There are a lot of things to thank Twitter for: distraction, recommendation from peers, customer service, to name but a few.
My favourite thing, however, is becoming aware of something you didn’t know existed. Such was the case with the Women’s Resource Centre.
The WRC came to my notice thanks to the tweeting of one of its Communications team, Leah Williams, as both @whywomen and @leahmouse. I knew there were a number of women’s charities and services, but I didn’t know that there was an umbrella organisation that offered them all access to training, support, advice and information designed to make each and every one more efficient at delivering help to women in need of it.
Aside from helping to correct the misconception that women have somehow magically achieved equality in recent years – a misguided belief which means that funding to women’s organisations is falling – the WRC also lobbies on women’s issues. The organisation was behind the (PDF!) Why Women Only? report, which focussed on the benefits of “by women, for women” services.
I have to admit I’ve never sought women-only space. But then I have been lucky enough not to be a victim of violence or discrimination. The report is fascinating reading. For example, a random poll of 1,000 women found:
• 97% stated that a woman should have the choice of accessing a women-only supportservice if they had been the victim of a sexual assault.
• 56% of women would choose a women-only gym over a mixed gym, 28% of womenwould choose to go to a mixed gym (16% didn’t know).
• Of the 560 women that would choose a women-only gym, they cited reasons such asfeeling more comfortable, less self-conscious and less intimidated. Respondents statedthat they didn’t want men watching them, looking at their bodies or sexually harassingthem.
• 90% of women polled believed it was important to have the right to report sexual ordomestic violence to a woman (such as a woman Police officer); 87% thought it wasimportant to be able to see a female health professional about sexual or reproductivehealth matters; and 78% thought it was important to have the choice of a womanprofessional for counselling and personal support needs.
Some of that is perhaps intuitively obvious – I’m not at all surprised that having a suffered a horrifying assault, a woman would feel safer with another woman. But the very high proportion of women who feel self-conscious or are worried about harassment just for exercising in front of men is a surprise to me, and a worry.
The WRC’s next campaign will be working alongside Amnesty to highlight the plight of women who have no recourse to public funds, a situation which leads women of insecure immigration status trapped in violent relationships with no hope of support. A mass lobby of parliament is planned for the 4th of November, and you can find out more about getting involved on the WRC website.
This subject is really too vast for a post of this length to do it justice. I recommend visiting the WRC’s website and finding out more about how supporting their campaigns can help all women’s organisations in the UK.