For International Women’s Day 2018, Women’s Aid is celebrating the amazing women who are campaigning and working to help end domestic abuse.
In the run up to International Women’s Day we are asking everyone to celebrate the many wonderful women making a difference to end violence against women by posting on social media post using the hashtag #WomensAidAmazingWomen
Tell us about both the public figures and unsung heroes all over the country, making a difference to the lives of women and children.
Here are some amazing women to get us started:
Alison Inman has nominated Women’s Aid as her presidential charity at the Chartered Institute of Housing, and during this time has raised huge amounts of awareness in the housing sector about domestic abuse, as well as raising vital funds through the presidential dinner.
“We don’t know the true scale of domestic abuse because so much of it goes unreported. But a survey in 2016 revealed more than four million women reported having been a victim at some point since the age of 16. That means all of us are providing homes for victims.
“Changes to law, though welcome, will only achieve so much while most domestic abuse remains unreported. We simply have to do more to help victims.
“And that doesn’t just mean providing refuge for them when things have reached crisis point – though we could do more on this, too. It means helping people before, during and after their abuse.”
Claire Throssell‘s two sons were murdered by their father, despite her warnings that he was a danger to them. She has since campaigned tirelessly to stop unsafe child contact with dangerous perpetrators of domestic abuse.. Due to her commitment and resolve, family courts are safer – it’s now mandatory for the courts to determine whether children will be at risk of harm from a contact order, and perpetrators are no longer able to cross examine their victims in court.
“It took just 15 minutes on the 22nd October, 2014, for my life and heart to be broken completely beyond repair. I had warned those involved with my case that my happy, funny boys would be killed by their own father; I was right.
My boys were both with their father on that October day, and at around 6.30pm he enticed Paul, nine, and Jack, 12, up to the attic, with the promise of trains and track to build a model railway.
When the boys were in the attic, he lit 16 separate fires around the house, which he had barricaded, so my sons could not get out and the firemen could not get in.
Jack was still conscious when he was carried out of the fire and told the firemen: “My dad did this and he did it on purpose.” This was taken as his dying testimony.
No more children should die at the hand of a parent. Jack and Paul’s father was a known abuser. Why, then, was he allowed unsupervised, unsafe contact with my boys? Even though we’d separated, the abuse hadn’t ended. This was not taken on board by the Family Courts. He wanted to take everything from me, and he did. The boys’ right to safety – to life – should have outweighed their father’s desire for contact.
I want to help other families going through the Family Courts and trying to escape domestic abuse. I want to ensure all children enjoy a safe future. Every child matters. It’s too late for my boys, but not too late for others.”
Chlo suffered horrendous abuse from the age of 13 from her first boyfriend, who controlled, threatened and sexually assaulted her for years. She bravely went to the police after he threatened to kill her, and her abuser received a restraining order.
For the last few years, from the young age of 16, Chlo has not only been rebuilding her own life but working tirelessly to make sure more is done to protect young women from domestic abuse. She has been invaluable in helping Women’s Aid develop a digital service for young people, and runs her own campaign, the Speak Out Project, which offers training and workshops to schools and organisations on young people and healthy relationships, whilst also starting her degree at university last year. We are always so inspired by Chlo at Women’s Aid, and are proud to celebrate her as our youngest #WomensAidAmazingWomen.
“It’s hard to explain how trapped domestic abuse can make you feel; I wanted to die because I couldn’t see any other way to make it stop. I had no idea that someone could abuse you without physically hurting you or that it was something that happened so young.
What I went through with him has opened my eyes to a lot more problems in the world. The government doesn’t do anywhere near enough to protect women from male violence. I was angry at him, but now I’m angry at the society which made him that way and systems that let men like him get away with it. I’m now throwing all my energy into raising awareness of domestic abuse with young people and campaigning.”
Sadi is a British born Kashmiri woman, who suffered psychological and physical abuse for five years following her arranged marriage at the age of 19.
“Having survived domestic abuse, it is so important for me to share my story and inspire women to get out. To show them that they are not alone, that you don’t have to survive you can ‘live’ and make your life wonderful and fulfil dreams you never realised you could. Raising awareness with Women’s Aid has given me strength and made me feel actually proud of who I am. It lifted the shame I somehow accumulated while suffering. A shame I didn’t put on myself but society and people put on me.
I have a strength inside me that I had not realised. These days I see myself differently. It’s hard to explain but it made me proud that I went through all that and look at me… Still laughing still smiling still working still being a mother…it made me acknowledge my hardship face it and to be proud that I survived, got through and am living and being me.”
Jess is a vocal campaigner for women’s rights and equalities. Before she became a member of parliament, she worked at Black Country Women’s Aid – where she developed new refuges, a sexual exploitation support service for children, a home for victims of human trafficking and schools education programmes. Since becoming a Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, she has continued working to end violence against women and girls. She chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Domestic Violence and her work towards ending violence against women and girls includes providing a voice for the women detained in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre through to leading the campaign in parliament to protect refuges from closure.
Maria Miller is the first ever Chair of the House of Commons Women and Equalities Select Committee, which holds the Government accountable for action to to improve equality. Under her leadership, the Committee has led important inquiries into the issues facing women and girls in our society – including publishing a landmark report on Sexual Harassment and Violence in Schools which was instrumental in making Relationships and Sex Education compulsory for all school age children from 2019. Maria was a Minister in the former Coalition Government, and Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and Minister for Women and Equalities from 2012-2014. Maria is a powerful voice for action to tackle violence against women and girls in Parliament, and is Vice-Chair for the APPG on Domestic Violence.
“I am immensely proud of the work that Women and Equalities Select Committee, of which I am Chair has done towards ending violence against women and girls.
Our Inquiries have covered a diverse range of issues, deliberately challenging in their tone and recommendations, to create better awareness of the wide range of problems women face: ‘Women in the House of Commons’, ‘Sexual Harassment and Violence in Schools’, ‘Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination’ and ‘Gender Pay Gap’.
There is so much still to achieve, and no room for complacency; the Women and Equalities Committee is determined to play our part and #PressforProgress on ending violence against women and girls.”
Marai has been working to end violence against women and girls for decades and has recently become involved in the high profile #TimesUp campaign with Emma Watson
Photography by Michelle Beatty.
“My practice and activism is strongly rooted in Black feminist resistance and community organising. Even before I had the language to describe ‘intersectionality’, I somehow understood that as BME women / women of colour our journeys were being shaped by exclusion and marginalization in different ways to our counterparts.
If we are to end violence against women and girls, and create a truly equal world, we need to start to create seismic shifts across our social norms. This is not just about transforming belief systems and behaviours in terms of gender; it also means addressing other norms – for example, around ethnicity, class and disability – all of which contribute to holding other oppressive systems in place.”
When domestic abuse survivor Mehala Osborne fled to a refuge, she was horrified to learn that yet another right was being denied her: the right to vote.
“I never realised how much having a vote meant until it was taken away from me,” she says. “I had already been through enough, and to be disempowered even more was so difficult.”
She decided to launch the Right to Vote campaign and Women’s Aid was determined to support her all the way. We’ve been working together to campaign for democratic rights for thousands of survivors.