Last Week AZ Mag went to the launch of 1000 Women; a great organisation with an even greater cause, to highlight and change equality within the mental and sexual health care systems for Black, Asian minority women.
You could tell this meant a lot to those involved with Marion Wadibia CEO of NAZ and Shola Afuape Chair of the Afiya Trust beginning the night with a heart felt introduction acknowledging all those who made it possible to get to where they’re at!
The headline statistics are that in 2014/15, 79% of all women accessing HIV care were Black, Asian minority women. If you go back year on year, you’ll find that the figures do not change much at all for at least a 10 year period. In terms of Mental Health (including psychosis, depression and presenting of mental health issues) the highest numbers of people affected are Black, Asian and minority women.
What 1000 Women aim to do is find out why this is so we can change it. They also want to help lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning women because they are aware that whilst we may not rate high on the STI stats, we are definitely in need of support when it comes to mental health issues and where to go for help.
Soon after the intro, 2 actresses performed two funny but moving monologues of true accounts, produced by Joy and Christina.
One was about a woman having to prove her sexuality as a lesbian so she could remain in the country. The whole decision making process can take anything from 2 weeks to 2 years! In that time she couldn’t work, have access to public funds and couldn’t have a passport. The initial process didn’t even sound like a private one as the actress exclaimed, “Everyone could hear my business!” She explained that she wrote out 12 sheets of paper proving who she was, yet the person who was deciding her fate, didn’t even bother to read them. It’s interesting that everyone I’ve run this particular story by asked the same question: “How do you prove you’re a Lesbian?” Which just shows how degrading the Asylum process can be for LGBT people.
I couldn’t think of a better way to best get across the true stories that were told. To see a woman’s experience in the system acted out made it that much more personable and emotive.
The only thing I wish that could’ve gone on for longer was the panel discussion, as it was insightful to learn and the hear the views of the women who were chosen to speak on sexual and mental health issues. They included: Suzette Llewellyn (Actress), our very own Lady Pyll Opoku (UK Black Pride Co-Founder & Executive Director), Maxine Webster (Fmr Chair of KPMG), Sandra Clough (E-Commerce Manager of BNP Paribas Bank), and Baroness Liz Barker
It was empowering to be a room with so many successful women of all minorities, but it also made me think of the women they engaged with to reach their findings: 41% of women had a University education or equivalent and a further 18% of women had a Masters. These women go un-recognised in the current system. It’s time we do more.
Take a look at the 1000 Woman website to see what you can do to help!