Women’s Resource Centre is wholly committed to the principle of led by and for. We stand up for Women’s organisations and women only services and spaces, because all evidence shows that’s what works best for women and that’s what they want. We also extend the led by and for principle to specific groups of women, BME women, lesbian women and disabled women- “Nothing about us without us”
It’s therefore a real challenge to the development of diverse and inclusive partnerships when we are witnessing the unrelenting demise of BME women’s organisations. We firmly stand with our sister organisations across the UK and we cannot remain silent whilst BME women’s organisations are under threat of extinction.
This threat comes in many guises; competition in local commissioning from non BME led by and for organisations to provide services for BME women, problematic commissioning decisions, insufficient collaboration and subtle narratives developing which are suggesting that BME women’s organisations should be sharing their expertise with non BME women’s organisations as they too have BME women accessing their services.
This narrative requiring BME led by and for organisations share expertise, on the face of it could appear reasonable, even sensible. However if we turned that into a parallel request for women’s led by and for organisations to share expertise with generic mixed gender organisations to improve their ability to work with women how would that sound? Would the Domestic Violence specialist women’s sector want to share their expertise with housing associations that are cleaning up the contracts for refuge provision?
In a fiercely competitive environment which already favours larger organisations what exactly is this narrative’s (un)intended consequences? As far as I can see the only possible outcome is the final nail in the coffin for BME led by and for women’s organisations.
So can we drop this suggestion and instead make use of the expertise held, by resourcing BME led by and for specialist providers. Is it not the right of ALL women to self-determination and independent organisation?