Category Archives: Uncategorized

Opening the doors: Debt, domestic violence, power relations and an eviction notice

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elle:

“Sarah (not her real name) must have thought her life was on a more even keel when she finally worked up the courage to escape the violence in her family home. She had moved back in again in 2008 when she struggled to find a job after leaving university. It wasn’t a good time to be graduating. The economy had just tanked. She was also battling a serious mental health issue – borderline personality disorder (BPD). Once home, she says she found herself ‘scapegoated’ for not having a job and once again the target of a relative’s abuse and violence.

Now she faces the reality of being evicted (see letter below) from the shared house run by a housing trust in Greenwich – the borough she came to for help.”

Originally posted on Ann McGauran:

Sarah, a single woman of 28 and a law graduate, came in on Friday and kindly shared her account of why she needed help. Before I pass on her story I’d like to remind readers that I don’t speak for those who run this London food bank, although they’ve allowed me to interview their clients. Any opinions expressed on this site from time to time are my own. I don’t represent the food banks in the borough of Greenwich. Neither do I represent the views of the Trussell Trust , which partners with churches in this area to run the food banks.

Sarah (not her real name) must have thought her life was on a more even keel when she finally worked up the courage to escape the violence in her family home. She had moved back in again in 2008 when she struggled to find a job after leaving…

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At WOW Festival 2014 | Feminism & Privilege

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Does mainstream feminism only speak to white, straight, able-bodied, middle class women? This panel unpicks the debate about feminism and identity politics, what it means to be a good ally and whether you can ever leave your privilege at the door. Speakers include Nan Sloane, director of the Centre for Women and Democracy, Reni Eddo-Lodge, writer and contributing editor at Feminist Times and Eleanor Lisney of Sisters of Frida and Mercia McMahon. Chaired by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.

Sisters of Frida are holding a party at the RFH, Southbank

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WOW logoWe were lucky enough to be one of the chosen 8 women organisations for a space at the WoW Parties at the Royal Festival Hall http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/wow-parties-81651

WOW Parties celebrate the work of charities and organisations supporting women in the UK and internationally.

We would like you to join us in this opportunity to network and celebrate the lives of disabled women on the 5th March from 6pm.
Please send an email to sisofrida@gmail.com if you would like to come – there are limited places and we have to give the list of guests to the South Bank, so if you would like to come please let us know asap.

The other organisations are

Womankind Worldwide

Sphinx Theatre

Raw Material

Black Feminists

End FGM Campaign

Migrant and Refugee Woman of the Year Awards

Gap Salon/So-So Arts and Female Arts
Fun Palaces

we will be celebrating the lives of disabled women and hope to have an installation in time to share with you.
Please RSVP because there is a limit on space and the Southbank would like to know who s coming,

Winvisible (Women with Visible and Invisible disabilities) will be joining us and many thanks to UK Disability History Month for offering the refreshments.

Dr Armineh Soorenian: Disabled International Students in British Higher Education Experiences and Expectations

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Disabled International Students in British Higher Education Experiences and Expectations (2013) https://www.sensepublishers.com/catalogs/bookseries/studies-in-inclusive-education/disabled-international-students-in-british-higher-education/

Disabled International Students in British Higher Education
Experiences and Expectations (2013)

armineh

Armineh

Dr Armineh Soorenian  says

I am pleased to share with you all details of my newly published book, Disabled International Students in British Higher Education: Experiences and Expectations, which has been published by Sense Publishers as part of their Studies in Inclusive Education series. The book is a development of the research and thesis I did as part of my PhD at University of Leeds. The attached flyer gives details of the book and purchasing information, which is in both US dollars and Euros. For those based in the UK, the book can also be bought from Amazon and I understand it can be found on other international Amazon sites as well.

Please pass the information on to anyone you know who may be interested in this area. As this has been several years work in the making, I am keen for it to be used as a resource recognising issues for disabled international students and working towards improving their experiences. I hope this is of interest to you and that you can help

Email: arminehsoorenian1@gmail.com
http://leeds.academia.edu/ArminehSoorenian
Disabled International Students in British Higher Education
Experiences and Expectations (2013)
https://www.sensepublishers.com/catalogs/bookseries/studies-in-inclusive-education/disabled-international-students-in-british-higher-education/

Research discussion list:  http://groups.google.co.uk/group/disintstu

International Day of the Girl: Focus on Education – Missing Stories in the Blogs

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This article is by Stephanie Ortoleva, President, Women Enabled, Inc.

The United Nations has designated October 11 as International Day of the Girl, with a focus on Education.  But as I read many well-written and strong feminist posts on this issue, the concerns of millions of girls with disabilities are missing from the dialog.  Who are the missing girls?  The deaf girl in India who attends a school for deaf children and who was raped by her teachers.  The blind girl in the United States who wants to be a scientist, but is not permitted to take the classes and who is told a blind person can’t be a scientist, especially not a blind girl.  The girl with a disability in Pakistan whose parents keep her at home and will not even let her attend school because they are ashamed.  These are only a few of the untold stories.  But The statistics about education of girls with disabilities tells us even more starkly.

 

Estimates of the percentage of children with disabilities not attending school are extremely variable.  However, in general, children with disabilities are less likely to start school and have lower rates of staying and being promoted in school than their peers without disabilities.  The correlation between low educational outcomes and having a disability is often stronger than the correlations between low educational outcomes and other characteristics such as gender, rural residence or poverty.  The limited statistics that are available indicate that although the literacy rate for adults with disabilities is 3%, only 1% of women with disabilities are literate, based on comprehensive research completed by Harilyn Rousso for UNESCO.  These percentages are significantly lower than those for women in general.  The UNESCO Institute for Statistics reports:  “In 2008, 796 million adults worldwide (15 years and older) reported not being able to read and write and two-thirds of them (64%) were women.  The global adult literacy rate was 83%, with a male literacy rate of 88% and a female literacy rate of 79%.

In 2010, According to a journal article by Francis  Huebler, this statistic improved marginally to a male literacy rate of 89% and a female literacy rate of 80%, with the percent differential between the genders remaining the same.

 

The World Bank and World Health Organization Report states that out of the 51 countries included in the analysis, “50.6% of males with disability have completed primary school, compared with 61.3% of males without disability. Females with disability report 41.7% primary school completion compared with 52.9% of females without disability, a  difference of 8.9% between  males and females with disabilities.”

 

There is a direct correlation between poverty, being a child with disabilities and low education participation, with the girls with disabilities from lower socio-

economic backgrounds rarely attending school.

 

Girls with disabilities have the lowest education participation rates of all groups and they have few opportunities for vocational training, all of which further contributes to their low employment rates.

 

Under international law our participation is our human right.  The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in its Article 7 onChildren with Disabilities and its Article 24 on Education focus on the girl child with a disability and her right to education.

The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in its Articles 10, guarantee to all women and girls the right to education.  Furthermore, in several of its General Recommendations, the CEDAW Committee has specifically addressed the rights of women and girls with disabilities and the Final Conclusions from the 55th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which focused on women and education and employment in the STEM fields, specifically incorporated these rights for women and girls with disabilities.  Thus, the synergy between the CRPD and the CEDAW is a vital tool for advancing our rights in this area.

 

Barriers to the participation of women and girls with disabilities in education are based on culture, family structures, societal attitudes and stereotypes, institutional systems, law and legal processes, economic realities, patriarchy and paternalism.  Specific barriers include:

  • Cultural bias - Often, women are denied education because it is believed that they will become wives and mothers and such resources are provided to male children.  But for women with disabilities, are often seen as unlikely to assume such roles, and thus are the last to receive family resources.
  • Double discrimination - Women and girls with disabilities face double or intersectional discrimination based on both gender and disability (as well as other identities) and stereotypical attitudes based thereon further limit our opportunities.
  • Invisibility - Girls with disabilities are often kept in the home and their births may not be registered, making them invisible to the education system, either because of assumptions about our abilities or embarrassment on the part of our families.  Additionally, misconceptions about our abilities may make us invisible to teachers even if we attend school.
  • Violence against women and girls with disabilities - Women and girls with disabilities are more likely to experience gender-based violence than their non-disabled sisters, sometimes because we are erroneously perceived as sick, helpless, asexual, and powerless, or on the other hand, we are seen as hypersexual or just lucky to have sexual experiences at all wherever we can because we are undesirable.  Additionally, women and girls with disabilities living in residential facilities or schools are even more likely to experience such abuse.
  • Pregnancy, HIV-infection and other results of sexual assault and rape - As a result of sexual violence and rape, women and girls with disabilities may become pregnant or contract sexually transmitted diseases from the abuser.
  • Bullying and teasing - Disabled girls are sometimes subjected to bullying and teasing by their peers based on both our gender and our disability, negatively impacting our emotional and cognitive development, as well as causing low self esteem
  • Economic resources for Education - Male education is prioritized as it is believed that a male child can contribute financially to the family, and women and girls with disabilities are not viewed as worthy of an education since many assume their disabilities will preclude success.
  • Schools in inaccessible locations and/or lack of transportation - Schools that provide special education and/or education for children with disabilities in integrated settings are often located in cities and families are reluctant to send daughters to the city or there is no accessible transport to such schools.  Boys are often seen as more independent and permitted to travel to urban locations.
  • Access to assistive technology and rehabilitation – Men and boys have greater access to such services.
  • Accessibility of school facilities – Often the school buildings and facilities themselves are inaccessible, posing yet another barrier.
  •  Accessible toileting facilities and assistance in toileting - Provision of toileting assistance places a particular burden on women and girls with disabilities, especially with respect to menstruation which is often a taboo topic and access to appropriate hygiene products is non-existent or in very short supply resulting in increased isolation for women and girls with disabilities and further impairs their ability to attend school or work.
  • Availability of special education – Girls with disabilities are less likely to receive special education, in some instances because teachers expect more from boys than girls and sometimes because girls, who may be less likely to act out due to cultural control pressures, are not referred for services based on a learning or other disability.  And even if a girl receives special education services she may be tracked toward pursuing traditional gender-identified career paths.
  • Competitive classroom climate and teaching strategies – Competitive educational approaches are challenging to some girls with disabilities.  Mainly for the same reasons discussed earlier, like bullying, being outnumbered by males in the classroom, and low self-esteem.  In addition, many teachers are trained to teach more life skills to students with disabilities rather than focus on competitive subjects.
  • Digital divide – Women and girls with disabilities are at the bottom of the digital divide and the least likely to have access to technology.
  • Belief that girls do not do math and science – We are presumed not to have aptitude in these subjects and are steered into gender stereotypical subjects, as well as the “talent myth” which is based on the erroneous assumption that skills in STEM fields are an innate aptitude and cannot be learned.
  • Counselling based on stereotypical roles for women and girls – Counsellors often steer girls with disabilities toward gender-stereotyped jobs and generally they are less likely to afford girls with disabilities vocational education and many counsellors hold the incorrect societal perception that girls with disabilities have limited aptitude or interest in STEM and other challenging subjects.
  • Girls with and without disabilities have limited interaction - Both groups would benefit from such interactions, as they contribute to networking and peer support, and reduction of fear and stigma.
  • Absence of women with disabilities as role models – The invisibility of women with disabilities in educational materials, as educators, in the workplace and in the media creates a dearth of positive role models for women and girls with disabilities.
  • Shortage of women with disabilities as mentors – Having a responsive and supportive mentor makes the world of difference for academic and professional success and increased self-esteem.

Let’s spread the facts and then, let’s change them!

Available also as PDF

For more information, see Stephanie Ortoleva’s chapter on this subject in the forthcoming book: Asha Hans, Editor, “Women and Girls with Disabilities – Global Perspectives,” Sage Publications, 2014 (ordering information will be on the Women enabled, Inc.  website in the Reading and Listening room.), Also see the Women Enabled, Inc. website in the “Education and Employment in Science, Technology, engineering and Math” section and the Publications Section for several other articles on women and girls with disabilities.

Day 3 UK Government CEDAW examination

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In the room where the CEDAW committee questions the UK government delegation.

On Day 3 (July 17th), the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women  considered the seventh periodic report of the United Kingdom on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

This is the day we were building towards with the oral presentations, lunch presentations – we gave the CEDAW committee our concerns to help them formulate questions to the those representing the UK government – the panel was led by Helene Reardon-Bond, Director of Policy, Government Equalities Office. The delegation of the United Kingdom in the room included representatives of the Government Equalities Office, the Home Office, the Department of Health, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom to the United Nations at Geneva, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive.

Joining the discussion from London via video-conference were representatives from the Treasury Solicitors, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Ministry of Justice, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department of Health, the Home Office, the Department for Communities and Local Governments, the Department for International Development, the Ministry of Defence, the Treasury, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive.

It was a very long day from 10 am – 5pm with a break for lunch. The exchange of questions and responses do not have any input from NGOs but we did make some responses for example when Helene Reardon-Bond said there’s no evidence whatsoever to show that women are disproportionately affected by austerity measures – it was greeted with derisive laughter.

Some of the questions raised about or on issues impacting specifically on disabled women were:

- question on disabled women in politics (response given was on the available funding provided for by Access to Elected Office for Disabled People Fund and stats on people who had been awarded broken by gender difference – I didnt jot down the numbers in time)

- question on lack of employment opportunities for disabled women (response given was on the Disability Employment Strategy ? and how more funding would be given to Access to Work to help disabled get into and stay in employment)

- question about Universal Credit and how it could affect the dependence of women in domestic abuse (response was that payment exceptions may be possible, including the splitting of payments in specific situations of potential abuse. )

The last response might also apply, where disabled people are concerned, to carers of family situations?

Of course questions pertaining to access to justice, Legal Aid, residence requirements, domenstic violence have also relevance to disabled women in that disability intersects across gender issues.

Here is the UN Press Office  press release on the UK Government’s examination by CEDAW.

When the meeting was over we had to write a series of recommendations for the CEDAW committee to consider. We went off to do them according to our own expertise areas – we were to focus on the topics discussed unless there was some burning issues which were left out – these can be incorporated into the mentioned areas.

the UK delegation lead by Helene Reardon-Bond, (next to the chairperson)

Read also When cuts cost lives: women’s economic independence and domestic violence (Scarlet Harris, Touchstone Blog)

Opening statement to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)

Watch the videos (no captions and sound not brilliant)

thank you Charlotte Gage for links

Day 2 Cedaw Lunch time briefing

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Today we had the lunchtime briefing to the CEDAW committee. We took our handouts and postcards and we had the Sister of Frida’s banner to decorate the room with. It was a small windowless hot room and we all trooped in – some people had to sit next door.

When the committee all came in Charlotte welcomed them and we introduced ourselves briefly with who we are, our organisation and area expertise. I was taken aback when the first question was on disabled women. I spoke about how the impact of cuts affected every area of disabled woman’s lives – even if it does not specifically mention disability and that some have taken their lives as a result of the cumulative impact. We then went on to other issues in particular legal aid, access to justice,  and the need for proof of residence of over 12 months. Hanana Sidiqui of Southall Black Sisters spoke eloquently about the cuts to their services.

We were then told the UK raporteur wanted to meet us at 4pm so we had a bit of a break while Eleanor and I started our information briefing as was required.

At 6pm we went to the brilliant Big Voices exhibit and met a few more committee members and folks. A very full day.

Lunchtime briefing with CEDAW committee

Day 1 Meeting the CEDAW working group UK delegation in Geneva

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with the IWRAW training group for CEDAW

with the IWRAW training group for CEDAW

“No ability to exhaust domestic law renders CEDAW meaningless”  Cris McCurley from NE Women Network

At dinner by Lake Geneva

At dinner by Lake Geneva

En route to CEDAW in Geneva

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at St Pancras

at St Pancras

Both Eleanors set off at St Pancras Saturday morning to catch the Eurostar to go to Geneva, changing stations in Paris to join the other members of the UK delegation for the CEDAW 55th session.

The Eurostar journey was smooth and we took bus no 65 to continue from Gare de Lyon for Geneva. We located the bus stop and all went according to plan. But we missed our train because when we alighted at the designate stop, the signage was so bad we didn’t locate the assistance office and they said they couldn’t put us on – even with 10 mins to spare before the train was due to set off (inspite of the fact we had booked assistance months in advance).

So we had lunch there at the station while waiting for the next direct train – a wait of about 3 hours. We didn’t know we would be given a meal on board the train so we had a another fish dinner! However that meant we did not arrive until 21.15 too late to buy a map at the station. With a little printed Google map and a lot of different directions from passerbys (best directions were from 3 friendly men in a pub) we got to Hotel Silva where we have booked to stay while in Geneva.

Needless to say we were very happy to get there apart,  and bonus surprise, bumping into Charlotte Gage from the UK delegation. More to come later. We will try to blog daily from Geneva.