“Sad Loss of Overseas Women Speakers to UK” WPD Feature

It’s fantastic to read long term advocate for women’s rights, Margaret Owen, speaking up for women’s voices in The Guardian recently. Read what she had to say on the sad loss of overseas women speakers to the UK below and at the original link above.

Margaret has raised up women’s voices for many years, particularly widows’ voices at Widows for Peace through Democracy, in national and international fora, including previously at the Commission on the Status of Women.

For more information on WPD, see their website here.

And for more information on CSW & the CSW Alliance see here.

“In far too many international conferences held in the UK in recent years, overseas speakers’ panel chairs are empty (Future conference in doubt as academics say speakers refused visas, 26 September). Women, in particular, whether academics, human rights lawyers, grassroots feminist activists, researchers, if they come from developing and especially conflict-afflicted countries, are likely to have their visa applications refused on the most dubious grounds.

“The case of Nigerian lawyer Dr Attah is not unique. Women from overseas invited to speak at meetings addressing important gender and human rights issues such as violence against women, the plight of women and girls as migrants and refugees, the roles of women in peace-building and in law reform, are routinely refused entry to the UK. Their absence diminishes the value of these events. Their voices are crucial to the resolution of global, regional and national problems. This situation is likely to get even worse in the context of Brexit, making the UK the least appropriate location for international conferences.

“It was distressing that at this year’s UN commission on the status of women, held annually in New York, many of our sisters from those countries on President Trump’s refusal list were absent. Are we becoming as racist and misogynist as the White House? One of the UK’s greatest assets was our academic prowess and our capacity and keenness to engage with people from around the world. Our reputation for fairness and integrity is deteriorating fast.
Margaret Owen
Director, Widows for Peace through Democracy