some of the activities from the Her Centre can be seen from the Director Stacy’s and Voluntary Worker Claire Platt ‘s interview by Greenwich Television where they discussed about Her Centre’s services.
Eleanor also went to the Huggett Centre at Barking and Dagenham to discuss the possibility of setting up a network of disabled women working against domestic abuse and services for them.
Michelle Baharier (mentor Rachel Ara) is Alumni/Fellow of the Slade School of Fine Art and winner of the Julian Sullivan award, graduate of the School of Social Entrepreneurs and the University of the Arts.
She is a practicing visual/ performance Artist working with communities to make collective art works, exhibitions, public pieces and performance.
Michelle has a Youtube video about their involvement in the project.
Nancy Mukoro (mentor Zita Holbourne) is interested in disability rights in the work place. She is also interested in campaigning and the role of trade unions.
Photo Esther Leighton
Sorena Francis (mentors Amanda Stuart-Fisher and Dr Michelle Yaa Asantewa ) is interested in the processes involved when disabled artists create performance art with disabled and non-disabled performers, for disabled and non-disabled audiences. As her disability is acquired, this project also intends to engender confidence and insight into the work of being a disabled artist practitioner. Sorena wishes to also explore the ways in which performance art can be used as an agent for change and desires to create work that interrogate themes such as disability, dis/ableism, identity and protest.
The Kolibri or Hummingbird is a symbol for accomplishing that which seems impossible. For the native Americans, the bird is a symbol of rebirth, and of resurrection. It brings special messages for us, in its capacity of going in any direction; the only creature that can stop while traveling at full speed and the only bird that can fly backwards as well as forwards, up and down.
Frida had a special connection with this bird. She painted her eyebrows in the arc of the wings of the hummingbird, perhaps identifying herself with the extraordinary life skills of this colourful, tiny and vulnerable bird with the heart of an eagle. The logo is set in a stamp which fits the idea of the kolibriÂ being a messengerâŚÂ
Why Sisters of Frida?
We took a long time deliberating on a name. We are disabled women but that is not our only identity â we are also embracing the whole package of being women and disabled. And we believe strongly in the social model of disability. We want to celebrate the difference of being of different ethnic origins, different cultures and nationalities, of different sexual orientation, of being mums, having partners and being single women. We are creative and our creativeness is born from our identities â of the very pain of being impaired and disabled at times. But we are not victims.
Hence we found a role model in Frida Kahlo. She is not one immediately associated with disability and yet her art was filled with images of the crippled body. She was also an activist and she wanted a life full of love, of relationships. In her art we also glimpse the dark landscape of her mental health in the aftermath of still births and in her stormy relationship with Diego Riveria.
We can strive to live our lives as full as she did