Sisters of Frida at the WOW Festival Sat 7th March, 12-1pm, Royal Festival Hall, South Bank

Standard

A panel (Disability and Feminism) of campaigners will be asking at the WOW Festival whether the resurgence of mainstream feminism ignores the voices of disabled women and discuss what happens when gender, race and disability collide. Speakers include Becky Olaniyi and Michelle Daley of Sisters of Frida. Chaired by Eleanor Lisney.

The Woman of the World Festival is a festival of talks, workshops and performances celebrating women and girls held at the South Bank.

This follows the disabled performance artist and choreographer Claire Cunningham who offers a provocation on the widely held assumption that disability is a negative state in which to exist, and asks whether dance by only non-disabled people is actually… a bit boring?

Please do come and say hello! You do have to get a ticket but there are limited half price concessions for the day available.

wow2015-logo-small_1

Becky Olaniyi: 18 Years In A Wheelchair

Standard

Reblogged from Snatched XO with thanks!

Becky is a Sisters of Frida’s Steering Group member

18 Years In A Wheelchair

cartoon-right-wordsAfter 18 years in a wheelchair, I know what to expect when I’m leaving the house.

I was born with cerebral palsy, a neurological condition caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain in childbirth. It left me with an inability to walk and a low tolerance for stupidity. This is put to the test as soon as I leave my house. People stare at me like a hanging head in a butcher’s window (and then smile. Like I’m some sort of ‘cute’ hanging head.) People ask me if my arms hurt. But the best of them all is when people offer help and then say ‘I’ve done a good deed today’.

I know what you’re thinking.

‘Maybe they think you’re deaf’. That would surely be the only explanation for such stupid behaviour.

You’re wrong. They don’t. This is a common occurrence. And it’s only the tip of the fully accessible disability iceberg.

Imagine if someone came and picked you up and carried you away. Naturally, you’d be incredibly alarmed. So why do I have to smile and nod and politely decline a potential kidnapping every day? I’m ‘rude’ if I refuse the offer of being treated like cargo by a complete stranger, but I’d much rather be rude than dead. And then there’s those people who don’t help at all. I could be sliding backwards down a ramp into a pit of hell and they would focus all of their attention on a passing cloud to avoid – God forbid - eye contact, let alone actually trying to help me. Maybe disability is catching. The awkwardness is palatable when I finally make it onto the bus and have to sit facing all of the people that somehow could not see me when I was wedged between the side of the bus and the edge of the pavement. I can’t decide whether they’re as bad as the people who ask me ‘What is your…er…problem?’ and then pat their legs for emphasis as if I think they’re talking about my glasses.

The bus is truly a disabled person’s paradise. It’s like some sort of government regulated punishment for being disabled, in which you have to battle with a person with a small child for transport. Have you ever seen a showdown between a person with a pram and a person in a wheelchair at a bus stop? Neither have I, because the person with the pram always gets on without a second thought. THAT IS AGAINST THE RULES OF TFL. I don’t say anything, and neither does anyone else. At least I have an excuse. What if they wanted to fight over it? I can’t exactly make a quick escape. As for all the other people, please refer to the ‘don’t help at all’ section above.

I was going out (to the gym, can you imagine) and I got on the bus. The woman who had a pram in the wheelchair space moved it out of the way to make space and I went in and continued minding my business, my default state when wanting to avoid pity talk. Pity talk, for those who don’t know, is what happens when the person sitting facing you in the wheelchair area feels so uncomfortable seeing you alone that they talk to you out of sheer sorrow. Sometimes, they even invite you to their church for a healing seminar. As I get off the bus, the woman moves her pram again to let me out. The man behind her must have assumed she was getting off, and the woman said ‘I’m not getting off, just moving to let the wheelchair off’. I wasn’t aware that I had gone out dressed as an empty chair, but you never know.

People interpret me as either being constantly lost, or as having a learning disability. I hear the words ‘Are you okay? Are you lost? Do you need help?’ at least thrice a day if I leave my house. The answer is always no, as these people seem to only appear when I’m perfectly fine, and disappear as soon as I’m about to push myself uphill. It gets tiresome after nearly 2 decades. A woman came up to me and screamed ‘I SAW YOU LOOKING AT THE MENU EARLIER, DID YOU GET SOMETHING TO EAT?’ Turns out she had been watching me in the restaurant and didn’t say anything, kind of like an inept guardian angel. I still don’t know why she shouted. I’m physically impaired, not hearing impaired. But I’ve learned that most people seem to be tact impaired.

Despite the comical tone of this article, being patronised, pitied, dehumanised and made fun of every day is horrible. Particularly for a young person struggling to find their own identity and be acknowledged as an equal by their peers. This is the reality of life for many disabled people, and it shouldn’t be this way. Next time you come into contact with a disabled person, treat them with respect and consideration. Don’t hound them with your questions comments and concerns, and try not to stare so openly.

Sisters of Frida’s new Steering Group

Standard

After the AGM in January we have a new steering group. We would also like to congratulate Zara Todd for her new role as Chair of Inclusion London.

They are Armineh Soorenian, Becky Olaniyi, Eleanor Firman, Eleanor Lisney, Lani Parker, Maria Zedda, Michelle Daley, Sarah Rennie and Zara Todd.

These are the topics we would be focusing on this year

Intersectionality
Working with young disabled women
Inclusive sex education and reproductive health
Interpersonal violence and building resilience in ourselves
Partnership working with other groups
Educating society about disabled women’s issues
Fundraising – recording experiences of disabled women
Speaking with pride
Older disabled women

 

Joining the Sisters Uncut Valentine Day’s Revolt – Saturday 14th February

Standard

Two Sisters of Frida joined the Sisters Uncut Valentine Day’s Revolt direct action in London on Saturday which started from Green Park Station.

Eleanor holding the Sisters of Frida banner

Eleanor holding the Sisters of Frida banner

 

We marched to Picadilly in the rain where some laid flowers in memory of women who died as a result of domestic violence. ( We were not able to go up the steps to do it.) We also kept a minute silence. The manifesto was also read out

Sisters Uncut Feministo

We are Sisters Uncut. We stand united with all self-defining women who live under the threat of domestic violence, and those who experience violence in their daily lives. We stand against the life-threatening cuts to domestic violence services.We stand against austerity.

In the UK, two women a week on average are killed at the hands of a partner or ex-partner. The cuts make it harder for women to leave dangerous relationships and live safely. Safety is not a privilege. Access to justice cannot become a luxury. Austerity cuts are ideological but cuts to domestic violence services are fatal.

Every woman’s experience is specific to her; as intersectional feminists we understand that a woman’s individual experience of violence is affected by race, class, disability, sexuality and immigration status.

Doors are being slammed on women fleeing violence. Refuges are being shut down, legal aid has been cut, social housing is scarce and private rents are extortionate.

What’s more, local councils are selling out contracts to services who are running them on a shoestring – putting the safety of survivors at risk and deteriorating the working conditions for those who work with abused women.

To those in power, our message is this: your cuts are sexist, your cuts are dangerous, and you think that you can get away with them because you have targeted the people who you perceive as powerless.

We are those people, we are women, and we will not be silenced. We stand united and fight together, and together we will win.

 

Demands

  • No more cuts to domestic violence services
  • Restore funding that has been cut
  • Secure funding for specialist domestic violence services; this should be ring-fenced* at a national level.
  • Local Authorities to fully meet the demands of their communities, recognising that different women have different needs.
  • Guaranteed access to legal aid for women experiencing domestic violence.
  • Provide access to safe and secure social housing for women who otherwise cannot afford to flee.
  • Panic rooms should not be classified as a spare room under the Bedroom Tax.
  • Safety should not be subject to immigration status; extend access to safe housing to women with no recourse to public funds.
At Picadilly, in memoriam for women who died as a result of domestic violence

At Picadilly, in memoriam for women who died as a result of domestic violence

We took off from there to Oxford Circus where we formed a circle and stopped the traffic, blocking buses and taxis on a very busy junction and women were chanting and shouting for sisters who died from domestic violence.

Sisters stopping traffic at Oxford Circus

Sisters stopping traffic at Oxford Circus

It was good to be there. We hope to be able to join them at their meetings and invite them to our events and campaigns in the future.

 

Sisters of Frida 2015 AGM

Standard
Zara, Becky, Eleanor Firman and Obi (livestreamer in photo)

Zara, Becky, Eleanor Firman and Obi (livestreamer in photo)

Emma (speaking with ipad) and Dyi

Emma (speaking with ipad) and Dyi

Tim (PA), Lani, Manjit  Rehal and colleague from Coventry CRASAC

Tim (PA), Lani, Manjit Rehal and colleague from Coventry CRASAC

Sarah (with thumbs up) and Emma

Sarah (with thumbs up) and Emma

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Back to us, Armineh and Zara, Pauline, Martine (standing up), Michelle and Becky

Sisters of Frida held the 2015 AGM Saturday 10th January, in Coventry, Kahawa café, 163 New union Street, CV1 2PL.

A panel of speakers discussed the issues for Sisters of Frida to focus on: disability and sexuality, domestic violence and violence against women, social justice and intersectionality. This AGM was livestreamed and we had a remote captioner for one deaf delegate and the other with hearing impairment.

http://bambuser.com/v/5206611 ( Michelle: Welcome and Introductions)

http://bambuser.com/v/5206673 ( Becky and Zara: Young disabled women and intersectionality)

http://bambuser.com/v/5206684 (Michelle: Health Care and Inequality for disabled women)

http://bambuser.com/v/5206741 (Eleanor: Feminism and Disability, UN instruments)

http://bambuser.com/v/5206759 ( Questions and Answers)

http://bambuser.com/v/5206830 (Priorities for SoF video )

2015 01 10 SISTERS OF FRIDA Transcript (transcript captioned in MS Word Doc)

Dead Women Walking march – Sunday 23rd November 2014

Standard
women in red ponchos in the red

waiting for the other women to arrive

This is a remembrance walk and we walked to represent the number of women killed in one year in the UK, there was a Red Rain Poncho for each woman representing a murdered woman and a candle bearing a name – the candles had their wicks cut off to comply with Health & Safety rules and remained UNLIT.

It was a wet day but about 85 women, 4 men and a few children walked down from Grosvenor Sq mostly in silence while the names of the dead women were read out.

A candla for each woman

A candla for each dead woman

waiting outside 10 Downing Street

giving the petition at No10 Downing Street

giving the petition at No10 Downing Street