Don’t let the Government roll back our rights to at-home medical abortion services
At home medical abortion services have revolutionised access to sexual healthcare. It has reduced the number of women accessing online abortion pills illegally by nearly 90%, increased speed of access to services despite a global pandemic and is the preferred form of treatment for the majority of patients.
There is absolutely no justification for withdrawing telemedical abortion services, and denying many women access to services and putting even more pressure on our health service.
Sign below to demand that the Government maintain access to telemedical abortion services.
Over the next month WE will be protesting for a total of 91 hours to protest the fact that Disabled women were as much as #91Percent more likely to die of COVID. [source]
One of the Government’s first acts when the COVID crisis hit was to roll back councils’ duties to support Disabled and older people. Then the plan to support those shielding was created as an afterthought, in under 48 hours; blanket Do Not Attempt Resuscitation orders were issued to people in care homes without consultation; and many of us were initially left off the vaccine priority list despite being at far higher risks of death.
Now, it has been revealed that even after adjusting for socio-economic background, poor health and housing, Disabled women with higher support needs are still 91% more likely to die from COVID-19
We cannot let this injustice be ignored. We must raise awareness and hold politicians to account. Over the next month we will be protesting outside Parliament for a total of ninety one hours to show politicians that we cannot be ignored.
Show your support by joining our protest.
How can I take part?
1. Sign up to cover a protest shift in your own time
>>>> Cover a protest shift <<<<
2. Save the date for our online protest at 5pm on July 20th
>>> Save the date <<<<
3. Organise a protest in your area
>>> Organise a local protest <<<
Why is it important to protest:
We must create pressure for urgent political action to make change. To do this we need to keep this issue in the media and online and we need to demonstrate that the political decision to ignore - participating will help to do both.
By showing overwhelming support for urgent action by protesting locally and making noise on social media and in our communities, this heightens the likelihood of this issue being raised in parliament. To make change, we must make noise.
Dear Sadiq Khan,
Women are exhausted, we are heartbroken, we are afraid. Over the last week women across the UK have been united in their sorrow and rage over the disappearance of Sarah Everard, and the fact that a Metropolitian Police Officer has now been charged for her kidnapping and murder.
This weekend women shared their stories of the lengths they have to go to try to feel safe in our city. Holding keys like knuckle dusters, avoiding going out at night, hiding disabilities, pretending to talk on the phone, walking down the train until they find a carriage with another woman. One woman described pulling strands of her hair out in a taxi to leave DNA evidence in case anything happened.
Enough is enough. You have the power to change this.
- The Met cannot be trusted to investigate their own officer, especially when they are being investigated for their handling of an earlier indecent exposure allegation. As Police and Crime Commissioner for London, you must ensure the investigation into Sarah’s death is passed to a neighbouring police force.
- Invest in a specialist police squad to tackle gender based violence in London and restore women’s trust in the criminal justice system. Hold the Met to account for improving charging rates.
- Make ending violence against women and girls your top priority. Set and publish targets for crime reduction and appoint a Deputy Mayor to take the lead.
- Guarantee sustainable funding for specialist violence against women and girls services based on need, so that no woman is ever turned away from safe refuge in our city. This must include migrant women.
Violence against women and girls is not inevitable. You, as Mayor, as London’s Police and Crime Commissioner, have a choice about whether and how to respond to the realities women and girls in our city are facing. For far too long our very real fears have been minimised and ignored by politicians. But enough is enough.
Leader of the Women’s Equality Party
Dear Sadiq Khan,
We are writing to ask you to make London a Sanctuary City for abused migrant women.
Our city is facing two pandemics, the COVID-19 virus and the violence that it exacerbates. In the last year, rates of domestic abuse and other forms of gender based violence have spiralled across our city, and despite government rhetoric, many migrant women have been left to face that abuse alone.
The government recently announced that it was putting travellers up in quarantine hotels, demonstrating that they have the resources and infrastructure to rapidly house people when there is political will. But they refuse to demonstrate that will, support or funding to ensure that migrant women are not trapped with their abusers.
As you know, the government’s ‘hostile’ or ‘compliant’ environment policies are stopping migrant women from leaving abusive relationships or seeking help. By stamping passports with No Recourse to Public Funds and excluding migrant women from accessing the welfare safety net, the government is denying women and children safe refuge and trapping them at home with their abusers. We can and must do better.
In the last year you have shown leadership on this issue by providing safe accommodation to 200 women fleeing domestic abuse - including migrant women. You have also funded a limited number of temporary bed spaces for women with No Recourse to Public Funds by funding the Covid-19 Crisis Project run by Southall Black Sisters and Solace Women’s Aid, but this is nowhere near enough to meet demand. Many women remain trapped in abuse and without hope of protection and support. Even with the surge in domestic violence during lockdown, which has resulted in a 34% increase in calls to domestic violence hotlines, four in five migrant women are still turned away from refuges - often with children in tow.
We are asking you to go further by overriding the government’s inhumane policies to make London a Sanctuary City, just as Mayors across the US have done in response to Trump’s racist immigration enforcement actions. We are calling on you to ensure that migrant women in London will never be referred to the Home Office if they report their abuse to the police, and to guarantee each woman and her children:
- Safe accommodation
- £50 allowance per week, plus extra for children
- Access to wrap-around specialist support
- Legal advice and representation
Violence is not inevitable. Mayors always have a choice about whether and how to respond to the challenges facing the people and communities they represent.
We urge you to stand up to the government and to defy their inhumane hostile environment policies by ensuring that the most marginalised women are given the sanctuary and support to rebuild their lives. In doing so, you will be sending a message that London must be open and safe, for everyone.
Mandu Reid, Leader of the Women's Equality Party
Pragna Patel, Founder and Director of Southall Black Sisters
Baljit Banga, Executive Director, Imkaan
Rosanna Lewis & Ngozi Fulani, Sistah Space
Jasbindar Bhatoa, Senior Legal Officer, Rights of Women
Gisela Valle, Director, Latin American Women's Rights Service
Halaleh Taheri, Founder & Executive Director, Middle Eastern Women & Society Organisation-MEWSo
Gabriela Quevedo, Director for Advocacy and Influencing, Latin American Women’s Aid
Matt Hawkins, Co-Director, Compassion in Politics
Karen Ingala Smith, Chief Executive, NIA
Camille Rouse, Legal Advice Service Manager, London Black Women’s Project
* Sign the letter & listen to the audio version at the bottom of the page
*Added 24th Feb - Today, the Government announced that some people with learning disabilities would be added to the vaccine priority list. This is progress, but it is nowhere near enough. There are still tens of thousands of people across the country who face far higher risk of severe illness or death than the general population who will not receive priority access to the vaccine - demand action today.
Nadhim Zahawi, MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment) and Matt Hancock, MP and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
The last year has been an exceptionally hard one for those of us who are disabled or chronically ill. Many of us were given the instruction to shield, and many more made the choice to do so in order to protect our health and others’. We watched as lockdown eased and our friends, family and colleagues went back to work, out for dinner, and visited each other, and while some of us were able to enjoy the same freedoms, many were not. When the R rate started to rise and the obvious danger the country was in became clear, we locked down early and did not make plans for Christmas.
The one shining light at the end of a very dark tunnel was the vaccine. We knew that for once, even though there were business leaders and public personalities calling for disabled and chronically ill people to be locked up even longer and left behind because of our ‘lesser value’ to able-bodied people, we would be prioritised for the vaccine, which would mean our lives could finally start getting back to ‘normal’.
As the roll-out started, however, language around priority levels was suddenly amended, apparently omitting many of us entirely. Suddenly whole swathes of people with underlying chronic health conditions, many of whom have self-shielded all year due to far greater risk of death and side effects from the virus, appeared to have been removed from the vaccine priority list. This terminology change caused real anxiety and confusion to those self-shielding, adding the worry that despite the severity of their conditions and their vulnerability to the virus, they would be made to wait behind those who are at far less risk.
A new concern began to emerge as the roll-out progressed and those shielding began to receive their invitations: many shielders struggled to get on the approved list. The gaps in the system are huge and widely reported, with some rare conditions ignored and those whose GP records say something different from their hospital records being falsely marked down as low priority. Many began to worry that they would be denied vaccines because of the original, flawed system for shielding and found that there was absolutely no-one to call if they needed clarity or felt that a mistake had been made. We heard from people who were being told one thing by their specialists and the opposite by their GP, who advised them to simply wait and see if they received a letter. With 19% of working adults having a disability, there are millions of people who have been left in the dark about their vaccination status. As GP surgeries work round the clock to vaccinate their patients, many of us have been left unable to get through to a doctor. When we do, we are chastised for seeking clarity.
The lack of clear information for those people with rare conditions or allergies has also led to many people being unsure whether a particular vaccine will be safe for them, or how to opt out of the Pfizer vaccine which has caused some anaphylactic reactions. Others undergoing regular treatment or taking specific medication have been told that they may not do so for a period after being vaccinated, and so require enough warning between invitation and vaccination for contingency planning, so this treatment gap does not lead to an otherwise inevitable decline in health and a drastic increase in symptoms. While we appreciate that the speed of the roll-out is fantastic, the lack of time to plan is a barrier to those on treatment waiting lists.
Disabled and chronically ill people are being asked to put absolute trust in a system which left many of us locked inside without support in the early stages of the virus, which issued illegal blanket DNRs to learning-disabled people with no clinical justification and which at every stage has forgotten and omitted many of us whose lives are at greatest risk of the virus. The extraordinary speed of the UK’s vaccination programme has been fantastic - but we must not allow the system to fail those who need it the most.
Therefore we ask you to implement some key policies to make sure that those of us who are vulnerable, either through disability or chronic illness, will not be left behind yet again:
- Provide clear, easily accessible guidance on what process to follow if you have been told to shield by a medical professional (category 4) but are not on the official shielding list.
- Commit to providing financial, practical and employment support to all those shielding, including the almost 2 million shielders added to the list on the 16th February.
- Set up a dedicated number or website where those who have concerns about their condition and the potential risks of the vaccine can find relevant information that is accessible and updated regularly with new findings.
- Guarantee that those with underlying health conditions that are not considered ‘severe’ will be vaccinated ahead of the general public. This category would include anyone who is invited to have a flu jab due to their condition, as initially communicated, as well as those with a serious mental illness, those with mild to moderate learning disabilities, and anyone receiving social care.
- Provide facilities for all vaccinations offered to disabled or chronically ill people to be carried out close to home, if needed. It is simply not possible for many to travel miles to a mass vaccination centre, often on public transport, and stand in line as they wait.
We also ask that as the vaccine is rolled out, disabled people are included in the planning and communication of each phase. It is clear that we have not been considered due to a real lack of any disabled people in decision-making positions.
Freya Papworth, Co-Chair of the Women’s Equality Party Disability and Long Term Health Conditions Caucus
Amanda Carter-Philpott, Co-Chair of the Women’s Equality Party Disability and Long Term Health Conditions Caucus
Dr Hannah Barham-Brown, Deputy Leader of the Women's Equality Party and Committee Member of the Disability and Long Term Health Conditions Caucus
Dr Sarabajaya Kumar, GLA Women's Equality Party Candidate and Committee Member of the Women’s Equality Party Disability and Long Term Health Conditions Caucus
Helen Berrie, Secretary of the Disability and Long Term Health Conditions Caucus
Alison Smith, Secretary to the Women's Equality Steering Committee and Committee Member of the Women's Equality Party Disability and Long Term Health Conditions Caucus
Rebecca Manson Jones, GLA Women's Equality Party Candidate and Equal Health Spokesperson for the Women's Equality Party
Baroness Jane Campbell, disability equality and human rights campaigner and crossbench member of the House of Lords
Sophie Christiansen CBE, Paralympic Equestrian Gold Medalist and disability campaigner
Ann Bates OBE, former advisor to the Department for Transport
Sue Groves MBE, disability rights campaigner
Robin Christopherson MBE, Head of Digital Inclusion, AbilityNet
Andrew Miller MBE, Co-founder, UK Disability Arts Alliance #WeShallNotBeRemoved
Samantha Renke, broadcaster and disability campaigner
Ruth Madeley, actor and disability campaigner
Rosie Jones, comedian
Athena Stevens, Olivier-nominated actor and playwright
Dr Frances Ryan, journalist
Rachel Charlton-Dailey, journalist
Tracey Lazard, CEO, Inclusion London
Linda Burnip, Co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts
Kirsty Hoyle, CEO, Transport for All
Katie Pennick, disability activist and Campaigns Lead, Transport for All
Maria Grazia Zedda, Accessibility Lead, HS2
Anthony Jennings, Campaign for Level Boarding
Sunil Rodger, Campaign for Level Boarding
Chris Stapleton, Campaign for Level Boarding
Doug Paulley, disability activist
Ginny Butcher, disability activist
Sarah Rennie, activist and lawyer
Shani Dhanda, disability specialist and speaker
Shona Louise, disability and theatre blogger
Jessica Kellgren-Fozard, social media personality
Cathy Kamara, social media personality
Joe Wells, comedian
Carrie-Ann Lightley, disability blogger
Heather Lacey, disability rights activist, D&I writer, speaker and consultant
Liz Devlin, disability campaigner
David Alexander Williamson, sportsperson and fundraiser
Dr. Katherine Deane, Senior Lecturer in Healthcare Research, University of East Anglia
Rick Hulse, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, The National Association for Bikers with a Disability
Marian Nicholson, The Shingles Support Society
Ernie Boddington, Chair of MKCIL
Tim Davies, CEO of Camphill Communities Milton Keynes
Cathy Maker, Chief Executive of RUILS
Mandu Reid, Leader of the Women's Equality Party
Helen Pankhurst, Convenor, Centenary Action Group
Clare Walton, CEO Community Action MK
Mark Fowles, MD, Nottingham City Transport
Richard Solly, Diversity Officer, TVP
Alexa Wilkinson, Chair, Works For Us
Marion Cole, CEO, Works For Us
Sue Payne, Secretary, Soroptimist International MK
Gillian Bryan, MK Fawcett Society
Jane Whild, MK WEP Branch Leader
* N.B. We appreciate that key workers such as those within the NHS, carers, supermarket workers and refuse collectors are at a higher risk due to their occupation and so do not consider these people to be in the ‘general public’ category.
Dear Sadiq Khan,
Despite the fact that streets are emptier and many public spaces are closed, street harassment is still a serious problem. I am calling on you as Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner of London to ensure that women and girls can enjoy their daily exercise and move around our great city free from the fear or threat of violence or abuse.
One in five women and girls in the UK experienced street harassment during lockdown. This figure is far worse in London; more than half of women surveyed by Catcalls of London said street harassment got worse during the lockdowns, and 62% feared for their safety. Our branch in Lambeth conducted their own survey, and found that the most common forms of street harassment were catcalling, wolf whistling or unwanted comments, followed by unwanted physical contact, being followed, or sexual gestures. Respondents also said photos had been taken of them without consent, and perpetrators had even masturbated in front of them.
London remains the worst city in the UK for street harassment and harassment on public transport. In 2016, ActionAid found that nationally, 36% of women feel at risk of harassment from public transport, but that rises to 51% for women living in London. Four years later those numbers have not changed; more than half of women experienced sexual harassment whilst using public transport in 2020, but only 2% felt able to report it.
On International Women’s Day last year, you called for misogyny to be made a hate crime. Yet women are in the same position as they were in when you first became Mayor. We cannot simply wait for Central Government to change the law, and it is within your power to do something about this. Moving more Londoners to walking and cycling is a vital part of fighting Covid and making our city greener, but you cannot ask more women to use our streets without doing anything to ensure they feel safe to do so.
I am calling on you as a ‘Proud Feminist’ to fulfil your promise to make London a beacon of freedom and equality for women and girls, by developing a London-wide strategy to end street harassment and abuse on the transport network, including a public education campaign. I stand ready to work with you to make our streets and transport network safe for all women and girls.
Mandu Reid, Leader of the Women’s Equality Party and candidate for Mayor of London
Dear Rt Hon Gavin Williamson MP,
Re: Parents and Early Years workers are at breaking point
We are writing as parents, Early Years workers, and organisations and individuals committed to progress - and we do so to sound the alarm. Parents and Early Years providers are at breaking point, and unless the government acts now women’s unemployment will continue to soar - deepening and lengthening the economic crisis for everyone. This will affect mothers on the lowest incomes most acutely, who are nine times more likely to lose their jobs as a result of the latest school closures and lockdown.
The Prime Minister announced recently that Early Years settings should remain open to everyone, but that is simply not possible without urgent support. Already many Early Years settings have closed their doors, either temporarily or permanently, because of funding cuts, lack of testing and staff shortages. Together with school closures, that means parents - especially single parents and mothers - are in the impossible position of trying to juggle work, childcare and homeschooling. Since March last year parents have been asked to homeschool their children for 110 working days. The result is that women are more likely to quit their jobs or be made redundant, and children are being left behind.
Data from your department suggests that attendance at Early Years settings has almost halved as parents have been told to stay home, and Ofsted has reported that a third of nurseries fear they will permanently close due to the impacts of COVID-19. On top of that, the TUC reported last week that 71% of working mothers have been denied their request to be furloughed. Unless you act now, the Early Years sector will completely collapse and more and more women will lose their jobs.
Will you commit to five measures to keep childcare and parents afloat and help stop the spread of the virus?
- A legal right to shared furlough or guaranteed Self-Employment Income Support for all parents. Currently, parents only have the right to request furloughing and 75% have been refused.
- Early Years and school staff to be prioritised in the next round of vaccines so that they can reopen safely as soon as possible.
- Increase child benefits to £50 per child and maintain the £20-a-week uplift in universal credit. With children at home, household bills are mounting and forcing families into poverty.
- Ten days extra paid annual leave for all parents and 20 days for single parents to help them manage caring responsibilities without the risk of redundancy.
- A bailout for nurseries to stop them closing permanently.
People want to do whatever it takes to keep our communities safe, but they are being pushed to breaking point. Together, these five measures will help reduce the risk of transmission, give our essential workers the support they need and deserve, and protect families so that they have jobs and childcare to return to when it is safe to do so. That is something we can all support and we ask that you do too.
Leader of the Women’s Equality Party
* WE are homeschooling the Government on the realities of childcare. Join in here.
Add your signature now
A care-led recovery to the Covid-19 crisis is the best way to create jobs, protect the planet, promote equality, and build a more resilient and fairer economy.
That is why WE are joining forces with Build Back Better to make sure we Build Back Equal. We are campaigning to apply pressure to stop the government ignoring women with its recovery plan and failing to deliver for them.
Over the coming months we will be working together and with other organisations to develop a radical recovery plan that puts women first and tackles inequality head on.
You can sign up below to take part, or to join out build back equal organiser training programme - which will help to set you up to campaign for change.Become a volunteer
Sign to protect reproductive rights during lockdown
The UK government has finally approved over the remote medical abortion services, enabling those seeking pills for early abortions in England and Wales to stay at home during the Covid-19 crisis. But this service has not been extended to Northern Ireland, where abortions are now legal but services are unable to meet the demand. So women in Northern Ireland are being forced to risk their health by travelling hundreds of miles to England in order to get abortion pills that could easily prescribed over the phone.
Reproductive rights are human rights and access to free, safe and legal abortions should not depend on where you live or whether you can leave your home.
Ensuring safe and straightforward access to abortion services will ease the strain on the NHS and should be an essential part of the Government’s Corona virus response. Yet our government still requires women to seek permission from two doctors to have an abortion.
WE are calling for:
- Telemedical abortion services to be introduced in Northern Ireland
- The requirement for two doctors to give permission for women to access abortions to be removed
These measures will protect women’s reproductive rights, ensure that all women can access abortions without having to leave their home, and free up healthcare professionals to focus on responding to the pandemic.
Sign our petition today to call for urgent action.
The number of women killed by their partners are increasing. Reporting is increasing but conviction rates for rape and sexual assault are falling. Politicians have failed women time and again when it comes to violence abuse - and is it any wonder when they can’t even tackle violence and abuse in their own backyard.
In the last two years over 20 politicians have been accused of violence or harassment. Not one of them has been removed from office.
As long as lawmakers are allowed to act with impunity we cannot hope to create a more equal future or one that is free from violence. So six weeks ago a team of campaigners and survivors of male violence announce that they would be standing as Women’s Equality Party parliamentary candidates - challenging Parliament's culture of impunity at the ballot box.
Since that announcement four out of the five MPs we targeted have stood down and the Liberal Democrats have announced that they will be adopting our key policies for tackling violence - these are huge successes, and we are continuing to campaign in Bury South, Luton North and Dover to have even more impact during this General Election.