Posted on March 22nd 2018
March 8th was International Women's Day. We sent one of our JCWI communications interns, Agonita Qerimi to tell us all about it and here is her report.
#AllWomenCount – Celebrating International Women’s Day
My mother immigrated to the UK in 1996, she made the long journey to London to escape war in Kosovo. I have always been inspired by her bravery to seek a better life for her family out of desperation. All refugee and migrant women are equal and should have access to the same rights.
On the 8th March in celebration of International Women’s Day the #AllWomenCount event brought together women from all walks of life to lobby Parliament and call for Safety, Dignity and Liberty for refugee and migrant women. It was incredible to see so many charities from all over Britain supporting this cause. I represented the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, I was struck by how incredible this event was in exposing personal accounts of different circumstances in which refugee and migrant women have been failed by British law.
"Safety is a right, not a privilege, all women count" was the opening sentence by Sandhya from Safety4Sisters. Women without citizenship who experience violence do not have the same rights as all women when they report crimes, a speaker from Step Up Migrant Women explained of her horror when she reported her husband for domestic violence and instead she was treated as a criminal because she did not have citizenship. Her husband was not charged for his offences and instead was given the right to be the legal guardian for their daughter, as she faced deportation. A line she uttered that stuck with me was, "Migrant women need to be believed as a victim and supported by the police and law, above the passport that they hold." There are many other women in a similar position that feel they cannot speak out against their attacker, in fear of being sent to a detention centre or deported. This hostility needs to stop now.
Dignity for all women was also addressed; to have equal access to education, healthcare, employment and housing. This should not even be questioned yet it is denied by the UK government if you do not have the appropriate citizenship. A speaker from UNHCR that immigrated from the Syria, spoke of her experience being rejected from the UK education system twice because of her citizenship. All she wanted to do was study. She was determined and is now an Engineering student.
Liberty is a fundamental human right yet 4,000 asylum-seeking and migrant women are imprisoned every year. A speaker from WASP Manchester who was detained in Yarl’s Wood spoke of her traumatic experience that in turn impacted her physical and mental health, she felt like a criminal and urged for Yarl’s Wood to be shut down. At this point the whole room united in chanting #ShutItDown and #SetHerFree. WASP Manchester members from all around the world displayed an incredible singing and acting performance in each of their languages, to expose their shared experience in Yarl’s Wood.
The event ended with all women from different countries, races, religions, ages hugging and urging to not give up in securing Safety, Dignity and Liberty for all refugee and migrant women!
Stay in touch with the All Women Count partnership by following their website on www.allwomencount.co.uk for updates on campaigns that you can get involved with, to ensure that all women’s voices are heard.