Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Gearing up for International Women's Day

As usual the women's sector is abuzz with activities for International Women's Day (8 March). WRC is going to be present at two major events in London on the day itself: the annual capitalwoman conference and the all new Million Women Rise march.

Both events look set to attract thousands of women and both will highlight important issues for women. In the absence of a time machine or teleportation skills, WRC staff will be engaging in some nifty tag-team action to ensure we're able to support both of these events and make the most of these opportunities to raise the profile of women's organisations. If you're coming to capitalwoman, come up and see us in the Pickwick Lounge - we'll be the table tucked away in the corner, if the floorplan is to be believed (must bake cookies for the events planner next year) - we'll have all our latest reports and publications for you to take away with you, and might even stretch to a purple sparkly WRC pen if you ask nicely.

In less cheerful news, Ealing Council has decided to 'celebrate' International Women's Day by jeopardising the future of one of the most respected women's organisations in the country, maybe even the world: Southall Black Sisters. For decades, Southall Black Sisters has been a pioneering and pre-eminent campaigning and advocacy group for black & minority ethnic women experiencing domestic violence. Ealing Council has been giving SBS a regular grant to carry out this vital work. Now the Council only wants to fund an organisation that will provide services to all women in the borough (with no more money for this extra work). WRC has written to Ealing Council, urging them to recognise the value of the specialist service SBS provides to some of the most marginalised women, and also wrote to the Guardian newspaper:

Many black and minority ethnic women's organisations are in peril. I can only hope that the government is listening as it develops its proposals for funding guidance on cohesion. Advising funders to give preference to projects that bring groups together will not improve cohesion. Far from promoting cohesion, it will further exclude people already on the margins of society.

The government is out of touch with those working at the coalface. We need good guidance for funders that genuinely promotes equality and cohesion and ensures that invaluable organisations like Southall Black Sisters do not become victims of a 'one-size-fits-all' funding culture.
(Society Guardian, 20 February 2008)

News of the threat to SBS has spread quickly and support has come from far and wide - from physical protests at council meetings and letters to Ealing Council, to messages of support in myriad blogs and even an active and growing Facebook group. See http://www.southallblacksisters.org.uk/savesbs.htm for more.

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