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.
Event We Are Sisters of Frida Saturday 25th September 12 noon – Join us!
It’s been sometime since we have had meetings – since the lockdown but as disabled people, we are still not confident about having face to face meetings and travelling on public transport.
At Sisters of Frida we decided to have a zoom meeting on Saturday 25th September at noon. It will be an event with a stimulating roundtable discussion with our international disabled sisters from around the world and then breakout sessions among you to discuss where you think SOF should be heading.
Virginia Ossana is disability and gender justice advocate. She is originally from Argentina and is currently based in Warwickshire, UK.
She works as a Communications and Programs Advisor at Women Enabled International, where she participates on a variety of projects to advance the rights of women and marginalized genders with disabilities around the world.
Carmen Yau won Spirit of Hong Kong in 2013 and few more awards afterwards as a recognition of her work for disabled people and the community. Carmen devotes herself to enhance social and workplace inclusion for disabled people by providing seminars and corporate training on disability confidence.
As a registered social worker, Carmenâs work varied from workplace inclusion to sexuality and LGBTQ disabled community. Besides lobbying more job opportunities for disabled people, Carmen is dedicated to enhancing professional development and leadership of disabled people. Carmen is the current Chairperson of Association of Women with Disabilities in Hong Kong.
Mali Hermans is a young Wiradjuri writer, organiser and community worker living on Ngunnawal and Ngambri land in Canberra, Australia. As a disabled woman, Mali is deeply invested in disability justice work, committed to challenging ableism and its intersections with colonialism, white supremacy, patriarchy and class. She has organising experience within grassroots community groups, feminist spaces and the union movement. Mali is a current Policy and Projects Officer at Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA), having previously worked in gender-based violence prevention.
From the Sisters of Frida team
Rachel OâBrien 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.
She is a director and a member of the SOF Steering Group.
Eleanor Lisney is a campaigner, founder member, public speaker. She is a director and a member of the SOF Steering Group.
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.
Agenda for the event
12:00 (noon) Start with introduction to Sisters of Frida and speakers
12:05 Roundtable with guest speakers
12:25 Discussion and questions for panel
12:35 Questions from participants
12:40 Conclusions and thank you to guest speakers
12:45 Break (15 minutes)
13:00 Breakout rooms
What struck you about the roundtable discussion?
How does this connect with your involvement (current or future) with Sisters of Frida?
13:45 Comfort break (15 minutes)
14:00 Feedback and what next?
BSL interpreters from Signalise and live captioning will be available.
Music in the interval from Miss Jacqui with thanks for permission.
Thank you to Campaign Bootcamp who generously provided funding that allowed us to make this event accessible.
Sisters of Frida wants you to get involved! SoF has been working to build our capacity by working to make our processes more transparent and to help streamlined so build up disabled womenâs voices in all our magnificence. In order to do this we need to expand our steering group. Would you like to help steer the direction of Sisters of Frida? You will meet new people, learn and share new skill. If so, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you more information.
The steering group is not the only way you can get involved. You can now join working groups and work on specific projects. If you are interested please get in touch at email@example.com
For International Women’s Month: Disabled Women’s digital quilt
This is a pilot project which was filmed / videoed pre pandemic in 2019 first presented by Culture Access at the Disabled and Proud Festival in Woolwich showcasing disability art and culture – a project in progress.
Building on the strong history of women’s activism, disabled women took taking photos of themselves/ or with help using smart phones to (re)create identities of themselves with selfies. Natasha Hirst took part and documented the women’s process and we created self-explanatory videos relating to their identities â as artists, as trade unionists, as activists, activists and journalists etc.
This is also a creative process that is inspired by Frida Kahlo’s work in her portrayal of impairment in identity.
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.
The Impact of COVID 19 on Disabled Women from Sisters of Frida
Voices of Disabled women in the pandemic
About this paper
This paper started as a brief but we sent the first version in response to the Women and Equalities Unequal impact: Coronavirus (Covid-19) and the impact on people with protected characteristics. We know that the experiences of Disabled women are not visible in the wider response to COVID-19.
The need to add the narratives focused on Disabled women is the reason for this paper. We feel that the narrative about Disabled women, when available, is very one dimensional. There is no consideration that Disabled women occupy multiple roles, we are diverse and any considerations have to be viewed through an intersectional lens. We are strongly aware that new measures under the Coronavirus COVID-19 2020 Act threaten rights-based protections and reduce our independent living and in some cases our lives.
We were asked to join a coalition of womenâs organisations[ calling on the government to take on certain actions, and to contribute evidence from the perspectives from disabled women under the impact of COVID-19. We put out a call for evidence, asking disabled women to share their experiences of COVID-19 and its specific impact for intersecting identities. We want to ensure the voices of Disabled women are visible as they are often omitted as examples of multiple protected characteristics.
working with Inclusion London and ROFA (Reclaiming
Our Future Alliance) on the rights of disabled people under the Care Act 2014
where these are being eroded, the urgency of access to food and services for
disabled people, and access to PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for their
Personal Assistants (PAs) and themselves.
womenâs needs under COVID-19 measures are no less significant than those of the
rest of the disabled community, but disabled women face specific issues.
We are looking in particular at those issues that are impacting rights at the intersection of gender and disability during this crisis.
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.
Invite to Sisters of Frida’s celebration May 4th 5.30pm Greenwich Yacht Club
I N V I T A T I O N
Please come to our celebrations
4th May 2018 from 5.30 pm
Greenwich Yacht Club
1 Peartree Way, Greenwich, London SE10 0BW
(nearest tube station North Greenwich, Jubilee Line, accessible venue. Please let us know other access needs)