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e zine “We are Sisters of Frida” (5)

Can You Help Shape the Future of Sisters of Frida?

We need a new steering group to decide where we go next

Sisters of Frida is unique. We are the only collective of disabled women and non-binary people in the country. We create a space for disabled women and non-binary people that DDPOs don’t provide – in fact, nowhere else provides it.

Sisters of Frida formed from a need for disabled women to have a voice within the wider women’s and disabled people’s movements. We are led by ideals and strong principles.

We build community, a space where we want to lift ourselves and each other up, to centre us in thought and action, to celebrate ourselves with pride, to amplify our voices, to share our skills, to challenge power and privilege, and to pursue avenues of change for disabled women and non-binary people. We are a diverse movement committed to an intersectional approach to our work and collective liberation. We’ve impacted national and international conversations about disabled women within both the feminist and disability rights movements. We are committed to radical politics and cross-movement solidarity work.

Like many communities and organisations, the pandemic (and life, more generally) has stretched the capacity of the current directors to its limit. But more importantly, movements can’t flourish without change and evolution. Sisters of Frida needs new energies, directions, ideas, drive, and most importantly, people.

Our new steering group will decide where we go next. We want you to be a part of it.

Previous priority areas have included combating violence against disabled women and girls, and disability and sexuality. Most recently, we’ve conducted research on the impact of the pandemic on disabled women and gender non-conforming people. In all these areas, we’ve shaped conversations nationally and internationally to centre the rights and experiences of disabled women and non-binary people. We’ve often been one of the very few groups speaking from and for these perspectives.

Our future priorities will be up to you.

We’re proud of what we’ve achieved, but we know there are voices that have been missing from the conversations we’ve been part of that we haven’t been able to represent. Similarly, we as a community have mutually built and shared skills and knowledge necessary to sustain our efforts but we’ve also learnt that there are other strengths needed to take Sisters of Frida even further.

We are looking for up to 8 people to form Sisters of Frida’s new steering group, to decide our next directions and develop our new organisational strategy. We’re looking to ensure Sisters of Frida can continue and is sustainable.

To do that, we need people with a diverse array of experience, formal or informal, including around fundraising, finance, strategic planning and organisational development.

If you think you can help shape the future of Sisters of Frida we’d love to hear from you.

To find out more about applying to be part of our new steering group, you can find our application documents linked below. They’re available in plain text and easy read format.

What can you expect from the Application process?

  • We will close submissions at 5:00pm on 3rd March 2024.
  • If you have any questions at any point in the application process, you can get in contact via
  • Responses from one of our part-time workers will come as soon as possible, on Wednesdays and Fridays.
  • After submissions are closed, we will be in contact shortly afterwards to arrange access for interviews.

More information and to apply

Background to Sisters of Frida

Steering group call out

Application information

Art piece by Eleanor Parkes

a white lace piece, of an insect
a white lace piece, of an insect
a white lace piece, selfie
a white lace piece, selfie

She can be found on Instagram @e.j.parkes

With gratitude for sharing with us

Article by Simone Aspis

I will just begin by introducing myself before setting out my position on Heidi Crowter’s court case, the legal challenge to the Abortion Act on disability discrimination and human rights grounds. Heidi Crowter is currently applying to have her case heard by the European Court of Human Rights after the Supreme Court have refused permission to appeal during May 2023.

I am firstly a disabled feminist who identifies herself as a member of the LBGTQAI+ community. And yes I am Jewish and Yes I am a paid up member of a progressive synagogue and Queer Yeshiva. Nope I am not a pro-lifer or anti-abortion either. I have spent the past 25 years fighting for disabled peoples’ rights across a whole range of issues, anti-disability discrimination, human rights, inclusive education, independent living and medical ethics at the beginning and end of life whilst working for various disabled peoples led organisations and campaigns. I have also been involved in developing the BCODP’s bioethics training pack as well. If you would like to know more about myself click

Whilst I no longer support Heidi herself because disability equality has been used to peddle anti-abortion agenda, nevertheless the principle of promoting non-disability discrimination or more broadly non-trait discrimination throughout reproductive decision making is one that needs further debate, and it should not be simply argued away by a woman’s pro-choice rights to abortion. Heidi’s court case raises a bigger question, which is to what extent is it a pregnant woman’s right to choose the traits of her child to be born.

For me there are two very distinct questions that arises from Heidi Crowter’s court case.

The first one is, should a woman have a right to an abortion if she/they do not want children per sue for whatever reason? My answer is a definite Yes.

My second question is, do individual women have the right to decide the human traits of a future child to be born? My answer is No.

Human traits selection of a future child covers disability, race, sex and other traits viewed generally as being desirable or undesirable by our society. Male, white and non-disabled are valued traits of children society generally values. On the other hand female, colour and disabled are not valued traits of children society generally values.

I do not think it should be for pregnant women to make the decisions about the type of future child they want to give birth to. Such decisions have an impact upon the future of our society and the constitution and diversity of any subsequent populations.

States have tried to strengthen the position of women that includes access to education alongside providing financial incentives to positively encourage women to give births to female children who otherwise would had been aborted. In the global South, states have offered financial inducements to encourage the birth of more female babies as they are considered as a drain on family finances. Whilst, feminists have contested the status of girls and religious traditions (including financial customs), such challenges are insufficient to deal with the in-trenched view of women within patriarchal societies that
continue to favour males. One of the unintended consequences is that individual women who decide to give birth to a male baby, think through what would be best for themselves and their individual family unit. I do not expect individual women to consider the cumulative impact of individual women making similar decisions elsewhere in choosing the sex of their child. I have the expectation that the state may well need to intervene to ensure that there is a sufficient diversity reflected within our population. So, the state does have a role in ensuring there is no skewing of male births by making sex-selection abortion unlawful with the aim of maintaining appropriate sex ratios that allows for population replacement and growth. Whatever reproductive technologies are used, there is no getting away from the need to have both male and female births to ensure that the human population exists.

So where does this leave disability because one can argue that there is no need to have disabled people, like you need women and men to guarantee the continuation of the humankind. Not only do we need a society to reflect biological sex diversity, but also one that encompasses individuals with a diversity of human traits including those with physical, sensory and intellectual abilities. After all, we need a population consisting of individuals with a whole range of human traits to have a functioning society. Society is not going to function if we do not have those with all sorts of traits that encourages caring,
artistry, paying attention to detail when it comes to health and safety alongside the accountants, lawyers and all the other roles that are needed and where some of those human traits are commonly (not exclusively) associated with a disability diagnosis.

Despite disabled people having all sorts of human traits needed to create a healthy diverse society, we know there is a very high rate of disability-related abortions because women are too aware of the disablist environment that makes bringing up disabled children a big challenge when there is minimal support systems in place and where everything is deemed to be a struggle. Even if we have all the incentives and a brilliant inclusive systems in place I do not believe that alone would encourage the birth of disabled babies. Just like with the incentives for raising female birth rates, such incentives do not
necessarily encourage women to raise and give birth to disabled babies. Just like with women who opt for sex-selection abortion, they are thinking what is best for themselves and their families. Like with sex selection I do not expect women to consider the cumulative impact of individual women who are making the same decision to terminate disabled babies. So, if we accept individual women’s right to select the human traits of their child is a private matter, then that removes society’s response to our population skewing towards a future without disabled children such as Downs Syndrome or Autism with associated types of human traits. If we view that abortion is simply a woman’s right and nothing else, then we move eugenics from the public to the private sphere that goes beyond public debate and state intervention to ensure we have diverse future population. A population reflecting individuals with diversity of human traits would require state intervention, hence making human trait selection abortion unlawful. If I remember rightly, one of the arguments used by the Conservative Party for not needing anti-disability discrimination laws back in the early 1990s is that we can rely on education, persuasion and good will to ensure disabled peoples inclusion is promoted, even during the time when services were better funded than they are currently. It took the introduction of anti-discrimination legislation, the Disability Discrimination Act, now the Equality Act to bring about change that viewing disabled people and disability equality as a rights based issue.

My position is supported by the UN Convention Rights Of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD and Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) committees that do not support human trait selection abortion, in this case sex and disability.

There are a number of ethical questions that we need to debate by disabled women.

  • What type of society do we want to live in?
  • Who should decide on the type of society we will have, which will impact upon the present and future populations.
  • Should any section of our population become sole decision makers about the kind of future society? I.E. Pregnant women in this case?

By Simone Aspis (Changing Perspectives)


A wheat pillow. Chocolate. A cuddly toy. Jewellery. Homemade dinner. Artwork. Clothes. Books. Mugs.

These are some of the material gifts I have received from other disabled people over the past few years. Having pre-made dinner ready to go when you don’t feel well is brilliant, and wearing clothes and jewellery from someone you might not have been able to see in a while feels like being closer to them, somehow.

Good jokes. Bad jokes. Listening. Laughing. Sitting silently side by side. Heckling politicians side by side. Motivation. Backup. Interesting challenges. Opportunities. Protection. Genuine caring. Harsh truths. Acceptance. Understanding. The quest for knowledge, and the relay between those who know and those who need to know. Pockets of peace.

These are some of the non-material gifts I have received from other disabled people over the past few years. These are more important. Knowing that you won’t be ridiculed or punished for who you are allows you to figure it out, if you’ve not had that opportunity. Joining in the fight for legal rights to be upheld and extended is much easier when you’re not fighting alone.

Last year, I had a health issue which required use of a new device for a few weeks. I didn’t have much knowledge, and it had been attached to my body in a way that did not work. Another disabled person sent me a video of how it should work and what they thought had happened. I was sleep-deprived, in pain, feeling awful, and not able to concentrate. They explained everything step by step, patiently, in clear language with a calm and caring voice, without judgement or shame for me not knowing something so simple. It felt like a hug. If I could download how to do that into the brains of every NHS professional, it’d be wonderful. It’s easier to get used to something new when someone with lived experience can talk you through.

A friend made me cry last night. We don’t speak often, as one or the other of us might have a last-minute disaster or just not have the energy. WhatsApp and Messenger just have to do in between. We laughed about recent news, and talked about something personal. She remembered the context that I’d told her a long time before, and spoke of it in a caring tone. To hear something understood and cared about that I’ve had to defend against people who don’t believe it was wonderful.

These things are more valuable, and I treasure these memories.

Take care of each other. You will be treasured.

by Anonymous

Social meetings after lockdown

Sisters of Frida had 2 social meetings this year. We will be having 2 more next year. The meetings are generally to meet as disabled women in London, about SOF, and for us to get to know each other. Please send an email to to register an interest.

Photo below of the first meeting in North Greenwich

Group of women around a table, some in wheelchairs
supported by Mayor of London logo

A Tribute to Lisa Ellwood

head shot of a woman of colour. She has black curly hair and eye make up on.
Photograph of Lisa

Lisa passed away on May 11, 2023. She was only 57. I was shocked and saddened by the news. Though we had never physically met, we had many long conversations on the phone. I was hoping to meet her one day in Edinburgh when she moved there from rural Wales. She gave me encouragement and solidarity on being a disabled woman of colour and gave me lessons on intersectionality. She told me of the discrimination she faced from some disabled people here not because she was a Native American but because she was also autistic, with mental health issues and not afraid to speak out about suicide or domestic violence. She inspired me with her passion for disability rights and taught me to embrace my different identities. She was strong – a feminist warrior – in spite of being hampered by her disability and impairments.

She was also a strong supporter of Sisters of Frida and was in the Steering Group for a short while. She helped in getting news about us at the UN CRPD and CEDAW in Geneva. She believed strongly in having a voice/platform for disabled women and helped us in every capacity. This is her profile in LinkedIn:

A strong communicator with a distinctive voice, Lisa J. Ellwood is an Autistic Lenape and Nanticoke Native American currently resident in the UK.

Ms. Ellwood is a Freelance Journalist & Writer and an active member of the Native American Journalists Association, Investigative Reporters & Editors, Society of Professional Journalists, and the National Union of Journalists (UK). She has a B.A. Degree from Temple University with a major in Journalism and Advertising and minors in Marketing & French. Her specializations include Data Journalism & Visualization, NDN Country, Disability Rights, Mental Illness and Autism.

Lisa’s Disability Rights & UK Politics blog, The Creative Crip, has been featured in Society Guardian many times. She was a freelance Correspondent for Indian Country Today Media Network from September 2015 until its hiatus from active operations September 2017 as well as a Contributing Editor and Features Writer for The Promota Africa Magazine. In September 2011 the Left Foot Forward Political Blog cited her effective use of social media and blogging in its “Nomination for most influential left-wing thinker: The disabled rights community”​ feature. She has also been interviewed for Grazia Magazine (Australia) & appeared on radio shows internationally including Native Trailblazers.

We miss her.

Here are tributes from her colleagues:

written by Eleanor Lisney

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.

You can join using this Zoom link


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.

East Asian woman with long hair and glasses. She is smiling

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, 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 the current Chairperson of Association of Women with Disabilities in Hong Kong.

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

12:00 (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?

14:30 End

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.

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 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