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LAWA’s statement on our participation in the Women’s March on London

On the past 21st of January, the Latin American Women’s Aid, together with other Latin American women, marched on the Women’s March on London. We decided to join the Women’s March on London because we Latin American women and other Black and Minority ethnic women and migrant women have been for long but are now more than ever being particularly threatened and targeted by racism, xenophobia and sexism both in the US but also in the UK. Trump embodies these hate discourses, policies and practices as much as Theresa May or Nigal Farage in the UK austerity scenario and post-Brexit vote scenario in which cuts to Domestic Violence services, racism and anti-migrant practices have been legitimised and widespread. The attack to our rights and the rise of hate is a cross border reality and we, women of colour and migrant women are the hardest hit. That said, we felt interpellated to join an International movement of women in one of many Sisters Women’s March happening in the world.
As a Latin American BME organisation, as black feminists committed to intersectional feminism, we understood the Women’s March on London as an opportunity to take the streets, raise our voices and self-represent our struggles. Our journey of taking action is not limited to this march, we have been for decades resisting and collectively building spaces to transform the oppressive structures of power, nurturing the collective empowerment of migrant women of colour and the self-determination of our communities. However, although the Women’s March on London at first seemed to call for a collective action in favour of the rights of women, in fact, it did not properly allowed for all voices of women to be represented. We regret that the prevailed discourse has been a white feminism one that reinforces privilege, reproduces power imbalances, and silences the voices of other women.
One of our lessons learnt at the Women’s March on London is the urgency to bring to the forefront of the debate an analysis of race, class, borders, disability, power, privilege and other oppressions that we, women of colour, experience in opposition to a white washed feminism that prevailed in this march. As a BME feminist organisation we believe that feminism has to be intersectional. We believe in a feminist movement that deeply acknowledges intersectional forms of oppression and brings the voices and concerns of migrants, black women and women of colour; working class women; disabled women; LBTQ women and non-binary people to the heart of this movement by allowing space for self-representation.
We regret that the Women’s March did not fully reflect such principles. We stand in solidarity with other women of colour who have raised very important critiques to the organisers of the Women’s March London, raising its lack of intersectionality and inclusivity and eventually deciding not to attend to the march. We recognise their decision not to attend the march as a political act of resistance. We stand in solidarity with all women who felt unrepresented and excluded from the organizational process, and despite this, challenged the organizers of the Women’s March on London writing powerful statements denouncing the vices and practices that permeate feminist spaces, which are based on privilege. We hope that in the future, together we can build more inclusive and intersectional feminist spaces and movements truly based on sisterhood and solidarity. Our protest and resistance did not start and does not end with the Women’s March.

Women Worldwide Active 2017

LAWA congratulates Women Worldwide Active for its work in accompanying and empowering black and ethnic minority women in the UK to take control and self-determination to change their lives. Its program drives women to creativity, entrepreneurship and economic self-sustainability.

Last Sunday we celebrated together with the team and volunteers of Women Worldwide Active, the graduation of a group of women entrepreneurs and also reflected together on the challenges that women of colour have to access a life free of violence. Programs such as this drive and inspire change because they allow the development of creativity, the sense of autonomy and personal growth through the development of new skills and knowledge that improve the life and environment of women.

We thank the Women Worldwide team for inviting LAWA to share the celebration, the music and the party.

LAWA at the #WomensMarchLondon

Why is LAWA joining the #WomensMarchLondon on Saturday (January 21st)?

As Latin American Women it is very important to march at this particular time to oppose the current climate and discourses attacking our migrant communities and women, especially women of colour. LAWA will march to protest patriarchy, racism, xenophobia and discriminations of any kind.

We will march for the protection of our fundamental rights and for the safeguarding of freedom, dignity, housing and health especially for migrant and BME women. This march calls us to share the spirit of freedom, sisterhood, solidarity and hope for not giving up in times of uncertainty and violence. The rights of women and migrants, as of all humanity, are not negotiable.

JOIN US! We will be meeting by the Eagles Squadron Memorial at Grosvenor Square at 12. More information on our Facebook event.

Be a change maker!

Change Maker is a new project by LAWA, which aims to encourage Latin American and BME women that speak Portuguese and/or Spanish to become change makers.

What is the Change Maker programme?

It is a space for women to find empowerment (and help other women to do the same) and be more active within their social environments, triggering change.

Within a feminist space for women only, we will offer tools to raise awareness about the connection between gender-based violence and inequality (social, economic, racial and cultural) that affects us.

Why should you be a Change Maker?

A change maker is the bridge between culture & knowledge. If we recognise our abilities and knowledge in a personal and collective way, the possibilities to change realities of injustice and inequalities into fair and inclusive ones are much higher.

How?

Through a community space of feminist learning, we will provide strategies of self care, autonomy and empowerment.

When?

The project is structured in four parts, each one lasts two months, with two activities each mont. Day and time can be arranged according to the personal availability of each participant.

Where?

The workshops and activities will take place at LAWA’s headquarters in Dalston as well as other community spaces, but we will keep you informed and let you know in advance.

Who can take part:

  • Latin American and BME women of all ages, sexual orientation, migrant situation, of any social, politic and economic background
  • Spanish or Portuguese speakers
  • You need to have an idea for a project, or be wiling to develop one. A project that will contribute to personal and collective empowerment
  • You will need to fill a form and attend an interview
  • If you are selected, we ask for your commitment and availability

What we offer:

  • Confidentiality and respect
  • A safe space to develop your project
  • Workshops and classes in Spanish and Portuguese
  • Materials and other resources
  • Personalised guidance and group discussions about the projects and initiatives of Change Maker
  • Meals
  • Creche

If you are interested, please get in touch with Jael: jael@lawadv.org.uk

Volunteer Counselling Role Specification

LAWA is currently starting a very exciting stage as we are expanding our portfolio of services. Part of this is our new counselling service. After years advocating for LA and other BME women we became aware of the existing gap in the provision of a counselling service specially tailored for the needs of the women we attend.  LAWA’s counselling service will be one of the few in London offering a Spanish/Portuguese speaking, gender responsive and including an intersectional approach.

We are looking for volunteer counsellors to join LAWA to start in February, with interviews to be held at the end of January.

Please find below the full role description and application form below.

 Volunteer Counsellor Role and Application Form

Final days of crowdfunding!

On November 14th we kick started our very first crowdfunding campaign, a brand new adventure for us! It has been a busy month, and we are happy to announce that we reached the minimum target of £2,500 from 50 different donors and we are now partners of GlobalGiving, the crowdfunding platform.

But the campaign is not over yet. We have a few more days (until Monday, December 19th, at precisely 2pm) to try to be between the first three charities on the leaderboard (because this campaign is part of a challenge) and win bonus prizes from GlobalGiving. Right now, we are in the 7th place.

All money raised with this campaign will go towards our shelter. We want to improve our infrastructure for the children living there. From hygiene kits to school packs to counselling, our idea is to build a positive environment for kids to overcome the traumatic experience of domestic violence.

Please donate NOW and be part of change!

bit.ly/shelterchildren

Workshop: I am a woman and this is my power

As part of the Changemakers programme, on December 8th we welcomed a group of women at our HQ for the workshop “I am a woman and this is my power”. It was an insightful 2 hour workshop, in which we discussed what does it mean to be a woman nowadays.

To kick start the conversation, we asked the participants to share their views about “nice women” and “bad women”. Also, we encouraged them to think about how these opinions were formed. Are they really our own perceptions or are we led to perceive “nice” and “bad” women in a particular way?

The first conclusion is that society sees “nice women” as martyrs: perfect mothers, entirely dedicated to their families, compassionate, carers, organised, on top of things. On the other hand, men are not expected to be or act the same. They are “allowed” to be single, or to have several relationships. They are not even expected to be good fathers. And if they do, they are perceived as heroes.

So, the following task consisted in discussing what influences us to think like that, and the answers were organised in four main topics: tradition, biology, religion and culture.

  • Culture: the way women are portrayed in the media (stereotypes), impossible “role models”
  • Religion: women need to be submissive or “saved” by a man, women are rarely leaders
  • Biology: women are paid less because of their gender; they are discriminated in the workplace if they become mothers and discriminated by society if they don’t have kids
  • Traditions: “family values” that teach women to be carers, do all the housework and, again, impose motherhood.

So, can we really label women as “nice” or “bad”? We are much more complex than that!

The final exercise encourage the participants to think about actions that can be taken in order to change our environment (therefore contributing to change distorted perceptions). These are some of the most used words, taken from the answers:

strenght

optimism

belief

courage

focus

awareness

self-care

learn

empower

support

Thanks to all the women that came to the workshop, we are looking forward to our next meeting!

Volunteer Counsellors

We are looking for volunteer counsellors that want to commit to work with us for at least one year once a week. To apply to this role you must be a Latin American (or from other minority ethnicity) woman and speak Spanish or/and Portuguese. You should be a fully trained counsellor/psychologist or working towards accreditation. You must have a minimum of 150 supervised hours of clinical experience.

We’ll provide individual and group supervision and ongoing training opportunities. We will cover your travel expenses.Volunteer Counsellor Role and Application Form

The end of domestic violence support for black and brown women in the UK?

“Lawa, as the group is widely known, opened in 1986 and they run the only domestic violence refuge for Latin Americans in the UK. Like other refuges and organisations set up in 70s and 80s Britain, they arose from radical women’s rights and anti-racist movements. Domestic violence shelters specifically for black, south-Asian, Chinese, Latin American and other ethnic minority women, now bundled under the term BAME, were founded because these women weren’t getting support from statutory or mainstream places.”

Read all history in:

https://www.opendemocracy.net/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/whats-race-got-to-do-with-it-fight-against-domestic-violence

Waterloo Bridge, London. Photograph: Guen Murroni. All rights reserved.

What is Online Abuse?

Tomorrow, LAWA’s VAWG Coordinator Victoria Gutierrez will be at the Colombian Consulate (London) from 6pm to talk about online abuse.

The event is free to attend and is part of a cycle of talks given by Latin American organisations in London.

Some of the points Victoria will talk about:

  • What is online abuse and how to recognise it
  • What does the law say about it?
  • How to protect yourself

Please see the poster below for more details!

lawa-24-11-2016