On Day 3 (July 17th), the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women considered the seventh periodic report of the United Kingdom on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
This is the day we were building towards with the oral presentations, lunch presentations – we gave the CEDAW committee our concerns to help them formulate questions to the those representing the UK government – the panel was led by Helene Reardon-Bond, Director of Policy, Government Equalities Office. The delegation of the United Kingdom in the room included representatives of the Government Equalities Office, the Home Office, the Department of Health, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom to the United Nations at Geneva, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive.
Last week the Disability Intergroup* of the European Parliament met for the launch of a new report on Women and Disability prepared by rapporteur Angelika Werthmann (MEP). In her introductory speech Ms Werthmann explained the initiative had sprung from a (non-disabled) women’s group concerned to further include disabled women in their focus, but that for her (and many in the womens group), disability was an entirely new subject so preparing the report had been a learning curve. Personally I felt a bit wary of what she might say initially, but then before she expanded her presentation she made a specific invitation to Intergroup members and attendees to consider sending her further amendments which would be factored in the final publication.
Her report highlights the specific barriers to full participation and inclusion in society faced by disabled women, and was warmly welcomed by all attending…
We set off in the morning with the IWRAW group by bus to the UN Palais de Nations. We were unable to go in with the others however because apparently we were not registered inspite of having the emails which said we should be. however we were not the only ones, Elizabeth Sclater, of the older women’s delegation was also in the same boat.
When we got our badges we went in and was in time to join the young people, Big Voices group to do the building tour. There were some impressive rooms.
More importantly we joined the others for lunch to discuss final details for the oral presentations. We had about 10 mins in all for UK, and presentations were to be given by England, Scotland and N Ireland, Wales was not able to come. We were also given information about who was in the CEDAW panel and…
Today we met up with Charlotte in the IWRAW training on how to approach the UN systems – how best to lobby.
After which we had a meeting on how to make our oral presentation to the CEDAW committee. Given we only have one hour for 4 countries, 10 mins for the whole of the UK (if we understood it right) we need to be very precise.
We reconvened at dinner time with the other UK working group members to agree on a single joint statement and strategy for the very tight schedule. The priority areas we all agree on are the intersectional aspects of the erosion of women’s rights and access to justice.
“No ability to exhaust domestic law renders CEDAW meaningless” Cris McCurley from NE Women Network
” 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. Continue reading →
Regular readers of this blog and followers of the related @CreativeCrip Twitter account might recall in February of this year I rashly pulled myself out of ESA hell in favour of being self-employed. Being honest – I knew at the time that I still wasn’t ready to make such a move. Atos phoning me at home about another WCA was the catalyst. I literally could not face having to deal with them again and was so desperate that taking myself off the merry-go-round seemed like the only thing that would bring some relief.
It’s been touch-and-go ever since, largely because of the appalling lack of support from my old GPs & CMHT Psych Team. As I’ve said before, being a Native American merely Permanently Resident in the UK is not without problems. Every inquiry and appointment turns into an immigration interview – which is not only unnecessary it is quite inappropriate. One of the things that I constantly struggle with in trying to get help is that the professionals I am meant to be dealing with don’t leave their politics and prejudices at home. It’s much the same dealing with engineers from telephone companies, supermarket delivery drivers and neighbours. Everyone has really strong opinions on immigration, benefits and disability and there is no hesitation in imparting their wisdom to me no matter how malicious and ill-informed.
I’ve had to make even more changes in the aftermath of dropping my ESA claim.
My finances were in such a dire state that I had to borrow money to be able to move house and secure it by paying six months up front. There is no feeling of failure quite like crying to your mother at the ripe old age of 46 and having her cash in some of her pension to bail you out.
Instead of the accessible ground floor flat that cost £650/mo (downgraded from another ground floor flat that was £800/mo) in Cardiff, I am now living in an old split-level miner’s cottage in the Valleys that is nowhere near being disabled-friendly. It only costs £375/mo – great for someone with very low income. Accessible bungalows and ground floor flats come at a premium I simply cannot afford having already exhausted my redundancy on paying the mortgages of other people.
I need to find a new GP and essentially start all over again, hoping that I’ll get the support and referrals I need to manage my complex health needs. I haven’t found the courage to actually get myself out of the house to do this – and October marks three months living here.
When I moved house this past July I hadn’t seen my old GPs in over a year – our relationship was *that* adversarial. I just couldn’t cope with having to deal with them again knowing that, quite frankly, they really didn’t give a shit what happened to me as reflected in their attitude every step of the way.
The meds I need I haven’t had for some time now so of course my mood and manner are more down than slightly down (I’ve never been an “up” person and never will be). Having said that – there is a difference between Clinical Depression and just being in a foul mood. I am at least astute enough to recognise which is which in myself., but of course not having effective treatment for the Clinical Depression doesn’t help. I had been on 200gm of Sertraline a day but hypersomnia won out. The fact is that the Clinical Depression *is* really kicking my tail in every way, shape and form.
It seems that I may be an undiagnosed Aspie (and the results of Simon Baron Cohen’s online test support this along with some others) – but unfortunately before anything could be explored on that basis the old CMHT changed Psychiatrists, which they did every few months it seemed. I also missed a lot of appointments because I could not make them for physical or financial reasons or both. Making appointments three months in advance was never going to work. I also begged the CMHT to allow me to have phone conferences. This was laughed at…why I don’t know.
I have now been on a list to see a spinal surgeon for over two years. Every time I contacted the hospital they were annoyed and told me they would get back to me. Now that I’ve moved house I will have to get a new referral.
I am also overdue for knee surgery and this has severely impacted my mobility. Again I will have to get a new referral thanks to the house move.
I am angry about my situation and who I am because of it all the time… and no matter what I try it just doesn’t subside. As I’ve said before, all I’ve ever asked for is the help and support I need to get back to having a somewhat productive life. I’m not the only one in such a predicament but it astounds me still that politicians from all three major UK parties have strong opinions about disabled people and work, yet they seem to go out of their way to make things as difficult and inhumane as possible for us. Everything from Disability Living Allowance to Access To Work to Working Tax Credits is such a nightmare to navigate and especially for anyone who is completely alone.
What most people don’t realise is that in order to be “officially” recognised as Disabled you *must* be in receipt of DLA. Without it, it is impossible to get much needed help and support – even something as basic as a blue Badge, utility bill discount or motability car. The various programmes that exist are also run along the same tiers used by the DWP – ie, lower, middle & high rate for both care and mobility. If you don’t get higher rate of mobility or care, youre out of luck. This was my experience after becoming disabled a few years ago and using my savings, post-redundancy to fund my needs. Once that money was gone and I needed help, only then did I begin the arduous process of claiming benefits to try and keep going while I aimed for self-employment.
Were DLA not the determiner for access to services etc, I would say it is a moral issue for wealthy people like this man or David Cameron – and given the difficulties of those without such financial comfort in trying to meet the most basic of needs, the wealthy should bear the costs of their needs as long as they are financially able to do so.
Yet again – the system that is at the heart of the problem even more than any one person’s sense of “entitlement”.