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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.

link at https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwtf-CpqDwqGNKIHhkYF_TUqTidndUoia2g

Speakers

Pale skinned woman with long wavy hair

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 Yao 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, Carmen’s 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 currently working at Greenwich University.

pale skinned woman with glasses and arms akimbo

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

white blonde woman with hoop earrings

Rachel O’Brien is the Independent Living Campaigns Officer at Inclusion London after working at the National Union of Students as the Disabled Students’ 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.

East Asian woman with clipped hair and glasses

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 noon Start with introduction to Sisters of Frida and speakers

12.05 Roundtable with guest speakers

12.25 pm discussion and questions for panel

12.35 questions from participants

12.40 conclusions and thank you to guest speakers

12. 45 Break

13.00 Breakout rooms

questions

  1. what struck you about the roundtable discussion?
  2. how does this connect with your involvement (current or future) with Sisters of Frida?

13.45 comfort break

14.00 feedback and what next?

14.30 End

BSL interpreters from Signalise and live captioning will be available.

Music in the interval from Miss Jacqui with thanks for permission.

Useful information

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 women’s 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  sisofrida@gmail.com 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 sisofrida@gmail.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 – 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.

Pilot project by Natasha Hirst and Eleanor Lisney .

16 days of activism: Million Women Rise Vigil

We thank EVAW and Million Women Rise for adding us to the “Never Forgotten Vigil.”

Let us not forget. In #solidarity

See also the Safe Lives report on Disabled people and domestic abuse

Sister Stories: Sisters of Frida submission call-out

We’re 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 women’s voices.


We want to showcase work by writers and artists living with chronic illness, mental illness, and disability. Your work doesn’t need to be about those experiences exclusively, but we welcome and encourage submissions along those lines.

We’re 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:

“At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.” – Frida Kahlo

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lorde

“Hard things are put in our way, not to stop us, but to call out our courage and strength.” – Unknown



If you’d like to contribute: 
  • Send all submissions with the subject SISTER STORIES: *TITLE OF PIECE* to sisofrida@gmail.com
  • Please include a short third-person bio and your pronouns, but if you’d like to remain anonymous, that’s 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 calendar’s 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 you’re creating. Just email sisofrida@gmail.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.

Sister Stories
Sister Stories
youngish looking white woman with long hair smiling into the camera
Jennifer Brough @Jennifer_Brough

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 commu
nity.

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.[2]

We were asked to join a coalition of women’s 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.

We are 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.

Disabled women’s 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.

Please access the paper in (PDF) and/or in Word

37 seconds: A review of the realest film you will see this year

This is a perspective instigated by the current (2020) Japanese film, 37 Seconds, written by a young disabled woman. She wishes to remain anonymous. F writes about similar parallels in her life as a young disabled woman.

In 37 Seconds, 23-year-old comic book artist Yuma, physically disabled due to profound cerebral palsy and emotionally stunted by her well-meaning but overly protective mother, forges her own unusual path to sexual awakening and independence while at the same time discovering love and forgiveness.
summary from Rotten Tomatoes

Yuma, a wheelchair user with a pink dress and a flower in her long hair, smiles at 2 people in sequinned dresses.
from Berlinist Film Week 37 Seconds Description of Yuma, a wheelchair user with a pink dress and flower in her long hair, smiling at 2 people in sequinned dresses. they are on a street.

Warning: some nudity and sex scenes in the film, which is available on Netflix.

Netflix has a new hit film that it’s not even advertising. I’d ask them to, as it’s the film we all need right now.

37 seconds follows the journey of 23-year-old Yuma, a wheelchair user who has cerebral palsy, lives with her mother, and has a job as a manga artist. Recurring themes of rejection, stigma, control, and other ableist nonsense are explored and removed, leaving Yuma free to live her own life.

This offers a starting point for a conversation that hasn’t yet been had: To what extent do young disabled people feel safe? How can we do more to support them?

*** SPOILERS HERE ***

From the very beginning, we are shown exactly how much control over her own life Yuma is allowed to have, and how others do not see her for who she is.

Her mother treats her like a child, or less than a child. She shows little respect for physical boundaries or privacy, doesn’t let Yuma freely choose her clothes, and doesn’t show any interest in Yuma’s thoughts and feelings. Her boss casually steals some of Yuma’s pay and lies to her about it, and then carries on taking credit for her work.

Almost every scene adds another layer of defeat for Yuma. Seeking recognition for her talents, she sends some of her work to a publisher, who tells her it’s too similar to the work of her boss. Similar? It’s the same – the work he’s comparing it to is her own.

So she starts to push harder to find her own job where she will be respected. An editor of an adult magazine refuses to hire her until she has experience of what she’s drawing.

Online dating is the first step on the path to her new job, and a faulty lift leads her to new friends, new clothes, drunken partying and falling asleep in the car on the way home.

This is behaviour typical of a 20-something year old, and most parents would shrug, tut, and discuss safe behaviour choices.

Yuma’s mother is not most parents. She’s spent years protecting Yuma from everything, giving up her time to do the things that she’s certain Yuma can’t do without her (though she never gives Yuma the chance to try). Then suddenly, she finds everything: the practice sketches for the adult magazine, beautiful dresses, and a plastic penis.

Yuma arrives home very drunk, having refused her friend Toshi’s offer to make sure she gets home safely. She sneaks in, closing the door almost silently behind her, and quietly heads to her bedroom, where her mother sits waiting.

The second she refused Toshi’s accompanying her, I felt afraid for Yuma. Her mother’s level of control had been so high for so long, and yet futile. Yuma and her mother’s relationship had been set in stone, then shattered. Instead of waiting until the morning to talk it out, Yuma’s mother starts to shout. And then turns to physical violence. And then neglect. At every stage, Yuma is trying to assert the truth, and at every stage her mother rejects it.

The next morning, her mother has taken her phone, and places a lock on the door. She’s a prisoner in her own home, with no way to call out for help.

We don’t know how long this goes on for. The next scene is Yuma at a physiotherapy session. Asking to use the toilet, Yuma rushes out of the building and out of her mother’s control. It’s notable that Yuma didn’t feel that she could ask the physiotherapist for help.

She stays with Toshi. She quits her job. She meets her uncle for the first time, and then travels with Toshi to meet her twin sister she never knew existed. Her sister revealed that she’d always known about Yuma, and had been afraid to contact her because she’d been told she was disabled.

It’s not explained why their father left. But learning the whole truth – another layer of rejection – prompts Yuma’s self-acceptance at last. She feels glad that she was the second born twin, who didn’t breathe for 37 seconds. As I understand it, she feels it’s better to have been hurt by the actions of others than to have caused pain to others by your own actions.

It’s a cleverly written film. Viewers are given just enough of the other side to see that the social stigma surrounding Yuma’s sister was her only source of information, and that this had kept them apart. We saw that Yuma’s mother, who is never identified by name, had had a daughter taken from her, and the idea of Yuma being taken away by the world was too much.

But that doesn’t excuse her behaviour. Her pleas to the police officer to find her daughter who can’t yell for help sound hollow given her earlier choice to lock Yuma in the house alone.

Her mother chose to ignore that her daughter was an adult. She failed to support her to grow into the young adult she wanted to be. She failed to listen. She chose to react with violence. She chose to lock her in. That’s not OK. That’s very not OK!

What’s more not OK is that this film is only fictional in the specifics. The ingredients are factual.

I whispered “Go, go, go!” as Yuma left the physio clinic. But where was she going? Her Plan A had been to check into a hotel, and had she stuck with that plan, I’d have been worried what would happen when the money ran out. Instead, the perfect solution appeared: Toshi.

This is where the reality of the film breaks down for me. How many disabled teens and young adults know an accessible safe place away from their parents with someone who understands and respects them and has a wheelchair accessible vehicle to get them there? And who can accompany them to another country (somehow without her passport) just like that?

In the real world, that doesn’t happen. Someone in Yuma’s position would have very few options of where to go; very few options of how to get there; and have very few people who could be there during that time.

For young adults who do have support needs, it’s harder. Questions like: “Where would I go?” become “Who can I trust to move me, give me my meds, and assist me to get washed and dressed? How can I get my medical equipment?”

Yes, social services solve these problems every day. They meet these young people and do the best they can. And that’s fine, if you trust them. But when every doctor, nurse, social worker, OT, TA, teacher and other grown-up has treated you like a mascot, or pet, or simply not as a person, are you going to trust a stranger with your future? When you have a parent who keeps telling you that others are incompetent, and then the professionals reinforce that by failing to act professionally; are you going to trust them? When you’re told that many children with your condition are given up for adoption, and you’re lucky, and if you say the wrong thing you’ll be take away and put in The System; you’re going to feel ungrateful and ashamed.

Yes, I cried at 37 seconds, because I understood some of how Yuma felt. I remembered some of how Yuma felt. No, I don’t have a twin sister, or any skill at drawing. But I remember what it was like to live in a situation that made me feel very afraid; afraid to speak up, afraid to do anything that might be frowned upon, afraid to be anything other than what they wanted, which wasn’t who I was.

That was a long time ago now. I grew up, and I left home, and I started to find my own self. I discovered new talents. I discovered what music I really like. I discovered that actually people seem to like me. I discovered that if I speak to the right person at the right time in the right way, I will be listened to. I discovered it’s OK to not agree with people and to make up your own mind.

I forget these things sometimes, start to revert to old habits which protected me. Good friends remind me that I don’t need to do that anymore. They encourage me to be the me that I want to be, and nothing else. For the most part, they themselves have experienced rejection or control in one form or another – they understand things I’ve never told them.

I know so many Yumas. They’re easy to spot, if you know the signs.

People wearing clothes that don’t reflect their personality – bought and chosen by someone else.

People not asking or asking hesitantly for the things they need, even from paid PAs or Care Assistants – afraid of the consequences of being annoying or too much of a burden.

People who never have any money, but don’t know whether they’re accessing the right benefits – the paperwork is handled by someone who doesn’t involve them.

People dismissing their own medical issues as “It just does that”; “It’s because I didn’t try hard enough to… (reason that makes no sense)”; “I’m just getting lazy” – someone else has told them that a new symptom isn’t important, or is made up, or is somehow their fault.

People not sharing ideas or joining in with what’s going on around them and which interest them – waiting to be given permission.

People avoiding eye contact and not talking for themselves, and then suddenly saying a thousand words with a look when the person with them moves away for a moment – there’s something that they want to say, but can’t.

The solutions are simple. Support the kids, and support the parents. Let the kids have space to grow, and make friends, and join in with what’s fun for them. Let parents have space to be themselves outside of the parenting role. Give them the knowledge they need to understand how to support their kids to develop into adults. Give kids the knowledge to understand how other’s view of disability is not the only way, and to find their own way.

To anyone reading this right now who has lived or is living any part of Yuma’s story, I’d offer the following advice:

– Remember you are not them. Their actions do not make you a Bad Person. Your choices are your own.

– Not everyone is like that. There are some kind and friendly and fun and supportive people out there who can be trusted. There are some people who are the opposite. There are some who are middling. Go find the people who find the best in you.

– Find a way to organise your thoughts and express yourself. Art, dance, cookery, music, writing. Anything that gives you the chance to be you.

– You don’t have to do this alone. When you feel the time is right, seek support. Maybe from a friend or family member, maybe from an organisation, maybe from a professional; anyone who you feel comfortable with. Ask their support, tell them what you want to happen, and let them go with you as you navigate this, in your own way, in your own time.

– If you see someone who needs some support and you have the time, energy and knowledge, offer your support to them. Even if they say no, they’ll know someone’s there for them.

Yuma’s story is so many people’s story. But it doesn’t have to be.

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 RSA’s 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 RSA’s mission to enrich society through ideas and action.

Rawthmells, the RSA’s 21st century enlightenment coffeehouse, is a place where Fellows and members of the public can encounter new and inspiring ideas.

Address for the RSA House 8 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6EZ.

(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.

Sisters of Frida were awarded a Catalyst Grant by the RSA in 2016 to run a series of workshops which focused on neglected conversations about disabled women and sexuality. Read more in the blog written by co founder Eleanor Lisney

Do drop in to have a look if you are a RSA Fellow and let us know what you think by commenting below or writing to hello@sisofrida.org

https://www.thersa.org/fellowship/coffeehouse/displays

https://www.thersa.org/fellowship/coffeehouse/displays/sisters-of-frida

Group of women, 2 wheelchair users, with a colourful textile banner saying 'Sisters of Frida' Hear the voices

With the SOF Banner outside no 10 downing street for Processions 10th June celebration for women getting the vote (photo with the display)

First photos and some videos from the celebratory event on 4th May

Our celebratory event was a great success – thank you very much for those who did make it and thank you too for those who sent messages / videos because they couldn’t make it.

Sisters of Frida celebatory event 4th May 2018 Greenwich Yacht Club. Filmed by Lucy Fyson and edited by Leonore Schick. Music from TRG Banks – Milton Milton.

photos taken by Wasi Daniju at the event are at the SOF flickr account but to give you an idea….

People seated in a very well lit room with full length windows with tent like white canopies overhead. lots of wooden floor space

At Greenwich Yacht Club photo by Ruth Gardiner, Chocolate Films

Come join us in making a banner for #Processions

headshot of a woman (suffragette) with a cross behind in green and pruple colours

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 – 16:30
Saturday 5th May, 14:00 – 16:30
Saturday 19th May, 14:00 – 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 UK’s largest producer of art in the public realm, as part of 14-18 NOW, the UK’s 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 Artichoke’s 10 banner commissions, as part of PROCESSIONS’ 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, hello@sisofrida.org,  by Friday 20th April to register your place in the workshops.

Find out more and register to attend PROCESSIONS at www.processions.co.uk
Follow the event at @processions2018 / #PROCESSIONS2018

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) http://greenwichweddingvenues.co.uk/ We will be celebrating the work of our peer lead facilitators project And remembering our sisters, Sophie Partridge and Eleanor Firman, in setting up a memorial fund in their names. Please RSVP to hello@sisofrida.org and let us know your access needs. Non alcoholic drinks will be served but there is a bar if you wish to buy your own drinks. Some snacks will be served

 

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)

http://greenwichweddingvenues.co.uk/

We will be celebrating the work of our peer lead facilitators project

And remembering our sisters, Sophie Partridge and Eleanor Firman, in setting up a memorial fund in their names.

Please RSVP to hello@sisofrida.org and let us know your access needs.

There will be BSL interpreters


Non alcoholic drinks will be served but there is a bar if you wish to buy your own drinks. Some snacks will be served