WILPF Narrative Final Report 

Partner/ WILPF section: UK

Name of project/ process: Voices of Refugee Women

Period report covers: September– November 30 2017

 

Linkage to WILPF International Strategy

This project promotes advocacy and builds a feminist space for women refugees to share their stories and will help to build a coalition that stands up for women. Publicity from the project enables the campaign to be at the heart of the debate on refugees in the UK

 

Context

  • The plans for the Seminar followed many women requesting to hear refugee stories at our AGM in April 2017. We wanted to work in partnership with relevant groups and individuals to have a sincere event that would lead somewhere. The movement building opportunity was ideal for us to make a real impact. The stories told at the event were informative, harrowing and moving please see the attached notes from Helen Kay.
  • We discussed the project at our Executive Meetings on 23 September and 4 November. From October onwards I (Paula Shaw) coordinated updates on the planning with the Executive Committee Members and the wonderful younger volunteers who were crucial to the success of the event- please see attached.

 

Overview on Activities Achieved 

  • On 25 November we held the WILPF UK Autumn Seminar- please see attached programme.
  • Over 80 people attended and all said it was successful- please see attached evaluation comments.
  • We worked in partnership with organisations which support refugee women- contact was made with Praxis, Hackney Migrant Centre and many others.
  • The All African Women’s Group provided 3 speakers.
  • The Women for Refugee Women organisation provided 5 speakers for the event. Part of their organisation’s empowerment course is to enable women to “tell their story” in a meaningful way. The opportunity to tell their stories at our WILPF event complemented this. We were also able to show an excellent video created by Women for Refugee Women.
  • The Network for Eritrean Women provided 2 speakers
  • Voices of African Women, VoAW (UK WILPF’s own campaign) was represented by 2 speakers (one who travelled from a distance) and there was a VoAW meeting prior to the event, on November 3 which involved discussion on the seminar.
  • We were also fortunate to have a speaker from Rainbow Families (based in Manchester).
  • We organised a buffet lunch and had the ‘Raised Voices Choir singing songs about refugees which we all joined in with- see the attached songs- this created a lovely atmosphere.
  • Our International Board representatives from UK WILPF, Maki Kimura and Marie-Lyse Numuhoza (job share) chaired the afternoon session which addressed how we can further support refugee women. They had a planning meeting in October to prepare for this- please see the attached mini report from Maki Kimura.
  • We used an online registration system- 51 payments for tickets were made on line, 7 paid at the event and over 20 were exempt from payment (as they had no recourse to public funds). 34 non-WILPF members attended.
  • Biteable videos produced for ukwilpf.org
  • The timing of the Seminar coincided with Day 1 of the 16 days of Action – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. We were able to show the video created by WILPF International.

 

Outreach and Communications

  • The seminar was advertised on social media, in local papers, with our affiliated organisations and by fliers given out at events during September and October 2017.
  • Our younger members who are undergraduate or post graduate students circulated details across their student social network systems. As a consequence we had students attending who had never been involved with UK WILPF before. Hopefully some will now become members.
  • The local free newspaper, ‘Peace News’ and others advertised the event.
  • We are fortunate in having a UK WILPF Communications team and a lot of the advertising work was carried out by them. Isabel Bull (who spent some time in WILPF International office), used the Biteable product and created wonderful videos about the Seminar and about WILPF- please see attached).
  • Isabel also created Infographics which were used on the Facebook and Website – see wilpfuk.org

 

Challenges 

  • We had intended to have blogs from individual refugee women to share on social media prior to 25 November but only received 2.
  • A lot of the speakers had English as a second language and were reticent to put anything in writing.
  • Many women were also still going through an asylum process, or working through trauma, and felt unable to put anything in writing. We agreed to take the pressure off and part of the follow up will be sharing verbal stories (from filming) of those women who agreed to this.
  • There were some organisations who agreed to take part who did not attend (Praxis and Brave Empowerment Network) but we had sufficient attend to ensure meaningful dialogue.

 

Additional Information 

WILPF members took part in the Feminism in London and CND conferences (14th and 15th October) including new volunteers.- they helped distribute fliers as well as sell our merchandise.

Cynthia Cockburn (Esteemed academic and WILPF member) attended the event and introduced her book – “Looking to London”   stories of war, escape and asylum – extremely relevant to the seminar.

The local MP, Meg Hillier,   attended the event at the lunch break. She is the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee in Parliament and has been active with lobbying requests.

As you can see from the Programme we were fortunate to have Laila Alodaat join us in the afternoon. Laila gave a very informative update of the work of WLPF International

 

Additional Information 

  • We attended the conferences of Feminism in London (FiLIA) and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) on 14 and 15 October where WILPF volunteers helped to distribute fliers as well as sell our merchandise.
  • Cynthia Cockburn (esteemed academic and WILPF member) attended our event and introduced her book- Looking to London: stories of war, escape and asylum, which was extremely relevant to the seminar.
  • The local MP, Meg Hillier, attended the event. She is the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee in Parliament and has been active with lobbying requests.
  • As you can see from the programme we were fortunate to have Laila Alodaat join us in the afternoon. Laila gave a very informative update of the work of WILPF International.

 

Conclusions and Overall Performance 

The grant enabled UKWILPF to initiate this campaign and to hold this event. It is not the end of the story and although this is a Final Report the work will be ongoing:

 

  • We will share the report with all who attended the seminar (contact sheets from the day will enable this).
  • We will be recording the stories of the refugee women who agreed to have their stories published on social media.
  • We will continue to build an effective coalition of organisations (including with organisations unable to attend the event).
  • We will lobby at local and national levels based on what we were told by the refugee women.(e.g March 8th2018)
  • We will produce a template letter for use with writing to MPs.

 

Paula Shaw UK WILPF Treasurer- on behalf of UK WILPF