The closing conference of the No Means No project, “Women with disabilities resist violence”, took place online on December 3 2021, the Day of Persons with Disabilities. This conference sought to set violence against women with disabilities and feminist self-defence on the European agenda, to inform European decision makers about policy gaps and good practices, as well as to provide a space to women with disabilities for self-advocacy.
The event was opened by Helena Dalli, European Commissioner for Equality, who introduced the conference, and was followed by speakers from the different partner organisations sharing the results of the project in the different countries. In the afternoon, we had the chance to welcome Liz Kelly, from the London Metropolitan University, who shared crucial insights on feminist self-defence as primary prevention of violence and we are thankful that Lydia La Riviere Zijdel, from Stichting Lydia Zijdel Foundation (who has successfully trained our trainers in the No Means No project!), talked specifically and eloquentely about feminist self-defence for women with disabilities. Her intervention was followed by Carina Tränkner, Wendo trainer from ZIBB (Centre for Inclusive Education and Counselling), who presented the inspiring project “frauen.stärken.frauen”, a training to become self-defence trainers for women* with and without learning difficulties. Last but not least, the conference was concluded by Evelyn Regner, Chair of the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee of the European Parliament. The whole day was professionally and warmly moderated by Liz Chornenki, a Disabled fundraiser from Canada.
With over one hundred participants, including women with disabilities, participants from the anti-violence and disability organisations and public institutions, we are proud of our achievement.
The official languages of the conference were English and International Sign Language and it included simultaneous transcription in English. The conference was also translated simultaneously to French and Belgian-French Sign Language (in the afternoon only for the latter) and to Polish and Polish Sign Language.
You can rewatch the conference in different languages:
At the beginning of 2021, the project partners decided to continue the training of trainers online only to avoid any further pandemic-related delays. Our feminist self-defence trainers continued learning how to better include women with disabilities in their workshops and to accommodate their needs.
In March, the Lydia Zijdel Foundation provided us with a very interesting online module on working with hearing impaired women. Not only did we learn a lot about the history of Deaf and hearing impaired women and the specific forms of discrimination and violence they encounter. We also received a lot of practical tips for teaching from Maloush Köhler, a sign language interpreter who pioneered feminist self-defence for Deaf women in the Netherlands. A Q/A session on 23 March concluded this module. Two more modules will take place in May (working with women with visual impairments) and June (working with women with learning disabilities).
While the online training is informative, many of the participants regret that there are no possibilities to physically meet and get to know each other. There are differences in how feminist self-defence is organised in our four countries, how we become trainers and which groups we are working with. To be able to exchange our experiences and build connections across borders, we organised an online meeting on 13 February. 25 trainers participated, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. We are looking into possibilities to organise more such opportunities to meet and work together.
The first module of the training of trainers was planned for 20-22 March 2020. However, with governments implementing confinement policies and some shutting borders, it was impossible for the module to go through as planned.
One of the major goals of NO MEANS NO is to raise awareness about violence against women with disabilities. The project website no-means-no.eu is an important means to achieve this goal. It strives to inform women with disabilities, disability organisations, family and professional caregivers, the anti-violence sector, policy makers and the general public. Throughout the project, we will update the website with additional language sections, publications, an agenda and more diverse and accessible means of communication. Check it out!