What are the parties offering women at the 2017 Election?

Come and question the candidates at our hustings meeting:logo

Coventry Women’s Voices Hustings 

Tuesday 16 May, 7-9pm

Committee room 3, Council House

The meeting is free but please email CoventryWomen@gmail.com to confirm a place

There is an event page on Facebook for the hustings at: https://www.facebook.com/events/1252688471515855/

The deadline for registering to vote in the General Election is 22nd May. If you, or anyone you know, is not yet registered, you can register here: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

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In or out of Europe: what does it mean for women?

Coventry Women’s Voices, Coventry Women’s Networking Group (WNG) and Coventry Feminists invite you to:referendum pic 1

Date and time: Tuesday 21st June 2016, 7pm – 9pm

Venue: Coventry Council House – Diamond Rooms 1 & 2

Earl Street, Coventry CV1 5RR

The referendum to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union will be held on Thursday 23rd June 2016.

Come and join us as we talk about what the vote will mean for women.


Dr Patrycja Rozbicka, Lecturer in Politics and International Relations (Chair)

Jane Nellist, Secretary of Coventry TUC

(in favour of leaving the European Union)

Councillor Jayne Innes, Cabinet Member for Public Services

(in favour of remaining in the European Union)

Whether you know how you will be voting, are still deciding or don’t feel you know enough to make up your mind please join us!

If you have a question but don’t want to speak at the meeting you can email it to us at maryann@easynet.co.uk and we will ask it on your behalf.

referendum pic 2

A copy of the flyer can be downloaded here: euro referendum flyer v3

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Community and Resistance Seminar Series

Centre for Communities and Social Justice (CCSJ) and Black and Minority Ethnic Staff Network

Black History Month

Thursday 30th October

 12.30 -2.30pm

Frederick Lanchester Building, Room 209

Let’s talk about Black Men

 In the UK there is a rich tradition of community, cultural and political activism within Black communities around issues associated with mental health, criminal justice and housing. This has produced a range of campaigns and initiatives geared toward meeting people’s immediate needs, changing how services respond to the needs of Black communities and exposing injustice, exploitation and prejudice.

In the second of “Community and Resistance” seminar series, the focus is on Black men’s experiences of mental health, criminal justice and housing.

The seminar brings together community-oriented researchers within the academy. A key focus of the seminar is to share how researching as ‘insiders’ provides valuable insights about the realities of the lives of Black communities, limitations of institutional responses and ways of working toward change.

Speakers at the event are:

Paul Grant, University of Wolverhampton – From resilience to rebellion: mental health, communities and austerity

Geraldine Brown, Coventry University – It’s my home: Tenancy failure amongst Black men

Dr Martin Glynn, University of Wolverhampton – Black men, Invisibility and Crime: Towards a Critical Race Theory of Desistance

There is no charge to attend the seminar, refreshments will be provided and it is open to all

To reserve a place please email l.carson@coventry.ac.uk

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Benefit sanctions make it harder for Coventry people to find work: new report finds

MEDIA RELEASE – 13/10/2014 For immediate release

For more information please contact Daksha Piparia 02476 252019 or Janet Gurney on 02476 253174

Benefit sanctions make it harder for Coventry people to find work: new report finds

Benefit sanctions are making it harder for vulnerable people in Coventry to find work according to a new report published today by Coventry Law Centre, Coventry Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Coventry Women’s Voices and the Centre for Human Rights in Practice at the University of Warwick.

The report is based on a survey of people who have been sanctioned (had their benefits stopped) in Coventry. It found that far from encouraging people into work, in too many cases the sanctions process actually made job seeking harder. Lack of money made it difficult for people to afford travel to interviews, make telephone calls or access a computer to look for work.

In addition benefit sanctions are leaving families in Coventry with severe financial problems – sometimes with no money for food, rent or utility bills, with increased debt and in some cases at risk of homelessness. This is leading to an increase in stress, depression and other mental health issues. Both these practical and psychological problems reduce the time available for job seeking.

The report also highlighted serious problems with the application of the sanctions process which included:
• Sanctions being imposed on vulnerable people with no account being taken of their difficulties.
• Claimants being given appointment times or required to take part in training or work programmes that take no account of caring or other responsibilities or health needs.
• Some claimants being set requirements for job search that are not possible for them to complete – for example as a result of learning difficulties or difficulties with written or spoken English.
• Sanctions that have been wrongly applied or applied for very minor errors
• Sanctions that have been applied with no warning, with no information given about the reason for sanction, the length of sanction or right to appeal.

Janet Gurney, Case worker at Coventry Law Centre, which has an 80% success rate for appeals in sanctions cases said:
‘In too many cases sanctions are wrongly applied and are causing untold misery. The consequence of this is that some of the most vulnerable people, far from being helped by the job centre are having their situation made worse. We have repeatedly raised our concerns with the Job Centre and are looking forward to their response.

People needing advice and support in dealing with a benefit sanction, can call the Benefit Sanction Hotline, run by Coventry Law Centre on 02476 253160, between 11.00am and 2.00pm Monday to Friday.

The findings of the report have been presented to the City Council’s Scrutiny Co-ordination Committee on the 8th October. Responding to the report, Committee Chair, Cllr Skipper said:

“This important report raises very serious concerns about the impact of sanctions on Coventry people. Not only are local families being left dependent on the food bank to eat but the voluntary and public services are facing increasing demand as a consequence.
We will be raising the findings of the report with the Council Cabinet and will continue to press the DWP for urgent improvements in their dealings with people seeking work.”

Cllr Ken Taylor, a member of the Scrutiny Co-ordination Committee said

“It’s pleasing that in Coventry we have a commitment from the DWP to address the findings of this survey. I’m personally very keen for this to be done as soon as possible so we can see locally what actions are being taken to respond to the findings.”

A full copy of the report including case studies is available here. To arrange an interview with someone who has been affected by benefit sanctions contact Daksha Piparia (Coventry CAB) 07966 390296 or Janet Gurney (Coventry Law Centre) on 02476 253174

Coventry Citizen’s Advice Bureau is part of a national network that provides free, independent, confidential and impartial advice.
Coventry Citizens Advice Bureau helps around 14,000 people deal with more than 24,000 issues a year. Primarily, the role of the bureau is to advise people on their rights -this can include employment, consumer, housing or relationship, but in the current climate, is largely dominated by debt and benefits related enquiries. Our twin aim is to gather evidence and to lobby for changes in policy in order to benefit the wider community.

Coventry Law Centre is an independent specialist legal advice agency employing solicitors. It offers free advice and representation in Debt, Discrimination, Employment Family, Health and Community Care, Housing, Immigration and Asylum, Public Law and Welfare Benefits.
Each year it represents over 500 people at Welfare Benefits tribunals. During this last year that number rose to over 1200 appeals. We use the law to seek change for the community.
Coventry Women’s Voices is an independent network of women’s organisations, trade unions, organisations providing services to women and individual women who have come together to make sure women’s voices are heard when policy is made in Coventry.

The Centre for Human Rights in Practice is situated in the School of Law at the University of Warwick. It provides a focus for academics, students, practitioners and activists who wish to advance the study and promotion of human rights at local, national and international levels.

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Can you help make Reclaim the Night 2015 a success?

Reclaim the Night is a women-led event fighting for the right of all women to be out on the street and in public spaces without fear or threat of violence.

Last year women in Coventry organised the first Reclaim the Night march in the city for 30 years. The event was a great success – and we hope to make next year’s march bigger and better.

Can you join us?

Reclaim the Night will take place on the evening of Saturday 7th March 2015 in Coventry City Centre. The march will be open to all women, and will be followed by a rally, speakers, performances and a party.

Are you a woman who cares about ending violence and the threat of violence for all women?

We want you!

We would love for you to come to our planning meeting and contribute to organising and shaping this year’s march. Our next meeting will take place on Thursday 2 October at 6.15 pm in the Jaguar Building, Gosford Street, Coventry University.*

At this meeting we will be setting up groups to work on different parts of the event – publicity, after party, rally, speaker invitations and so on. You could volunteer to organise or lead one of these working groups or just get involved in the ones which interest you.

If you don’t have the time on a regular basis but still want to get involved we also need women who can help with a range of tasks – from designing and distributing flyers to organising and contacting speakers, painting banners, stewarding or even performing on the night – most of all we need women who want to be a part of this project to reclaim the night!

Even if you can only offer a few hours we would be very grateful. Don’t worry if you have never been involved in anything like this before – we are a friendly group and you would be made very welcome.

We hope to see you there.

Please contact: reclaimthenightcoventry@gmail.com to let us know if you can attend.

If you have any questions, if you want to stay up to date with the project or if you can’t make that time but would still like to be involved then please drop us a quick email and we will add you to our mailing list and let you know what we are up to and answer any questions you may have.


*The Jaguar building is on Gosford Street, opposite the William Morris building. Gosford Street continues from Jordan Well as you come out of Coventry and under the ring road between junctions 3 and 4. It is on the same side of the road as the Herbert Gallery, just after the ring road fly over. See the map here http://www.coventry.ac.uk/

The jaguar building requires a card to enter the building but we will have someone on reception to welcome you between 5.45-6.15 and if you are running late just let us know via email/on 07565652714 so we can make sure to welcome you.


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Strengthening links between academia, statutory agencies and the third sector: A half day workshop for those who believe in collaboration and co-operation across the social policy spectrum.

You are invited to a free half day event to bring together voluntary and statutory organisations from Coventry with academics from the University of Warwick and Coventry University to discuss ways in which we might work more closely together, build relationships and generate ideas for new projects.

Date: Wednesday 29 October 2014

Time: 1.30 pm – 5 pm

Venue: Coventry Central Hall, Warwick Lane, Coventry, CV1 2HA

How can organisations link with researchers to evidence what they do?

How can we best share skills that would benefit each other?

How can students and organisations benefit from student work placements?

How can research be more effectively used to influence practice and policy?

The workshop is aimed at academics and students at both universities, and at Coventry statutory and third sector organisations interested in collaborating on research, work placements or other joint projects.

There are already a number of successful formal and informal partnerships between organisations in Coventry and faculty and students at both universities. However, there can be barriers to potential projects, such as problems with timing, expectations, understanding each other’s cultures and ways of working.

This informal networking workshop will provide an opportunity for us to learn about each other’s research needs and interests as well as find out more about different ways of working, timing of research projects and so on.

This workshop is free, but advance registration is essential. Light mid-afternoon refreshments will be provided.

To register please click here.

You can find out more about the workshop here.



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THE PRICE OF HONOUR: Exploring the Issues of Sexual Violence within South Asian Communities in Coventry


CRASAC NewIn February of this year, Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (CRASAC) conducted a research project aimed at understanding the discrepancy between the help South Asian women and girls were asking them for within community settings in Coventry, and the relatively few who went on to access their main support services.

The resulting report, which will be launched on Tuesday 23rd September 2014, determines the key challenges and possibilities in effecting change and enabling South Asian victims and survivors of sexual violence and abuse in Coventry to get the support, protection and justice they deserve.

The report launch will take place between 9am and 12.30 pm at St Peter’s Centre, Charles Street, Coventry, CV1 5NP.

In the wake of the Rotherham revelations, the recent high profile cases evidencing widespread sexual exploitation of women and girls and the culture of victim blaming  towards women and girls in the wider community, this research takes on a heightened relevance to the importance of CRASAC’s work in Coventry and the implications across the entire UK.

In consultation with local community members and religious leaders as well as South Asian victims and survivors of sexual violence and abuse in Coventry, CRASAC’s research makes it clear that in the absence of informed debate, those suffering very real traumatising abuse are doing so in unsupported silence, their hurt unspoken and out of sight.  As one client stated:

“They were keen to protect our family’s reputation and forced me to keep it secret.   Now I am unable to take the burden of guilt and shame.”

A copy of the flyer for the launch event can be downloaded here: The Price of Honour flyer final.  To book a place or for further information please email admin@crasac.org.uk.

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Coventry Family Information Service

Coventry Family Information Service is a Government initiative that works under Section 12 of the Children Act 2006, ‘Duty to Provide Information’.

They are a sign-posting service, providing information to parents/families regarding childcare and education, activities, support groups, counselling, funding as in 2, 3 and 4 year Government entitlement, benefits and much more.

For people with little command of the English language, that need help with form filling, benefit and housing information, they are able to sign post to organisations who can provide support.

Further information on the services they provide can be found on their website at http://coventry.fsd.org.uk/kb5/coventry/fsd/home.page or downloaded in the PDF’s attached, here: FIS Parents and carers leaflet and here: 2 year old funding leaflet.

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Trojan Horse: Ofsted & the media fall short on gender

fem times logoBy Coventry Women’s Voices member, Kindy Sandhu – Originally published at Feminist Times.

Following the ‘Trojan Horse’ allegations of an Islamic extremist plot in British schools, the press has failed to focus on the fact that Ofsted inspections in fact unearthed findings about the way gender inequality can pervade a school culture. The report describes a culture of fear and intimidation within some of the schools, with some female staff members saying they feel intimidated by male members of the school and are treated unfairly because of their gender. Female Genital Mutilation and forced marriage are not being adequately addressed, and there has been opposition to mixed-gender swimming lessons.

Furthermore, children are being badly prepared for life in modern Britain. In some specific cases girls are discouraged from conversing with boys, undertaking extra circular activities and receive religious education separately from boys. The recommendations emphasise the need for schools to “carry out their statutory responsibility for safeguarding all children”, but fall short of ensuring that there is gender equality.

Where is the debate about the implications for gender equality? The narrative behind separation of girls and boys (in religious education, in swimming, etc.) is that girls are considered to be less equal to boys. Boys and girls are taught different subject material in religious and personal development lessons. If teachers expect certain modes of behaviour from girls – for example discouraging them from talking to boys – and if these attitudes underpin the social values of the teachers and parents alike, what actions can schools, governors, local authorities and the Government take to ensure that gender inequality is not promoted and that boys and girls are being prepared for life in modern Britain?

During the inspections and subsequent storm, I have been asking myself if we really have drawn back the curtain that hides the truth between the expectations of boys over girls. The initial claim was about an alleged Muslim plot to take over these schools; although this was not found to be the case in the Ofsted inspections, the subsequent media storm makes it difficult to separate out the Ofsted inspection, Islamic extremism and these schools.

The ensuing furore and the fallout between Theresa May and Michael Gove about the leaking of a private letter, as well as accusations and counter accusations over who is to blame for what  happened in Birmingham, has meant that the real issues remain under the radar. Add to this the fact that the majority of contributors to news and comments in the national media are men – specifically white men – and it comes as no surprise that the black feminist discourse around the findings and concerns for girls in schools is being missed.

But gender inequality is not just an issue for these schools in Birmingham; the control of girls’ behaviour, particularly when there is a match in attitudes between teachers and parents, has been going on for decades and this is why a feminist perspective is needed.

I attended a mainstream state school not very far from the schools in Birmingham. Not only did I have to deal with overtly racist teachers but I also had to contend with teachers who, though they did not display racism openly, nevertheless had low expectations of me ingrained in their stereotypical view, despite my academic ability. But the biggest challenge I faced on a daily basis was controlling my behaviour to avoid the attention of a male Sikh teacher.

This teacher took it as his ‘duty’ to ensure that Sikh girls ‘behaved’ according to his values and beliefs, which mirrored that of many Sikh parents. He did not consider it an inconvenience, let alone an infringement of child protection, to visit the girls’ homes after school and relay in detail to parents if he had seen or heard their daughter talking to boys, wearing skirts, make-up, etc.  This was not a Sikh school, nor indeed a school with a predominantly Sikh or Asian population, in the same way the schools in the Trojan Horse affair were not faith schools. However this teacher was able to monitor our behaviour and had the authority of the local Asian parental population to exercise his power over us as Sikh girl pupils.

What I was left with was a sense of fear. I did not feel safe at school. I did not feel I could go to another teacher and explain my fears. I did not have the confidence or autonomy to do this. I battled with feelings of ‘letting my parents down’, and the ‘whistleblowing’ of a teacher who not only was a professional in the school but also enjoyed a certain status within the community. I would not have been heard nor supported by any authority figure, be it my parents or the white teachers in the school.

This teacher harassed and behaved in a sexist manner towards me within the classroom. I was always careful to abide by his expectations of personal conduct at school. The last thing I wanted was for him to inform my parents of any perceived misdemeanours, because a very real consequence was that I could lose out on further education and be forced in to an early marriage.

Some of the findings of the Ofsted inspection mirror my own experiences as a Sikh girl pupil in a state school. The findings refer to senior leaders within the school feeling intimidated and fearful. Then what, might one ask, are girls experiencing? Those girls who are expected to behave in a certain way, dictated by the social values of governors and parents, which may be at odds with what the girls themselves would like? The girls and their views have been invisible in all the discussions in the media and in the narrative of an Islamic extremist plot.

If the norm of conduct within a school is that girls’ position in relation to boys is enforced through implicit rules and modes of behaviour, then it seems unlikely that the gendered nature of control of girls will be addressed. Is it therefore surprising that gendered violence, such as female genital mutilation or forced marriage, is not being adequately addressed? Tackling gender inequality and addressing violence against women and girls go hand-in-hand. The two need to be addressed together.

The equalities issue is not being caught in the net of this Islam extremism fishing expedition.  That’s a huge cost and a missed opportunity to society. Where are we talking about the actions and the culture in schools that perpetuates a mindset that girls must behave in a certain way, under the guise of faith – and, more importantly, shaping their own thinking and expectations for the future? What if parents collude in the control of their daughters? How are we bringing up these girls to participate and contribute to society as working adults, as positive role models, and as agents of cultural change?

Kalwinder Sandhu is a freelance consultant, researcher and writer and a local feminist activist in Coventry. Follow her @KindySandhu.

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Bea Campbell – ‘The End of Equality’

Join Coventry Women’s Voices  &  Coventry University for a free talk with  leading  feminist, Beatrix Campbell about her new book ‘The End of Equality’.

The event will take place on 19th June 2014 at 5.30 pm, Jaguar Building, Gosford Street, Coventry University

This event is free and open to all but booking is essential. Please email maryann@maryannstephenson.co.uk to book your place. Please forward to anyone you think might be interested. A flyer can be downloaded, here: Bea Campbell flyer

The  Jaguar  building  is  on  Gosford  Street,  which continues from Jordan Well as you come out of Coventry and under the ring road. It is on the same side of the road as the Herbert Gallery, just after the ring road fly over.

Posted in Equality and Diversity, Gender Equality, Uncategorized, Violence Against Women and Girls | Tagged | Leave a comment