Inspiring Women

Sept Meeting 1
Speakers!

Tuesday night was our main meeting and it was one of truly inspiring women speakers and a bumper turnout.  First up was Amie Ferris-Rotman, a war correspondent and Stanford fellow who has reported from over 30 date zones. She spoke to us about her decade as a female reporter and the particular challenges as well as benefits of being a woman working in the media. She went on to tell us about her project Sahar Speaks that she started whilst living in Kabul. Sahar Speaks is a mentoring programme to train Afghani women as international reporters and journalists as she saw female reporters were sadly lacking in the international news corps there.  Amie’s project has in the last few days been granted funding (amazing!) and she is now on the look out for experienced jouranlists and reporters to act as mentors, so if you know anyone who fits the bill please get in touch.

Raffle Prizes
So much raffle!

Next up we were lucky enough to have an emotional but inspiring talk from Women for Refugee Women (W4RW).  We have worked closely with W4RW raising awareness of their campaign to end the detention of female asylum seekers. Hopefully you have seen or heard about our wonderful Solidarity Blanket (with a message from none other than Angelina Jolie on it!) or if you saw the Channel 4 expose then you will know something about Yarlswood Detention Centre. This centre is where up to 400 women are imprisoned at any one time, many without any knowledge of when they will be released, their only ‘crime’, wanting safety and to make a better life for themselves. W4RW’s message on detention centres is simple; shut them down. We heard first hand the difficulties faced in the UK as a refugee woman and finished by discussing ways that Shoreditch Sisters could continue to work with them. It was a fantastic meeting and thank you so much to Amie and W4RW for coming to speak to us.

Speakers presenting
More Speakers!

We are holding a campaigns meeting 6 October 2015 so if you have any ideas please come along and share them, check it out here

We look forward to seeing you at our next meeting where we will be looking for a full house and playing Bingo! Extra bingo cards can be purchased on the night with all proceeds going to our chosen charity Luminary bakery.

Blog post by Sophie Robinson on behalf of Shoreditch Sisters WI

Solidarity Quilt to #SetHerFree

Shoreditch Sisters Solidarity QuiltFor those of you who are watching BBC2’s Lucy Worsely present Cake Bakers and Trouble Makers tonight – you may see some familiar faces. What a couple of crazy months it has been in the Shoreditch Sisters’ Solidarity Quilt campaign. Time to take stock and talk about what’s next, to keep this amazing momentum going.

WHERE DID WE START?

Almost two years ago now, we started a knitting project with a group of refugee women from Women for Refugee Women. Here we swapped knitting skills, women from the WI and refugee women alike, culminating in more knitted squares than anyone knew what to do with. During these knitting sessions, many of the refugee women spoke of the time they had spent in detention and the inhumane treatment they had suffered there. They had been imprisoned not because they had committed a crime, but because they had sought safety in the UK. What is more, many of their friends were still locked up in detention.

We decided to turn the squares into our beautiful Solidarity Quilt; a powerful symbol of female solidarity with women inside detention demanding that women seeking asylum in the UK are treated with justice and dignity. Kick starting a full on Solidarity Quilt tour we made a first stop at the Women of the World festival where we sewed the blanket together and the UK public wrote messages of support to the women inside. Next stop was Yarl’s Wood detention centre, where the quilt hung for a month and our Trojan horse echoed support from within detention’s walls. Finally we knitted in bright craftivist protest at the summit to End Sexual Violence with the message that if the UK Government is serious about tackling sexual violence, then decent support needs to be offered to those women who flee it.

WHAT HAPPENED THEN?

With news that the home secretary Theresa May was conducting a review into detention centres, we grabbed hold of the momentum and made even more noise: Dressing up as Theresa May at our second Women of the World festival to urge Mrs May to be ambitious in her review. In the run up to the election, our Solidarity Quilt was displayed in the Victoria & Albert’s ‘All of this belongs to you’ exhibition. We marched along with the ‘Say No to Racism’ march holding our ‘migration is beautiful’ placards. And joined 100s of people in demonstrations outside of Harmondsworth and Yarl’s Wood detention centres where the detainees inside joined in with our chants of ‘Freedom!’

Teresa May at WOW Fest

CELEBRATE!

The solidarity movement with people in detention is growing through great efforts by passionate individuals, sisters and organisations as the Movement for Justice and Women for Refugee Women. Not only are there now 100s of people speaking up against detention, the High Court of Justice ruled that detaining fast track asylum seekers is unlawful. Asylum-seekers would therefore no longer be detained throughout the asylum process simply for claiming asylum. A massive win, showing that ending detention is possible.

WHAT IS NEXT?

For all of you in Shoreditch Sisters’ Campaigning, the next big moment is on Saturday 8 August when we will be joining a massive protest with women outside and inside Yarl’s Wood.

But there is more to come! If you’re interested in joining Shoreditch Sisters Campaigns, let us know by emailing us or join our Facebook group to keep up to date with our meetings.

Shoreditch Sisters Marching

Blog post by Rachel Wandelaar for Shoreditch Sisters WI