On Friday 15th May, we posted on twitter a copy of a letter sent to Andy Burnham regarding the need for a gendered response to COVID 19. We explained the gendered nature of COVID, of the responses during lockdown and our concerns around how these are eased.
Soon after, we were deluged with tweets, many felt abusive and some were Islamophobic. We – a small group of volunteers - initially started blocking comments and then pulled the piece altogether, because of some of the hateful comments being shared. We have since regrouped, hence this statement.
GM4Women is made up of people from different backgrounds and organisations living and or working in Greater Manchester. We have come together with the idea that in the period to the centenary of equal franchise - we can do better. This work has begun by highlighting the data and experiences of diverse women is in the region – hence the annual scorecard.
We do not want to be a vehicle to spread hate.
While dealing with the abuse, unfortunately we also ended up blocking and silencing those of you who - without resorting to insults – just wanted to share personal experiences linked to areas of focus for the coalition. We need to find safer spaces for these conversations.
In the meantime, we will continue campaigning on the issues outlined in the letter and will be following up with Andy Burnham.
In relation to COVID and beyond, we are calling for more debate and transparency and in particular the need to:
· Establish the GMCA Women and Girls Panel as a matter of urgency. This provides a much-needed forum for insight and challenge to help ensure women and girls are visible in the response and recovery planning.
· Convene the different Greater Manchester equalities panels to share learning on the way forward and agree how best to ensure the voices are heard of citizens who face multiple and intersecting disadvantages.
In particular, the twitter responses and exchanges have highlighted the significance of the GM4Women Safety Group’s call to the Mayor’s Office publish or share the roadmap for further consultation and then publication of the long-awaited GM VAWG Strategy.
If you would like to help create a stronger coalition of intersectional feminists in Greater Manchester please join us. We need your help – together we can do better.