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Dr Elena Vacchelli Social Policy Research Centre, Middlesex University.

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Presentation on theme: "Dr Elena Vacchelli Social Policy Research Centre, Middlesex University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Dr Elena Vacchelli Social Policy Research Centre, Middlesex University

2  Mapping existing women organisations in London  Evaluating barriers to access and needs of women’s organizations  Assessing specific needs of women’s organizations, identify good practices and propose recommendations which might contribute to the future sustainability of the sector

3  Intersectional theory’ gained prominence in the 1990s as part of a discussion on Black feminism (Crenshaw 1989; Essed 1991; Harding 1997; Hill Collins 1991)  More recently intersectionality is constructed in more general terms, applicable to any grouping of people. Intersectionality consolidates as a major analytical tool to challenge hegemonic approaches to reified forms of identity politics (Anthias 2009; Brah and Phoenix 2013; McCall 2005; Nurval-Davis 2006; Valentine 2007)

4  The women’s sector is led by BAMER and VAWG, however organizations of black women in Britain could be described as ‘hidden from history’  Organising is a means of increasing social inclusion, combating the isolating and debilitating effect of racism that can prevent black women from benefiting from main- stream service provision  ‘Black’ as a political identity consolidated over time

5  Barriers to participation  Multiple discrimination and intersectionality  Identified priorities for the survival of the sector

6 We’re very uptight around race and ethnicity in the UK in the sense that you can talk about diversity to audiences and all they hear is race. Even though we have nine protected characteristics under the equality legislation, their focus is solely on race.

7 There is a lot of exclusion of black services (…) and what that means is that there is no black perspective being heard and I think for the black women we support then it takes on this whole other level because it's not just the women you support being excluded but it's also the person supporting them. I think there is a lot of generic services who have participated in training who do good work with black women but don't understand the difference between being a white person doing good work with a black woman, and having black women being supported by black women in a black women's organisation- and that leadership, how important having that BME leadership is for empowerment.

8 The review of the public sector equality duty is going to highly affect us because we use the PSED for everything I mean when I am doing any sort of policy and advocacy work I always use the PSED an the equality legislation as an argument for cementing my point so I am quite worried about it. For Latin American women it is important and erasing it will have huge consequences on our work. We have signed the petition and trying to disseminate the word, for the government is probably too demanding to having to comply with this but we are absolutely against that going, for us it’s a very good tool.

9 The other barrier which is huge is the whole migration debate I mean the politicization of migration in this country. I have been here for 15 years and I have never seen such a a politicized environment towards migration in such a negative way. One has to apologize to be a migrant it’s just amazing I wrote a blog recently about it you open the press and migrants are portrayed in a negative light. The highly politicized migration debate is a big barrier and the policy environment is a big barrier because you are working with people who day by day are losing their rights you know now this proposal for a new law where residents have to wait for more than one year to get any legal aid for people who could be in the most absurd situations is like leaving a lot of people (like the people we work with) without rights.

10  Shift from needs-led grants to commissioning, which focuses on outcomes and efficiency of service delivery. This has affected the structure of women’s organisations in London, how they deliver services, and is arguably the most significant change that the women’s voluntary and community sector has experienced in recent years.  Sustainability of exisiting services : having to face rise in demand for services and reduced funding

11  Size of the organization  Meeting in accessible places  Language  De-skilling  Some practices such as using on-line applications for jobs or benefits does not take into account the conditions of women on the ground and the intergenerational, global north-south digital divide  ‘Political correctness’ allowing existence of Sharia Law courts in the UK  Loss of the WNC

12 When I first started doing training around domestic violence people would ask me coded racist questions like: ‘aren’t some cultures, men from some cultures more violent than others’. Basically what they used to mean is African Caribbean men; and then come September 11 suddenly they all meant Muslim men. Overnight Muslim men became more violent and African Caribbean men were let off the rope. No one asked me about the supposed greater levels of violence from African Caribbean men anymore, not ever, never, never do they ask me that; and I used to get asked that all the time. Weird.

13 What we do have is, in terms of women have no recourse to public funds, when there was a review of domestic violence services that Hackney Council held eighteen months ago, because they were looking at what services need to be cut, what was good was all women’s organisations - we were all speaking from the same hymn sheet and they asked us what are the priorities in terms of women who are affected by domestic violence issues in a broader sense and we mentioned women who have no recourse to public funds women, who seek asylum…

14 Multiple discrimination and intersectionality is all we say to people so you are talking to parliamentarians you say to them look these women are discriminated on the grounds of gender, race, migration status and there are other layers of complexity they are undocumented forget about it…It’s much more complicated than a single ground and these women are discriminated not just because they are women. Migration, language, kind of visa such as spouse visa are all factors that might contribute to their vulnerability and any kind of visa has vulnerabilities attached in this country. On the top of that there might be not understanding the system, not understanding the language, and o the top of that she comes from a minority and is not even recognized as for instance Asian women are recognized. It has to do with the fact that despite being here from the 1960s and 1970, the numbers have really gone up in the last 10 years.

15  There are about 120 Sharia Law courts in the UK that discriminate Muslim women within their communities  All Sharia laws really is the breach of human rights act, is the breach of the women's rights, child protection act, sexual rights, equal opportunities, they breaching lots of the most important acts supporting women and other people within the community and I am afraid the government by keeping a blind eye on them I think is allowing this happen in the community and they will share responsibility in breeching all these acts in the UK.

16  Recognizing the specificities of the women’s community and voluntary sector which needs more recognition in terms of what it can do better than general services which are not able to tackle multiple needs  Acknowledging intersections between women’s issues (i.e. BME and violence against women)  Ensuring financial sustainability is central: (i)fighting commissioning system (ii) working in partnerships where smaller organizations could be brought together with larger providers

17  In the light of the ‘bonfire of the quangos’ more lobbying is needed around the idea of equality  Need for more inclusive networks and opportunity to meet more often/ regularly as this would make coordination across the sector easier  Working with volunteers had been identified as a good practice that could be extended to other women’s community and voluntary organizations


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