Will the crowd fund abortion? Grassroots abortion charity uses crowdfunding to get to the next level

Abortion Support Network (ASN) is a grassroots charity is a grassroots charity that provides financial help, information on arranging the least expensive abortion and travel, and accommodation in volunteer homes to women forced to travel from Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man (surprise! It’s illegal there!) for abortions. We do this with a mobile phone, a spreadsheet, a website, a bank account and countless volunteer hours. We do this because “I can’t afford an abortion” shouldn’t be the only reason someone becomes a parent.

This year, ASN turned five years old. Since we launched in October 2009 we’ve helped over 1,600 women and families to get the information, the practical advice, and, most importantly, the money they need to get safe and legal abortions in the UK. In five years, we’ve heard from an incredibly diverse range of people. Women as old as 51 and girls as young as 13. Women in or escaping abusive relationships, pregnant as result of rape, with serious mental or physical health issues. Women with children, women with grandchildren, women with no children. Married couples who felt they had enough children already. Students wanting to continue their educations rather than their pregnancies. And what did these people all have in common? They were pregnant. They didn’t want to be pregnant. They are poor. And they never in a million years thought they’d be calling a total stranger in England to ask for money.

And our phone never stops ringing. The number of times we hear from women and families in the worst imaginable circumstances never decreases. In 2009, we heard from 4 women. In 2010, 89 women. In 2011, 253 women. So far this year, we’ve heard from well over 500 women. In 2015, we estimate nearly 700 more women will contact us, and we want to be able to help them, and also to step up our outreach efforts to women who haven’t heard of us yet. At the same time, we’re a group of volunteers. With the exception of one part time role funded by a £7500 grant from The Feminist Review Trust for the duration of 2014, ASN is run by volunteers and funded almost exclusively by private individuals. So we find ourselves at a crossroads: scale up by paying someone a proper wage so ASN can continue to be here for people fleeing Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man for abortions; or scale back and reduce the services we offer and the number of people we are able to help.

Given the ever-decreasing pot of trust and foundation monies available for charities – especially small, grassroots, women’s sector charities – we decided to look to the group that has from day one enabled ASN to be the helpful voice at the other end of the line: private, socially minded individuals. On 1 December, we launched our crowdfunding campaign, The Next Level. We started with £10,800 from three anonymous donors and are hoping to raise an additional £16,500 from the crowd so that we can be here not only next year, but for the next three, five, ten years and beyond.

Though we live in hope, and despite the herculean efforts of campaigning groups such as Ireland’s Abortion Rights Campaign, Northern Ireland’s Alliance for Choice and Abortion Rights UK, it is unlikely that there will be abortion law reform any time soon. And we know that making abortion against the law, or criminalizing it in any way, does not stop or even decrease abortion. It just means that, when faced with unplanned, unwanted pregnancy, women with money have options and women without money have babies. Or, as we have discovered, women without money or access to money will do dangerous things. ASN has heard from women who have ingested chemicals, overdosed on medication, tripped themselves downstairs, searched online for herbal “remedies.”

While groups work for much needed law reform and to change the beliefs of people who can’t seem to grasp that choosing not to have a child at a particular point in your life, or ever, is in itself a valid, moral decision that is, to put it bluntly, not their business, Abortion Support Network is the right-now solution for the women who need abortions today. And we are so, so grateful for the support we receive.

Mara Clarke is the Founder and Director of Abortion Support Network. Please visit www.abortionsupport.org.uk to sign up for their eNewsletter or to follow ASN on Twitter or Facebook, or http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/asn-the-next-level/ to make a donation to #TheNextLevel campaign.

December 8, 2014

28 February 2015 13:30 ~ No Platforming of Radical Feminists – A Talk by Julie Bindel – Nottingham

Julie Bindel will be talking about the No Platforming of radical feminists, followed by questions and discussions.

The event is organised by RadFem Collective, in partnership with the gender-critical transgender Miranda Yardley.

Please note this is not a panel discussion.

There will be plenty of time for questions and discussions.

This is a mixed event and everyone is welcome, whether you’re a man, women, transgender or those who identify as neither.

And you are also welcome whatever your views.

The ticket price is purely to cover costs such as room and PA hire. Everyone involved are volunteers.

To buy a ticket follow this link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/no-platforming-of-radical-feminists-tickets-14635614517

Check for updates at https://www.facebook.com/events/390835357740611

December 8, 2014

14 December 2014 12:30 ~ Miss World? Old World Misogyny – London Feminist Network

Join us to peacefully protest the Miss World final.
Until 14:30 at alocation to be confirmed, but close to the venue Excel Centre

Why object to ‘Miss World’?

Here are some of the reasons why we think it is important to protest…

What about women’s right to take part in a beauty contest?

We have nothing against women who choose to take part in beauty contests. However, we would say that the issue is not as simple as one of individual choice. Holding beauty contests has an impact on all women. The sexist idea that women should be judged on the basis of their appearance influences the way that all of us feel about ourselves as women and the way that men view and treat women. Beauty contests therefore become an issue for all women, not just those involved in the contest.

Aren’t beauty contests empowering?

We live in a society in which as women we are forever being told that being empowered is all about looking good and being attractive to men whether it be through beauty contests or cosmetic surgery, or a new lipstick or becoming a lap dancer. But is that real empowerment?

When the positions of power in society are vastly dominated by men, does winning a beauty contest or looking ‘hot’ really make a difference to the power relations? Rather than being empowering, beauty contests are in fact disempowering because they deny the full humanity of women and they reinforce the idea that women’s purpose is to look ‘attractive’.

Aren’t beauty contests harmless fun?

Beauty contests treat women as if we are objects to be compared and judged. This dehumanises women and leads to the idea that it is acceptable to view women as a sum of body parts, not real people. The first part of any oppression is to dehumanise the group that is oppressed. The more it becomes acceptable to view women as a sum of body parts, the easier it becomes to disrespect, to mistreat and even act out violence towards women as a group.

When we live in a society in which gender inequality is massive and violence against women is endemic, it becomes clear that any practice which promotes the objectification of women inevitably has an impact on the sexist attitudes which underpin mistreatment and that it is therefore clearly not harmless.

Aren’t beauty contests about celebrating beauty?

A beauty contest is not a celebration of beauty, it is a manifestation of sexism. There is nothing ‘beautiful’ about women being commodified and judged according to sexist, racist, homophobic and able-bodied notions of what constitutes beauty.

Do we still need feminism? Aren’t we post-feminism?

We live in a society in which 80% of MPs are male, 91% of High Court judges are male, 92% of Vice Chancellors of universities are male and 75% of people living in poverty are female. A society in which 1 in 4 women will be raped in her lifetime and in the UK 2 women die each week at the hands of a male partner or ex-partner. The revival of beauty contests, the pornification of culture, and the growing sexualisation of young girls are all signs of a mounting backlash against the gains women have made in society.

It is interesting to note that the revival of the sexist 1970s style beauty contests, which is very much a part of a general pornification of culture, is taking place at a time when women and men are actually becoming more equal in education and a time when girls are even outdoing boys at school. It is as if to remind us that as women, no matter how intelligent you are, your worth is still dependent on how you look. This is not liberation, it is a backlash.

To sum up:

The reintroduction of beauty contests is another example of how sexist practices are becoming seen as a normal and mainstream part of our lives rather than as sexist and outdated.

Beauty contests reinforce the idea that women are only of value according to their attractiveness and they reduce women to objects to be judged and compared on the basis of our appearance.

This erodes our human rights to be treated as equals and is therefore an issue for all women, not just those involved in the contest.

As women we have fought long and hard for the right to be treated and respected as thinking individuals, not as objects who exist in order to ‘look good’.

We want so much more for all women and that is why we are protesting the Miss World beauty contest!

For more details contact londonfeminist@yahoo.co.uk

Check for updates at https://www.facebook.com/events/840908352613870

December 8, 2014

9 January 2015 ~ True Honour Awards 2015 – IKWRO

Nominations now open!

We are delighted to announce that nominations are now open for our 4th True Honour Awards.

IKWRO will present a True Honour Award to a person or organisation that has taken a stand against “honour” based violence, whether in their personal lives or in their work. By recognising and publicising their outstanding courage and commitment, we hope that we can inspire others to act.

You can nominate an individual or organisation for the award by completing the nomination form(*) and emailing it to events@ikwro.org.uk.

The only criteria is that your nominee has made a contribution to the fight against “honour” based violence.

The deadline for submitting the nomination form is midnight on Friday 9th January 2015.

If your nominee is shortlisted you will both be invited to a gala awards ceremony in Central London on Wednesday 4th February 2015 where we will announce the award winner.

Our judging panel is looking forward to receiving your nomination!

(*) Download forms from http://ikwro.org.uk/2014/12/honour-awards-nominations/

December 8, 2014

19 January 2015 ~ Women’s History Month 1-31 March 2015 – East London Programme Submission Deadline

Alternative Arts is co-ordinating Women’s History Month in East London from 1-31 March 2014.

If you are planning a relevant exhibition/performance/event/workshop during March 2014 please let us know so that we may include your activities in the Women’s History Month programme which will be widely promoted. Participation is free.

Deadline for submission 19 January 2015.

Please send us the following details and an image.
* Venue and address with full postcode
* Nearest tube/stn
* Website & phone number
* Date(s) and time(s) of Event/Exhibition
* Admission charges (if any)
* Title of Event/Exhibition
* Names of Artists/Performers/Writers involved (if any)
* Brief description
* Contact name and email (not for publication)
* One image

T: 020 8800 6665
E: info@alternativearts.co.uk
W: http://www.alternativearts.co.uk

December 8, 2014