Do not open it … Do not own it

Hacked Cassette Player

Tonight I am performing for the GMCDP AGM at The International Anthony Burgess Foundation. Alongside other local disabled artists, I will be trying out a new scratch electronic piece: Do not open it // Do not own it

Do not open it // Do not own it is sound based parody about PIP & ESA claimants resorting to the use of cassette tapes to record their assessments.   

Using ableton live, touch boards and hacked cassette players, I will explore the backward/rewinding/distorted process these assessments have been for many of us. 

The process isn’t just a cruel challenge to our survival, but also a distortion of our identity or validity as disabled people.  

GMCDP AGM

6.30pm-9.30pm, International Anthony Burgess Foundation
Engine House Chorlton Mill 3
Cambridge Street
Manchester
M1 5BY

International Women’s Day

Today I delivered a short presentation for Salford City Council’s IWD2019 staff event. Below is two images from the prezi I made for my speech and my instagram blog about IWD2019.

Other speakers included: Debbie Brown (Director of Service Reform) and Magda Sachs (Principal Policy and Equalities Officer).

Image depicting a mountain. Text at the top reads: D 3 – Democracy Disability and Devolution, Manchester Based Women’s Project, Breakthrough UK – Gemma Nash (Trustee)
Image of a leaf. Text on the leaf reads: Why? According to the Fawcett Society, only two women MPs identify as being disabled people – under half a percent of the House of Commons! 42% of women in Greater Manchester who reported sexual violence were also disabled (Voices of Survivors Project 2018)

View this post on Instagram

The campaigning theme for International Women’s Day is ‘Balance for Better’. But for many disabled women, our lives are literally ‘Hanging in the Balance’. Last month I learnt a shocking, if not surprising, statistic: 42% of women in Greater Manchester who reported sexual violence were also disabled (Voices of Survivors). . . The safety of women in Greater Manchester is a key area of concern for the newly launched Pankhurst-Fawcett Scorecard. The Scorecard identifies 10 key measurements around gender equality across Education, Employment, Safety, Participation and Culture. Led by Helen Pankhurst and the GM4Women2028 Coalition, the plan is for the data to be compiled and shared annually to 2028 (which is the anniversary of equal franchise). . . One of the biggest reasons why the safety of disabled women has become more of an issue over the last few years is due to cuts in our welfare state (Sisters of Frida). In Greater Manchester, for example, many disabled women have reported a 25% reduction in their social care package, sometimes this has been reduced to 50% or even 0%. . . Unfortunately it is also more common for women to have no other method of funding their own care, making them more at risk. According to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, just under half of disabled women are neither employed nor actively seeking work. . . This is a particularly difficult situation for any women in an abusive relationship, as they can end up forced to rely upon their abusive partner to provide ‘care’. . . Anyone can become a disabled person and I always think it’s worth remembering that our fight for representation and is also your fight, or those before you – many suffragettes, for example, became disabled through their activism. Many ended up incarcerated in institutions alongside other disabled people at that time. So these brave women were again denied the right to vote, because they were disabled. #internationalwomensday #girlpower #womenempowerment #balanceforbetter #events #feminist #women #art #empowerment #feminism #iwd #womeninbusiness #artwork #sdg #celebratingwomen

A post shared by Gemma Nash (@gem_nash_artist) on

My visit to the House of Lords

Today I attended an event at the House of Lords to celebrate Voicebox Cafés work supporting underrepresented women to participate in public life.

As a sound artist I have worked in some eccentric places but none quite as grand as the House of Lords! 

I was there in my capacity as a BreakthroughUK Trustee to help promote their new Manchester based women’s project – D3 (Democracy Disability & Devolution).

There were lots of interesting speakers at the celebration talking about a wide range of empowering projects.  I was particularly impressed by the young women from Manchester’s Women Making History project talking passionately about international and domestic ‘period poverty’.  This was a subject I briefly touched upon in my sound piece about disabled women’s health.

Disabled women’s healthcare is also a topic that BreakthroughUK is addressing through their health screening workshops.  Running at the same time as D3  these initiatives will support, encourage and empower local disabled women to take action and become more politically active.

D3:Democracy Disability & Devolution

Supporting disabled women to get involved in the political process is so important because we are particularly underrepresented.

According to the Fawcett Society only TWO women MPs identify as being disabled people – under half a percent of the House of Commons!  Yet the ONS estimates that approximately  8% of the working age population are disabled women.

Our lack of representation can be partly attributed to a global culture of misogynism within the political process.  But I also think we face a hybrid form of misogynism, as illustrated by the awful sexism and ableism  Freyja Haraldsdóttir recently experienced from other Icelandic MPs.

This intersection of misogyny and ableism is apparent within all aspects of the political process – from voting to standing in elected office. 

In the UK there has even been issues at AWS (All Women Shortlists),  such as the lack of step free speaking platforms and ableist attitudes.  For example,  one AWS candidate kept emphasising her ‘physical prowess’ during Hustings.   A debating tactic which would be questioned, at the very least, if she was emphasising being white or heterosexual etc . 

We have a political culture of macho-ableism which favours the loudest, rather than the most suitable, candidate.  Alongside the lack of basic adjustments, this sends the message that disabled women are not expected to be part of the political process. 

Recently this problem has been highlighted by shadow minister Marsha de Cordova after House of Commons authorities provided an inaccessible meeting room for an event being held to celebrate the UN’s international day of disabled people!

Hopefully initiatives like D3 and VoiceBox Cafes will go some way in changing this status quo.

For more information about D3 please see the Breakthrough website: https://www.breakthrough-uk.co.uk/democracy-disability-devolution.