Here is the summary of minutes from 9th December meeting. Thanks everyone for attending!
We organise our actions according to the goals laid out in our mission statement – to BACK UP/ELEVATE/ORGANISE. Take a look here for our thinking on this: https://feministsworkforchange.com/
UPDATE ON 16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM
Sarah ran our Feminist Art Workshop on 5 December at West Bromwich market, with support from Carolyn and Katy. The workshop was part of the international 16 Days of Activism campaign A Room of Their Own, a project by West Bromwich based art organisation Multistory. The market stall acted as a hub for raising awareness of women in refuge, sharing information about where to get help, collecting cash and much needed items for women in refuge, and to sell the Susan Meiselas book A Room of Their Own, which also features drawings by Sarah. http://multistory.org.uk/product/a-room-of-their-own-pre-order/
We made tote bags and badges with feminist slogans on them with members of the public, and made more to be sold to raise funds for The Haven in Wolverhampton.
BLACK COUNTRY AND SOLIHULL WOMEN’S AID
Meeting took place with Feminists Work for Change members and BSWAID (Birmingham & Solihull Women’s Aid) on 8 December. Following issues were raised re. women in and seeking refuge, and in domestic violence situations:
– An increase in sexual violence against young women, particularly at bars and clubs in town (especially on Broad Street). ORGANISE: At the meeting we agreed to contact bar and club owners to raise / increase their awareness of sexual violence on their premises as a serious issue. Meeting is taking place on Tuesday 16 January (tbc) to talk about next steps, please contact us if you are interest in attending.
– Closures of refuges, the homeless reduction act and the move to drive homelessness down mean that women are more likely to stay in abusive relationships; impact of universal credit; how women access information without an advocate to support them through it. ELEVATE: We agreed to raise public awareness of this through zine, flyer and poster making. We also want to raise awareness of the routes into support from BSWAID and others (Black Country Women’s Aid, The Haven in Wolverhampton and in Coventry) for women and for professionals who come into contact with women – local and national helplines. ORGANISE fundraising for sticker production to make stickers that can be distributed in toilets etc.
– At the meeting it was discussed that art can be used in work with mums and children, helping them to rebuild their relationships that have been greatly damaged by the abuse they’ve witnessed or experienced. ORGANISE: A member has agreed to explore fundraising possibilities with the arts organisation she works for.
SEX AND RELATIONSHIP EDUCATION
We talked about the seriousness and importance of the compulsory sex and relationship syllabus. There was a shared interest in the importance of this, but with more research and discussion into how we could influence effective outcomes and what is the message that we want young people and young girls to hear? We also talked about counteracting the influence of porn and about working with out of school groups, such as the girl guides or other social initiatives for children and young people.
ORGANISE: The group felt that it would be good for someone who works in the field to come and talk to us, a member agreed to get in touch with a possible contact who could come in to speak to us.
The group discussed the best way forward with supporting the Yarlswood protests after accusations against Movement for Justice (MfJ) who organise the protest (https://unfollowmfj.wordpress.com/). In a nutshell, MfJ have failed to provide any adequate response to the allegations of abuse by former members, and in fact revealed the identity of the member accusing them, in spite of the danger this may have put them in. On the other hand, people of colour who organise MfJ have accused the activist groups who are boycotting them of trying to disband a black-led movement who have been hugely active in organising protests. We decided that until further notice, we would keep looking for ways that we could support future protests at Yarlswood without being affiliated with MfJ.
ORGANISE: The feminist library is open! We have two books by Rebecca Solnit (Men Explain Things to Me and The Mother of All Questions), a Ruth Ozeki (My Year of Meat), and two books by Roxanne Gay (Bad Feminist and Difficult Women). Let us know if you want to borrow one and we’ll arrange to get it to you. Equally, if you would like to add a feminist text, zine or book to the library, get in touch.
ASYLUM SEEKERS AND MIGRANT WOMEN
Throughout the meeting, the group recognised and discussed the extra difficulties faced by women Asylum Seekers and migrants who are subject to immigration control: we discussed at several points that migrants who have no Leave to Remain in the UK face particular barriers in accessing help from the police after sexual assaults or Domestic Violence services. Women whose immigration claim is dependent on their husband as the main applicant may not leave abusive relationships for fear of being deported. A recent case of a woman approaching the police for help after being sexually assaulted being immediately arrested on immigration charges has garnered media attention. The lack of beds for women who have no Leave to Remain (and therefore no recourse to public funds) and need to leave situations of domestic violence was raised as a major problem.
BACK UP: We suggested we could look at ways of supporting immigration charities to spread messages to migrants about how they can access support in the case of domestic violence or sexual assault. We will also investigate how much it would cost to sponsor a bed for a year at a domestic violence shelter.
WEST MIDLANDS FEMINIST HEROES
ORGANISE: As a way of celebrating our local heroes, both in the past and present, we talked about launching a series of posts on social media campaign about our West Midlands Feminist Heroes. If you would like to take part, get permission from your Feminist Hero (if they are still with us) and then send a photo/drawing etc of them plus a bit of text about why you’ve put them forward.
Other discussion points:
Social media: The Feminists Work For Change Instagram has proved very popular, and we are thinking about doing Instagram takeovers with different group members. If you have an idea for taking over the Instagram account for your personal experience of a day in the life of a feminist, drop us a line so we can arrange.
NEXT MEETING: FEBRUARY 17TH 2-4PM at Yumm (tbc, get in touch if you’d like to attend) Digbeth, Birmingham. Please email us if you’d like the full minutes.