'Home?' 17 December 2018
On Monday 17 December at 5.30pm our drama group, Refugee Women's Voice, will perform their own poetry alongside Tomorrows Warriors jazz ensemble to explore the theme of 'Home?' Many of the women in our network, who have come to the UK seeking safety, instead face homelessness and destitution.
Our drama programme supports refugee and asylum-seeking women to develop their creative communication skills. Weekly sessions work towards regular performances and provide a space to relax, build confidence, tell stories and prepare for campaigning events.
Women develop their talent by writing performance poetry, exchanging songs and exploring movement and voice techniques. Themes for our creative work are chosen by the women according to the experiences that they wish to highlight to new audiences.
Join us at the Clore Ballroom, Royal Festival Hall, from 5.30pm for the performance!
Her Stories - events through October and November
This year Her Stories, a collective of female creatives and organisers, supported us, Maternity Action and Ella's Home with our work empowering and supporting refugee and asylum-seeking women.
Her Stories put on a phenomenal programme of events enabling audiences to hear directly from, and support, women at the sharp end of the Home Office's 'hostile environment' policies. Through these events, including an auction of female artists work, Her Stories raised over £60,000 to be split between the three charities.
We are deeply grateful to everyone involved in Her Stories for their support which will make such a huge difference to our work.
For further information please visit the Her Stories website
Performance and Discussion with Hachette UK - 9 October 2018
Our drama group, Refugee Women's Voice, performed their own poetry on what it means to be a woman seeking safety in the UK. The performance was followed by a panel discussion about our work with our director Natasha Walter and grassroots empowerment team members Marchu Girma and Monica Aidoo, chaired by Lennie Goodings (Chair of Virago Press). The event was generously hosted and supported by the publisher Hachette UK.
Bring the Noise - 13 July 2018
We joined Women's March London for their inclusive, positive and women-led #BringTheNoise demo to resist Trump's divisiveness.
With our drums, songs and chants of 'Set Her Free' we made a lot of noise and made sure that refugee women's voices were heard.
Two women from our network performed poetry about their experiences on the main stage, and our grassroots director Marchu Girma read a statement from women detained inside Yarl's Wood.
MY BODY IS / MY BODY IS NOT - 29 JUNE 2018
Our drama group, Refugee Women's Voice, hosted an informal showcase of their new creative project: "my body is / my body is not" at the Southbank Centre.
The performance explored the following questions about womanhood and our bodies:
What memories do our bodies hold?
Who makes the decisions about our bodies?
Where does the bravery of saying no lead us?
Thank you to everyone who came along to listen and be inspired by the performance.
PROCESSIONS - 10 JUNE 2018
On 10 June, we joined PROCESSIONS in London as part of their living portrait of women in the 21st Century.
The women in our network have been created a beautiful banner calling for safety, dignity and liberty for women, with embroidery artist Jess de Wahls.
PROCESSIONS celebrated the centenary of some women's suffrage in the UK. You can read about how the suffragettes continue to inspire refugee women here.
ACTIONS at Kettle's Yard - 10 February to 6 May
Five refugee and asylum-seeking women in our network welcomed the artist Caroline Walker into their lives to visit the places where they are staying.
Caroline Walker produced a collection of paintings exploring the concept of 'home', that were exhibited for the re-opening of Kettle's Yard in Actions. The image of the world can be different.
24 April: Our director Natasha Walter, Abi (a woman in our network who featured in the paintings) and Caroline Walker spoke about what art can do as a tool for empowerment and awareness raising.
All Women Count - refugee and migrant women lobby Parliament on 8 March 2018
Screening of SUFFRAGETTE with Welcome Cinema and Kitchen - 28th November
National Refugee Women's Conference - 4th November, Manchester
Women for Refugee Women at the Serpentine Pavilion
Hear Her Singing | Southbank Centre
We had a busy Refugee Week 2017...
- 19th June - Help Refugees launched Refugee Week at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Our Director, Natasha Walter, spoke on a panel about the reality of the asylum seeking process.
- 22nd June – Different Pasts/Shared Future event at Goldsmiths. Marchu Girma, our Grassroots Coordinator, spoke on a panel with other activists about shaping a future of respect, equality and compassion for refugees.
- 23rd June – Feminist Emergency Conference at Birkbeck University. Marchu led a discussion with refugee women about their experiences of the UK asylum system, and how feminists can stand in solidarity with us and campaign for refugee women’s rights. Refugee women from our network performed some of their own poetry.
- 24th June – Brexit Conference. Marchu was joined by two of the women in our network to speak on a panel about the effect of Brexit on refugees and asylum seekers.
- 24th June -Dead [Women] Poets Society at the Poetry Cafe.
Samantha Hudson, our Communications Executive, joined the Dead [Women] Poets Society for a special Refugee Week event with a line up of fantastic poets.
Women's Great Get Together - Saturday 17th June
We hosted a Women's Great Get Together, in memory of Jo Cox, to bring women from different backgrounds together to share food, stories and music.
The event celebrated our sisterhood and started new, positive conversations about our shared future.
As Jo Cox said, "We have more in common than that which divides us".
Surround Yarl's Wood, 13 May 2017
Refugee and asylum seeking women from our network joined Movement for Justice's Surround Yarl's Wood demo on Saturday 13 May.
You can see why ending the detention of asylum seekers is important to them here.
National Refugee Women's conference, 1 March 2017
The second National Refugee Women’s Conference, organised by Women for Refugee Women and the London Refugee Women’s Forum.
Noma Dumezweni (Hermione in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) opened the conference.The conference closed with a performance from Yasmin Kadi, singer-songwriter and refugee.
Kate Osamor MP (Labour) and Richard Fuller MP (Conservative) spoke about their support for women seeking asylum.
Our inspiring refugee women speakers included Mina Jaf (Women Refugee Route), Mariam Yusuf (Women Asylum Seekers Together Manchester), Zrinka Bralo (Migrants Organise) and Marchu Girma (Women for Refugee Women). Other speakers included Hannah Pool, Nimco Ali, and Kat Banyard.
As the Set Her Free campaign enters its fourth year, we gathered to plan, build solidarity, and campaign with refugee women. We also launched Women for Refugee Women's new research on alternatives to detention, exploring how we can build a better, fairer, asylum system.
Read our blog about the day here.
#March4Women, London, 5 March
Women for Refugee Women were an official partner of CARE International on their fifth annual #March4Women. This year’s theme was Refugee Women.
Kick-starting a month of action for a more equal world, CARE’s annual celebration to mark International Women’s Day saw everyone – women, men, girls, boys and people of all genders and identities – come together for a day of inspiration and entertainment.
Listen to the Women, Tuesday 13 September 2016
An inspiring evening of refugee women's voices and experiences, featuring musicians Yasmin Kadi and Eliza Shaddad; actresses Juliet Stevenson, Tanya Moodie and Anne-Marie Duff reading refugee women's testimonies; the London Refugee Women's Forum performing their own poetry; and a panel with Yvette Cooper MP, Heidi Allen MP, and Radio 4's Jane Garvey.
Refugee Women at London Feminist Film Festival, Friday 19 August 2016
Our short animated film Set Her Free: Margaret's Story premiered at London Feminist Film Festival, as part of an evening of short films about refugee women's experiences.
This short animation, produced by Women for Refugee Women and directed by Priya Sundram, highlights the experiences of refugee women, many of whom have survived sexual violence and torture, who are detained in Yarl’s Wood. It tells the story of one woman, Margaret, who suffers political persecution, imprisonment, rape, and torture in her home country, before fleeing to the UK on a false passport to claim asylum. She is escorted to Yarl’s Wood detention centre, where she is locked up. The animation highlights the parallels between Yarl’s Wood and her previous imprisonment in her home country, and how detention forces her to relive her trauma.
The film screening was followed by a panel discussion, featuring WRW's Sarah Graham and ex-detainee Ntombi. Watch and share the film at: https://youtu.be/bA5irTWLixg
Encampment at Southbank, London, 4 August 2016
Marchu, Rehab and Jade joined Good Chance Theatre in their Encampment dome for a panel discussion, chaired by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, on why refugee women and their stories are often unseen and unheard.
Women and War Festival, London, 6 July 2016
Members of the London Refugee Women's Forum performed their poems Anyone Can Be A Refugee and Set Her Free, followed by a panel discussion with Jade Amoli-Jackson, Rahela Sidiqi, Rehab Jameel, and drama teacher Rebecca Laughton, chaired by communications executive Sarah Graham. Many thanks to Women and War Festival for generously donating the proceeds from this event to support our work.
Crossing Borders Festival Brighton, 20 June 2016
On World Refugee Day, members of the London Refugee Women's Forum performed their poems Anyone Can Be A Refugee and Set Her Free at a lunchtime concert by Brighton and Hove Interfaith Choir, as part of the week-long Crossing Borders Festival. The performance also gave us a lovely excuse for a day-trip to Brighton with members of Women Asylum Seekers Together (WAST) London - and even some wind-swept fun on the beach once the rain cleared up!
Refugees Welcome at London's Southbank Centre, 19 June 2016
We were proud to open the Refugee Week celebrations at London's Southbank Centre with poetry performances by London Refugee Women's Forum. The women performed their own poems, Anyone Can Be A Refugee and Set Her Free. WAST London member Ntombi also led her African dance troupe Nyakaza in a lively performance of traditional songs and dance.
Parliamentary event on the detention of pregnant women, 22 March 2016
In partnership with Bhatt Murphy and Medical Justice, and hosted by Caroline Spelman MP (Conservatives), we organised a Parliamentary event to discuss the need to end the detention of pregnant women.
We were joined by speakers Stephen Shaw (author of the Home Office commissioned review into welfare of vulnerable detainees), Louise Silverton (Royal College of Midwives), Stephanie Harrison QC (Garden Court Chambers), and a refugee woman who was detained while pregnant. You can read more about this event on our blog.
International Women's Day protest outside the Home Office, 8 March 2016
We gathered to celebrate and demonstrate on International Women's Day, along with a host of brilliant female performers and speakers.
More than 100 people, including 50+ refugee women, joined us to send a strong message to Home Secretary Theresa May: It is time to SET HER FREE!
Find out more and check out some of the brilliant photos from the day on our blog.