Coventry Women’s Voice’s “Kindy” talks spending cuts on BBC WM Chatback

Coventry Womens Voices member and lead author of the report “Layers of Inequality: A human rights and equality impact assessment of the public spending cuts on BAME women in Coventry” , Kalwinder Sandhu (or better known as Kindy by Coventry Women’s Voices members), was interviewed on Radio West Midlands Chatback show on Sunday 10 November.

Joe Aldred and Nikki Tapper present the Chatback show where stories relating to African Caribbean communities in the West Midlands are presented.  Kindy was joined by Marcia Lewinson, CEO of Women Acting in Today’s Society, a charity based in Birmingham to support women who experience domestic violence and provide education, support and advocacy.

You can listen to a recording of the Podcast by clicking on the link below:

Chatback 10th November 2013

Marcia strongly endorsed Layers of Inequality stating ‘It’s a very important piece of work.”

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Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (CRASAC) and Coventry City Council have produced a very powerful new video called #Rape is Rape in Any Language.  The campaign has been supported by Coventry Bears Rugby League Team.


If you have been affected by this video and want to talk to someone in confidence, please call CRASAC on 024 7627 7777.

Coventry Women’s Voices would like to say a very many congratulations to both CRASAC and the Council for this fabulous piece of work.

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Rape is Rape in any language

*Trigger Warning*

Coventry City Council and Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (CRASAC), supported by West Midlands Police are launching a ground-breaking project in Coventry; focusing on survivor’s needs and the education of others in order to understand the trauma that rape and sexual abuse inflicts on victims.

The project includes the development of a DVD called ‘Rape is Rape in any language’.

The first showing will take place at the launch  on :

Thursday 7th November

Theatre Absolute Shop Front

38, City Arcade


CV1 3HW.

Two sessions are being held: 2.30pm – 4.00pm or 6.00pm – 7.30pm.

Councillor Ann Lucas, Leader of Coventry City Council and Chair of Coventry Sexual Violence and Exploitation Strategic Partnership, will formally welcome everyone to the event.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to hear a survivor’s story.  Actors who performed in the DVD will also be explaining why they got involved.

The campaign has been supported by Coventry Bears Rugby League Team.  One of their players who appeared in the film will also be present and will explain why he personally got involved and why the team believe it is important to support the campaign.

To book your place, email: with your preferred session.

Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

A copy of the invitation can be downloaded here: Rape is Rape is any language


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Are the spending cuts disproportionately impacting on women in the BME community?

Author: Kalwinder Sandhu (CWV Board Member)

Listening to Malala Yousafzai  on the radio, I was struck by a number of things.  Firstly how eloquent and well thought out her arguments were.  This young woman has shown such courage to be defiant against those who sought to limit her right to an education and her own life.

I also thought about what an excellent role model she is for young BME women in particular.  There aren’t many role models that today’s female BME teenagers can look up to outside of the TV/film, music industry.

But many contradictions surfaced when I thought about the portrayal of this story and the narrative that we as a nation, as a society, as a country believe in education for all and that young women here have access to education that is out of bounds for many young women in Pakistan.

Yes this country has provided a safe haven for Malala and her family, she has an education that she is entitled to and, the freedom to express her views. These are all virtues of the society we live in.  However my recent research for Coventry Womens’ Voices found evidence suggesting that the reality of the barriers many BME women face accessing education contradicts the narrative of a society in which education is available to all.


The most crushing point I reached when I did this study was when one woman said, to the agreement of others in the room:


“My husband has lost his job and we don’t have much money and so we are only thinking about now sending our son to university and not our daughter.


This may seem extreme but the reality facing many low income households is that when money is tight investing in education, especially a girl’s education, is less of a priority.  There have been spending cuts that have affected young women in many ways.


The Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) which supported young people aged over 16 in education has been replaced by a Bursary Fund and the funding has been cut from £560 million to £180 million. An Equality Impact Assessment of EMA carried out in 2009 showed that EMA had a particularly positive impact on BAME girls and young women.[1]


The Youth Cohort Study, which sampled respondents in receipt of EMA, indicated that the 17/18 year olds most likely to have taken up EMA were:[2]

• Minority ethnic groups, particularly Bangladeshi and Pakistani.

• Members of ‘lower’ socio-economic groups.

• Those who received free school meals while at school

• Those whose parents are less well educated.

• Students who are living with only one parent.


I focussed on EMA because of education but it is only one of a number of cuts families are facing:  benefits cap, Non-dependents deductions, cuts to tax credits, are just some that  are all hitting families hard. By the Government’s own admission ‘of the households likely to be affected by the cap approximately 40% will contain somebody who is from an ethnic minority’.2



We don’t know what the full combined financial impact is yet as a result of the increase in university fees, job losses, cuts to benefits and the rising cost of living. Indeed many of the discussions around welfare reform focus on the financial loss. We don’t yet know what the societal and human costs will be as a result of the spending cuts.  The above quote may be a warning to our society that we may pay a heavy price in the future if girls and young women don’t access their full potential when it comes to education in the UK.

[1] Department for Education (2009) “Equality Impact Assessment: Education Maintenance Allowance.” p.5-6 Available online at

[2] 2011, Bolton, S. (2011) “Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) Statistics, Standard Note: SNSG/5778.” House of Commons Library, p.3 Available online at


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Commission on Older Women Interim Report September 2013

On Saturday 28th September the interim report on the commission on Older women was launched and “Your Britain” are welcoming comment.  Have your say!

This is an interim report and they will continue to gather evidence and review findings with a view to policy responses.

You can follow their work via their webpage at

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Women at the Cutting Edge

Inspired by ‘Unravelling Equality’ and the TUC Toolkit for demonstrating the impact of the cuts on women’s lives, Liz James and Jackie Patiniotis from the School of Humanities and Social Science, Liverpool John Moores University, conducted a piece of research on the impact of the cuts on vulnerable groups of women in Liverpool, namely women victims/survivors of gender-based violence, women who use mental health services and women asylum seekers and refugees.

The research found that cuts to public sector funding are putting an intolerable strain on domestic abuse and sexual violence services and staff.  Local government money is not covering essential core costs and some organizations are now spending far more time on applying to alternative funding sources such as charitable trusts to make up both the shortfall and the cost of inflation.

Local authority mental health services are being forced to restrict their availability to those with ‘substantial’ and ‘critical’ needs.  Charges have also been introduced, leading women on low incomes to drop out of services.  Together with a drive to ‘modernise’ services, these changes have led to a climate of insecurity for service users and workers alike.

Spending cuts and other austerity measures are having a devastating impact on women’s equality, safety and well-being and that it is essential that organisations that work to protect and empower women are adequately funded.  In order for this to happen, realistic baseline statistics need to be collected, cumulative impacts of potential cuts considered and the social return on investment in women’s services factored in to budgetary calculations.

A full copy of the report can be viewed here: Women_at_the_Cutting_Edge_2013

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Disabled women in Geneva for the 55th session of CEDAW questioning UK government on women’s rights

” It is essential that disabled women are represented in processes like CEDAW reporting as too often our experience as disabled women is invisible, this is an opportunity to change this and show how the cuts and legal changes are affecting us”

–  says Zara Todd, Sisters of Frida steering group member.
For the first time, disabled women (Sisters of Frida) will take part with other women’s groups from the UK in Geneva to address the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) so as to highlight the problems impacting on women’s equality in the UK and what our Government must be examined on, and held to account over, by the UN. This is a unique opportunity for women to raise the key issues they are facing with the UN and the eyes of the world will be on the UK and their progress on women.

On July 17th the UK’s record on women’s rights will come under the spotlight internationally as the UK Government report to CEDAW on their progress. (They were last examined by the UN Committee in 2008. )

Women’s rights in the UK have come to a standstill and in fact some are being reversed. Government policies and austerity measures are disproportionately impacting on disabled women and the rights that were fought so hard by disabled people for are now being reduced. CEDAW is as an important instrument to disabled women as CRPD is important to disabled people and they are inter related.

The Women’s Resource Centre has coordinated a network of organisations across the UK who have produced a detailed shadow report which reflects on the Government’s report to CEDAW which was submitted in 2011. In October 2012 the CEDAW Working Group sent a list of key issues and suggested questions for the Committee to ask the Government to highlight the extent of discrimination against women in the UK which the Government gave a piecemeal response to in February 2013.

The shadow report – Women’s Equality in the UK: A health check – brings together issues impacting on the realisation of women’s rights under CEDAW in the UK in order to support the Government to make positive changes in the future.  These are the recommendations put forth in the shadow report on disabled women’s rights

Take into account the intersection of gender and disability and mainstream disabled women in all Government policies

Implement an effective data collection system which is disaggregated by sex, age, disability and region, which can inform the developmentof policies and programmes to promote equal opportunities forwomen and girls with disabilities

Specific strategies are needed to target disabled LBT women as they experience multiple discrimination through homophobia within disabled communities and services, and negative attitudes to disabled people in LGB&T communities and services

On health and social care

Take steps to address the poor health conditions of women withpsychosocial disabilities. Disabled women typically receive healthservices that are targeted at women in general or at disabled people in general, services need to be targeted specifically for them

Improving access to mental health services for disabled women must be accomplished by services that respect the right of disabled womento make their own choices, in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

Allocate more financial resources to Social Service Departments,requiring them to use the interpretations of the social model of disability when assessing disabled people’s support needs for a ‘care package’

Ensure women and girls with disabilities are educated about sexual and reproductive health, including Sexually Transmitted Infections and maternal services and adopt reforms to improve healthcare services and facilities, including in respect of sexual and reproductive health

Political and public life

Educate media about the discrimination disabled people experience, and encourage them to report the ‘real’ stories including monitoringthe portrayal of women with disabilities in the media alongside industry self-regulation

The UK Government should offer extra support for disabled womenwho want to become MPs, councilors or other elected officials totackle their under-representation in public policy

Economic and social benefits

Simplify the application process to the benefits system. Most importantly, the system should recognise that disabled people are experts on their needs and the difficulties they face. The benefits should allow for them to remove the barriers they experience on a daily basis

Disability hate crime and violence against disabled women

Ensure steps are taken to address the heightened risk for girls and women with disabilities of becoming victims of violence, abuse,exploitation and harmful practices, such as forced marriage, in thehome, community and institutions

Effective legislation and policies must be put in place, including Women – focused legislation and policies that include disability, to ensure that instances of exploitation, violence and abuse against women with disabilities are identified, investigated and, where appropriate, prosecuted
Ensure that both services and information for victims are madeaccessible to women and girls with disabilities which guarantee their access to redress and protection, including training of police and others and increasing the number of accessible domestic abuse refuge services

Rural women

Increase accessibility in public transport, and train bus/train staff to assist disabled women travelers

“We believe that the way the UK Government is implementing welfare reform is having a significant and vastly disproportionate effect on disabled women. These policies on welfare reform are failing to ensure the rights of disabled women and impact assessments are not carried out properly resulting in erosion of the rights which they currently have. The regression of human rights being conducted against UK citizens in the name of welfare has a disproportionate and exponential impact on disabled people. The changes to legal aid means that disabled women have no recourse to support against the discriminations further compounded by gender, race, sexual orientation, the class system, and underlying social deprivation,”
says Eleanor Lisney, Co-ordinator of Sisters of Frida, together

with the Glasgow Disability Alliance (who also submitted a report to CEDAW )

The Appendix 36: General Recommendation 18 – Disabled women is at (PDF)

Word doc Appendix-36_General-Recommendation-18_Disabled-women_FINAL2

The full shadow report Women’s Equality in the UK: A health check is at

For more information or interviews contact Zara Todd : 0044 (0) 07952185958 and follow @FridasSisters (twitter), information about other groups from

Women Resource Centre Policy Officer Charlotte Gage, or (0) 7841508231 @womnsresource

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Layers of Inequality Launched

Coventry Women’s Voices, together with the Centre for Human Rights in Practice, Coventry Ethnic Minority Action Partnership and Foleshill Women’s Training has launched our new report, Layers of Inequality: a human rights and equality impact assessment of  the spending cuts on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic women in Coventry.

The cuts in Coventry

  • In Coventry cuts to welfare benefits are projected to cost residents of the city £112 million per year.
  • As a result of cuts from national Government and a rising population, Coventry City Council’s annual funding per person will fall from £929 in 2010/11 to £717 in 2015/16

One third of the population of Coventry is BAME. BAME women are likely to be disproportionately affected by cuts to benefits, jobs and services.

BAME women and the cuts

  • BAME women are more likely to be living in poverty.
  • BAME households on average receive a higher proportion of their income from working age benefits or tax credits.
  • BAME women face multiple disadvantages in the labour market including disproportionate representation in low paid and insecure unemployment and various barriers to finding a job, including a combination of sexism and racism.
  • Unemployment is higher among all groups of BAME women than among white women or white men.
  • BAME women are disproportionately likely to work in the public sector. For example, 45.6% of Black women of Caribbean origin in paid work are in the public sector.
  • BAME groups as a whole are more likely to report ill health and experience ill health earlier than white British people.

The effects of the cuts cannot be viewed in isolation. They are just one part of a jigsaw of issues that affect BAME women including historic and on-going disadvantage, discrimination and racism. Our title, Layers of Inequality, represents what women have said to us about the multiple impacts that BAME women face as a result of the cuts and how these come on top of the challenges they face on a daily basis as a result of their gender and ethnicity and other experiences of disability, poverty and so on.

A full copy of the report can be found here

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Unemployment up by 74% among Minority Ethnic women in Coventry: New report uncovers cost of cuts

 Monday 8 July 2013
For more information contact Kindy Sandhu 07921 904212/ 024 77677994or email

Unemployment up by 74% among Minority Ethnic women in Coventry:

New report uncovers cost of cuts

Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) women are among some of the hardest hit by the Government’s programme of spending cuts according to a ground-breaking new report published today by the Centre for Human Rights in Practice at the University of Warwick, Coventry Women’s Voices, Coventry Ethnic Minority Action Partnership and Foleshill Women’s Training.

The report, Layers of inequality: a human rights and equality impact assessment of the cuts on BAME women in Coventry examines for the first time the combined impact on BAME women of cuts in a range of areas including employment, housing, welfare benefits, health, social care, education, legal aid, violence against women and voluntary organisations.

The impact of the cuts that have already taken place will be made worse by announcements in the spending review that will particularly affect BAME women
Although the report focusses on Coventry, its findings are likely to apply across the UK. Findings of the report include:

  • BAME women are more likely to work in the public sector so have been disproportionately affected by job cuts and pay freezes. Unemployment among BAME women in Coventry increased by 74.4% between 2009 and 2013. Unemployment among white British women increased by 30.5% during the same period. (1)
  • The cuts to local government budgets announced in the spending review will lead to further job cuts for BAME women.
  • BAME women are more likely to be poor and receive a higher proportion of their income from benefits and tax credits. Cuts to welfare benefits will cost all women in Coventry £76 million a year out of a total of £112 million(2). BAME women are among those hardest hit – the Government’s assessment of the benefits cap concluded that 40% of families affected would include someone who is BAME.

As a range of agencies have warned, the delay of a week before someone can claim benefits when they lose a job may increase child poverty and force people who lose their job to turn to loan sharks and food banks. BAME women are likely to be disproportionately affected because of their greater poverty.

Report author Kindy Sandhu from Coventry Women’s Voices said:
Our report shows that BAME women are among the hardest hit by public spending cuts across many areas. Now the spending review is making a bad situation worse. BAME women will lose more jobs, more money and more services. This is a big issue for Coventry since a third of our population is BAME, but it will be the same for BAME women across the country. We did not cause this situation, but we are paying the price for it.

Report co-author, Dr James Harrison of the Centre for Human Rights in Practice said:
The combined impact of cuts to benefits and services will disproportionately affect many of the poorest and most vulnerable BAME women in Coventry. Public authorities both nationally and here in Coventry have legal obligations under the Equality Act and the Human Rights Act to promote equality and protect human rights. They need to take these obligations very seriously when making decisions about budget cuts.

Varinder Kaur from Coventry Ethnic Minority Action Partnership said:
The announcement that job seekers must learn English in the spending review seems designed to demonise us. The problem is not that people refuse to learn English – the problem is that it is getting harder to get on an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) class. The Government seems to be deliberately creating the impression that the problem is about people who don’t speak English but claim benefits, even though they must know that the proportion of people who are claiming benefits and can’t speak English is miniscule, far smaller than the proportion of people who want to learn English but can’t get on a course.

Christine McNaught from Foleshill Women’s Training said:
At Foleshill Women’s Training we provide health and employment services to women in one of the poorest parts of Coventry. The women who use our centre are suffering increased poverty because of benefit cuts, longer waiting times for medical treatment and cuts to local services. And because our funding has fallen from £450k in 2010/11 to £190k in 2012/13 we have fewer resources to support them.

Notes to editors:

The report launch will take place at 9.30 am on Monday 8 July 2013, at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Jordan Well, Coventry, CV1 5QP

A full copy of the report is available here

1. Source: Nomis (2013) Job Seekers Allowance Claimants data for Coventry by ethnicity, age, gender and duration February 2009 to February 2013,
2. Calculated based on the conclusion of work by the Fawcett Society that 68% of the cost of welfare reforms would hit by women. Fawcett Society (2012) “How have Coalition budgets affected women?” Cost of benefit cuts in Coventry based on Beatty, C. and Fothergill, S. (2013) “Hitting the Poorest Places Hardest: the local and national impact of welfare reform.” Sheffield Hallam University. See page 4 for a link to a spread-sheet showing cuts by local authority.
3. Source: Coventry rent market summary (2013).

The Centre for Human Rights in Practice provides a focus for academics, students, practitioners and activists who wish to advance the study and promotion of human rights at a local, national and international level.

Coventry Women’s Voices works to ensure that women’s voices are heard in Coventry when policy is made.

Coventry Ethnic Minority Action Partnership works with people, organisations and agencies to improve the delivery of services to Ethnic Minority Communities in Coventry.
Foleshill Women’s Training are dedicated to helping all women in Coventry and the surrounding areas through social, health and economic programmes.

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PCC Commissioning Consultation 2013

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner wants to know how to spend his money across the region and is consulting on commissioning delivery mechanisms. The consultation finishes on 31 May 2013.

The link to the consultation survey is here:

This is a summary of the options and Coventry Women’s Voice’s partner organisation,  Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centres’ response. Their preferred option was 2.

The Victims Summit produced three options:

Option 1 – a West Midlands wide structure, led by Victim Support in consultation with other VCSE sector organisations

This approach maximises the capacity and capability of an established organisation, Victim Support, which already has a commissioning process in place.  It allows the skills of partner organisations, working with a shared agenda, to make decisions on an informed basis about the needs locally.  This would also ensure that the lead agency (Victim Support) uses both the market place and service users working together to define the issue, understand need, and develop a service model based on service requirements.

Option 2 – a West Midlands wide structure comprising VCSE organisations, but with no lead organisation

This grouping would operate as described above but with no lead organisation.  Representation would come from the VCSE sector across the seven local authority areas.  This has the potential to maximize the capacity and capability of existing organisations but a mechanism would need to be found for establishing membership of the group and setting up processes and procedures for commissioning.

Option 3 – Procurement via new in house commissioning team set up by the Police and Crime Commissioner

This would require the Police and Commissioner to establish a commissioning structure which does not currently exist.  This option potentially does not make use of existing capacity, skills and expertise that exist within Victim Support or other VCSE sector organisations.  The latter potentially continuing with commissioning as a result of funding that they may receive from other sources thereby duplicating commissioning structures.

Survey Questions

Tell us your thoughts about the name of such a group, how and by whom representation should be determined, and the role and nature of such a group.

CRASAC (Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre)Response

  • Representation must come from groups that cover the diversity of victim groups and support the diversity of the population of the West Midlands. The commissioning process needs groups that know and understand the specific issues of victims e.g. BME groups, women only groups and disability groups for organisations to have faith in the process and therefore the commissioning cannot be led/administered by one organisation. The commission should use the structures that already exist across the West Midlands to nominate appropriate representation e.g. West Midlands Sexual Violence Providers Consortium.
  • The role of the group is to harness the authority and expertise of the Voluntary and Community Sector organisations and present a West Midlands-wide structure that can share best practise, innovation and recognise the gaps in provision based on a relationship of trust and a unified response. Specialist sector organisations are experienced and successful at working in partnership.
  • We believe it is essential that the PCC should provide the secretariat support; organise meetings, invitations, minutes etc. If it is another organisation then by default they will become the ‘lead’, whether in reality or perception.

Commissioning framework and delivery options – which do you prefer?

CRASAC Response: Option 2: West Midlands wide structure of VCSE organisations but without a lead organisation.

Please explain the reasons behind your preference

CRASAC Response

  • Presents a pluralistic model which works well for our client groups can present in a chaotic manner and too frequently ‘burn bridges’ with organisations. People need second chances.
  • Also allows for the inclusion of research expertise or expertise (e.g.  Disability rights, specialist women’s sector or other specific client groups), even if they do not provide frontline services.
  • Most clearly supports the diversity of the population of the West Midlands and of the Voluntary and Community Sector. The Voluntary and Community Sector Organisations are clearly sites of authority and expertise and should be at the centre of the PCC structure.
  • Presents a broader benefit to the Voluntary and Community Specialist Organisations of a West Midlands-wide structure that can share best practise, innovation and recognise the gaps in provision based on a relationship of trust and a unified response. Specialist sector organisations are experienced and successful at working in partnership. This is more effective than a structure which has by its nature a generalist victim support organisation at its heart.
  • Marginalised victims such as those who experience racial harassment or sex workers get lost within a mainstream organisation such as Victim Support. Our experience is that victims will be face the all too common negative myths and stereotypes that exist elsewhere in society that centre on victims of sexual and domestic violence.
  • We believe there is a clear conflict of interest for Victim Support who are or are perceived to be direct competitors of many of the Voluntary and Community Specialist Organisations. It is inappropriate that a direct competitor takes on this role in administering the commissioning process.
  • Despite the measures that Victim Support may well attempt to put in place to combat any actual conflict of interest, the perception of a conflict of interest will remain and which will undermine trust in the process.  Without the trust of the broad range of organisations that work with victims this structure cannot/will not work.
  • The commissioning process needs groups that know and understand the specific issues of victims e.g. BME groups, women only groups and disability groups for organisations to have faith in the process and therefore the commissioning cannot be led/administered by one organisation.
  • Option 3 has a huge negative of the cost, which takes resources away from victims and survivors, plus it does not make use of the skills and expertise contained in the VCSE sector.


Please feel free to use our response to inform your own and respond to the survey here by 31 May 2013





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