Women’s Aid response to reports of sexist comments from Premier League CEO

As an organisation working with the Premier League to increase awareness of domestic violence and the sexist attitudes that underpin violence against women, Women’s Aid was shocked to read over the weekend of the sexist and derogatory language used in emails between a lawyer and Richard Scudamore, the Chief Executive of the organisation.

Women’s Aid Chief Executive Polly Neate said:

“We were appalled by the sexist language that we read in the papers over the weekend and particularly dismayed that this conversation involved an individual leading an organisation that had agreed to add much needed and influential support to a campaign we are developing, working to raise awareness of domestic violence and sexist behaviour. In fact, it illustrates all too well why the campaign is needed. We have thought long and hard about the future of this partnership. However, the support of the Premier League is critical to the campaign’s success, and we are also encouraged by their further commitment to engage Women’s Aid internally to assist with developing best workplace practice in countering sexist attitudes and behaviour.”


See also:

World Cup domestic violence risk: Why football really needs help

With the World Cup nearly upon us, Polly Neate, chief executive of Women’s Aid, explains why the charity is dedicated to changing football culture and working with the Premier League, in spite of Richard Scudamore’s sexist comments

Football is core to the nation’s identity, but it certainly isn’t one that offers equal voice and opportunity to men and women. It is largely dominated by male players, male managers and big organisations such as the Premier League which are headed up by male chief executives such as Richard Scudamore.

At Women’s Aid, we were appalled by the sexist and derogatory language which was used in several of Scudamore’s leaked emails, as we had just started to work with the Premier League to campaign against domestic violence and the sexist attitudes that underpin violence against women. So, does this mean we stop working with the Premier League? No, it means the opposite. It means we have some serious work to do.

With the World Cup only a few weeks away, Women’s Aid is launching a full-on campaign with the football community to coincide with the beginning of the tournament. Our partnership will focus on combatting domestic violence – which we know is a significant problem after games.

It is very easy to dismiss sexist comments as japes or as comments which have been taken out of context, but they can have a significant impact on our culture. Within football, sexist attitudes can stop women feeling welcome at football grounds, no matter how much female fans they love the game. Casual comments on Twitter with the hashtag #evertonwivesrunforyourlives and ‘jokes’ about convicted rapist Ched Evans, the former Sheffield United and Wales striker, coming back “to rape your defences” only serve to trivialise violence against women, which affects at least one in four women at some point in their lifetime.

We believe that these voices come from a minority and that many people would never dream of being sexist or abusive. The footballing community is of course a massive cross-section of society, made up of both the good and the bad. However, we also know that it is often the minority that we hear the loudest, and this is why it is so important that everyone else speaks out.

This is why we are currently working with a number of partners within football, including the Premier League, to, excuse the pun, tackle abusive behaviour and attitudes towards women, both within the context of the footballing world and in society more generally. We have thought long and hard about continuing the partnership, and we have come to the conclusion that walking away won’t achieve anything. We will work with the Premier League to develop workplace policies that directly address sexism and violence against women, and we are aiming to have real long-term impact in the football community through our campaigning work.

We hope the widespread criticism of the comments made in Scudamore’s email conversations mean that calling out sexism is becoming less of a minority sport.


May 21, 2014

Charities offer free advice to commissioners of services for women escaping violence – Women’s Aid

Local public sector commissioners of services for women fleeing violence are facing perhaps the most difficult decisions of recent times, as they themselves face severe cutbacks, yet the wrong decisions in this field can cost lives, say Women’s Aid and Imkaan, two national federations of services preventing and tackling violence against women and girls. The two organisations are today jointly releasing a free guide for local public sector commissioners, designed to support public sector staff responsible for commissioning services for women experiencing and fleeing violence. Successful Commissioning includes clear information on commissioners’ legal duties around domestic violence, the type of services victims and survivors need, and how to measure service quality through the tender process.

Starting from the National Audit Office’s position that “successful commissioning means delivering the right outcomes for the right cost”, Women’s Aid and Imkaan are committed to supporting commissioners in what are very challenging decisions at a time of austerity.  The charities are also committed to supporting members at local level to engage effectively with public sector bodies. As well as the guide, Women’s Aid and Imkaan are offering practical support, advice and guidance to commissioners about service user need in local areas and commissioning appropriate services to meet it, and are supporting local services to meet commissioners’’ needs and work together in partnership and consortia.

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid said:

“In today’s challenging economic times, local public sector commissioners have a difficult job. In domestic violence, the wrong decisions can be truly dangerous. Central funding only covers a small proportion of local provision, local funding is severely reduced and there is no one commissioner with a statutory duty to address violence against women and girls. Decision-making to ensure consistent provision of safe, quality support for survivors is an increasingly complex task. We are committed to supporting commissioner to navigate the complex and unique needs of service users and deliver the best quality and best value services through the provision of Successful Commissioning.”

Marai Larasi, Director of Imkaan said:

“If we are to truly address violence against women and girls, we need to make sure that survivors have access to effective, appropriate services, and that prevention is a core part of everything that we do.

“In a time of such great economic difficulties and increasing concern about the impact of austerity measures on the most vulnerable individuals and groups in our society, it is even more important that we get the commissioning of vital frontline women’s services right.

“This unique commissioning pack takes into account the challenges that we know commissioners themselves face, it distils the knowledge of frontline providers and other experts, and it sets out the legal context for commissioning services. Even more importantly – it outlines what survivors, including black and minority ethnic women, are saying they need in terms of support.”

For a copy of the pack, or for further information, please contact Franki Hackett in the Women’s Aid Press Office on 0207 566 2511 or on f.hackett@womensaid.org.uk.

Press Release at http://www.womensaid.org.uk/domestic-violence-press-information.asp?itemid=3270&itemTitle=Charities+offer+free+advice+to+commissioners+of+services+for+women+escaping+violence&section=0001000100150001&sectionTitle=Press+releases

May 21, 2014

EVAW reveals – main political parties’ sexual harassment policies ‘hopelessly inadequate’

‘Parties should be aiming for a Gold Standard,’ say women’s groups citing Rennard scandal & other allegations of sexual harassment in Westminster

With European and local elections just days away and thousands of local political party activists making last minute appeals to voters, the End Violence Against Women Coalition today (20 May) published a legal analysis (1) of the three main political parties’ policies on sexual harassment which finds them “hopelessly inadequate”.

The national coalition of women’s organisations requested the policies be disclosed by each party leader when the Liberal Democrats failed to act decisively on the Lord Rennard ‘scandal’ in January this year (2).

A leading equality lawyer has reviewed the responses sent by Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband and Grant Schapps to the EVAW Coalition and says that as a set the policies are “hopelessly inadequate” and “demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of what the law requires.”

Cover letters and attached party policies in the main:

  • Appear not to appreciate that the sexual harassment of party staff or members is unlawful
  • Do not state that a person making an allegation will be protected from ‘victimisation’, that is, incurring further discrimination as a result of making an allegation, as the law also requires
  • Currently have poor procedures for making an allegation, or have not disclosed these.

The Conservative Party’s ‘Respect’ policy for MPs and their members worryingly opens with the statement that MPs “have the right to expect to carry out their parliamentary business free from unfounded allegations of discrimination, harassment or bullying”.

The Lib Dems will not implement new policy and codes of conduct until the end of 2014.

The Labour Party have disclosed policy for party staff only. It disclosed only a description of what it considers to be harassment and no details of procedures for how it should be dealt with. The party says it is following up recent recommendations on how better to publicise its procedures within the party.

Karon Monaghan QC who wrote the legal analysis said:

“None of the main political parties appear to understand that they are subject to the law against sexual harassment in their dealings with party members. The Equality Act 2010 makes clear that it is unlawful to subject members of a political party to sexual harassment.

“None of the documents produced by the party leaders evidence any understanding of the legal position. Even their policies addressing the harassment of staff indicate a lack of understanding of the legal position. The main political parties simply do not seem to understand their legal obligations and equally importantly what constitutes best practice.”

EVAW Coalition Director Holly Dustin said:

“We are publishing the three main political parties’ disclosed policies on harassment as thousands of party members and workers are working intensively on Euro and local elections campaigns, and as all are beginning their 2015 general election campaign at the grassroots level.

“We are disappointed that these policies are not better. Indeed, we believe that the parties should be aiming for a gold standard when it comes to issues of sexual harassment. How can voters have confidence in their public policies on violence against women if their internal policies are not up to scratch?

“Women’s representation in British politics is still woefully inadequate and the political parties need to seriously think about whether they are welcoming places where women will be treated equally to their male colleagues.

“We are calling on all political parties to work with expert discrimination lawyers to ensure that their policies on sexual harassment set a high standard for others to follow, and that they are implemented properly.  We are also calling on the parties to work with women’s groups to make concrete manifesto commitments on violence against women and girls and other equality issues. In the wake of recent scandals about sexual harassment and sleaze at Westminster and in other parts of public life, this is the very least that voters deserve.”

The EVAW Coalition’s request to party leaders for disclosure of their policies is here, and Karon Monaghan QC’s legal analysis here, and the political parties’ responses:


  1. The full legal analysis and the political parties’ letters to EVAW and policies are available to download at www.evaw.org.uk/news
  2. In January the Liberal Democrats’ internal party inquiry into Lord Rennard’s sexual harassment of women party activists failed to produce decisive results despite finding the allegations credible; the women involved in the case were disappointed. EVAW’s response is here.
  3. The policies requested and disclosed do not refer to MPs’ staff. These workers are employed directly by MPs in a manner similar to a small, private employer. Employment and equality law still apply absolutely to the terms and conditions of these people’s employment.

Press Release at http://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/news/150/evaw-reveals-main-political-parties-sexual-harassment-policies-hopelessly-inadequate

May 21, 2014

28 May 2014 ~ Introduction to Counselling for Refugee Women – Women and Girls Network – London

Places have become available for the second Introduction to Counselling for Refugee Women training course (which is part of the Women and Girls Network’s IPAMO: Honouring Resilience Restoring Lives project) and, as a result, the deadline for applications has now been extended to Wednesday 28th May 2014.  Interviews will be held on Friday 30th May (and, possibly, Monday 2nd June). The course will run between June-July 2014.

The project is for refugee women who want to develop understanding and practise in counselling and is part of the Women and Girls Network’s (WGN) specialist training provision. It builds upon the successes of our previously provided Refugee Women’s Project and has been developed in consultation with refugee women.

IPAMO is an innovative training package that has been designed to facilitate the support and professional development of refugee women and to enhance their ability to provide counselling and support to other women with a shared experience. No prior knowledge of counselling is required.

The project comprises of 2 free accredited courses: an Introduction to Counselling for Refugee Women, and an, Advanced Course in Counselling and Supporting Refugee Women. Participants who successfully complete the introductory course can apply to take part in the advanced course. The advanced course will run between September 2014-March 2015. Both courses include support to encourage successful participation and completion.

For further information about the project (including details of how to apply) please visit www.wgn.org.uk/training

May 13, 2014

3 June 2014 ~ Raising Women’s Voices: Social Media, Campaigning & Influencing Training (Beginners Level) – WRC + 26 June & 17 July 2014

This one-day beginners level Campaigns and Social Media training is tailored to women’s organisations and projects with no or limited working knowledge of policy, campaigning and social media (such as Twitter and Facebook) and who want to understand the basics. You don’t need any previous knowledge of campaigning or social media to come to this training.

The training is divided into two sessions. The first one starts at 10am and finishes at 1pm, and the second session begins after lunch at 1.45pm and finishes at ca. 4.45pm. This training takes place at the WRC office in North London.

Morning session (10am – 1pm)

This section covers the basics of campaigning and influencing, and is delivered by WRC’s Policy and Influencing Officer.

  • What is a campaign?
  • Key stages of campaigning:
  • Building a strategy
  • Analysing the issue and context
  • Involving the right people
  • Routes to influence
  • Tactics and tools
  • Communication

Afternoon session (1.45pm – 4.45pm)

The afternoon session will be an introduction to social media. If you know nothing, or almost nothing, about social media then it will be a great way to familiarise yourself with the main platforms, like Facebook and Twitter. The training will comprise:

  • What is Facebook?
    • Setting up a personal profile
    • Setting up a profile for your organisation
    • How to use Facebook
  • What is Twitter?
    • Setting up a profile
    • How to use Twitter
  • What about others? A brief introduction to:
    • Linked In
    • Instagram
    • Pinterest
    • WordPress and Tumblr

We want to stress that you should come on this course if you have little or no familiarity with social media. If you already have a Facebook or Twitter account you may already be too advanced!

Dates & Registration

Please click on the date you would like to attend and follow the instructions to register your place.

Training Fee

We are offering this training course for FREE for WRC members. For non-WRC members, the following fees apply: >

    Full day: £50
    Half day: £25

If you would like to know more about WRC membership and how to join, please visit our membership page here.

If you know you have been a WRC member before but are not sure about your current membership status, please contact Suvi via email or call the WRC office on 0207 697 3450.

May 13, 2014