News Blog A better future for migrant and vulnerable women 11 AUGUST 2016BY CAROLINA GOTTARDO, DIRECTOR OF THE LATIN AMERICAN WOMEN'S RIGHTS SERVICE Following the Brexit vote, it is crucial to ensure that women’s rights are not diluted, and that we have an inclusive society where all women are treated with dignity and respect, particularly those who experience multiple disadvantage. The Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS) is delighted to support #FaceHerFuture because we want to see a positive future for women and girls. We want to ensure that all women can assert their rights, and put an end to the double standards that allow some women to exercise their rights, but not others. We are a BAMER women’s organisation that has been working with Latin American migrant women in the UK for more than 33 years. We also do policy and advocacy work on migrant women’s rights. In the aftermath of the Brexit vote, we have witnessed an alarming increase in reports of racism and sexism that our women and girls (and women from other ethnic minorities) have experienced. Women and girls have been telling us about how racism and sexism have been affecting their ordinary lives in places that they used to consider safe, such as school, work or public transport. How does it feel for a young teenage girl to be told at school that she is going to be deported? Or for a woman riding the bus to be asked not to speak Spanish in public, because this is a country where we only speak English? How does it feel for a migrant woman at work to have to listen to negative comments about her nationality and to be asked to pack her bags and leave? Additionally, with the very large numbers of Latin American migrant women with EU passports (Towards Visibility 2016), the levels of anxiety, uncertainty and insecurity are very high. Women and girls feel confused and unsure about their rights and some have been wondering whether they will be able to enter the country again if they go on holiday, or whether they will be deported. At LAWRS, we have been raising awareness about EU rights, encouraging women to report hate crime, engaging in joint work with other ethnic minorities and sister organisations, and we have scaled up our policy and advocacy work on migrant women’s rights. Let’s say this loud and clear: Migrant women’s rights are human rights and should be respected. EU migrant women’s rights should not be used as bargaining chips. Survivors of VAWG and victim rights should be above immigration control if we want to ensure that crime is reported. Sexism, racism and multiple discrimination on the grounds of gender, race and immigration status should be stamped out. Jointly with #FaceHerFuture, we ask for decision makers (which should include a large proportion of women on the negotiation table) to: ‘prioritise specific needs of women experiencing multiple disadvantage, based on race, sexuality, disability, income, vulnerability, migration status or other factors; urgently address the racism and violence that many women and men are experiencing (disproportionately affecting women) and protect EU migrant women from unfair treatment.’ Now more than ever we need to be united, to have a common voice and to continue advocating for the things that we believe in: women’s and migrant’s rights, community cohesion, inclusion, solidarity, dignity and respect, openness and tolerance. We need to make sure that our voices are heard for the good, and that sexism, racism and other forms of discrimination are reported and stamped out. Whether we like it or not, let’s use this change to ensure that women’s rights are not diluted, but strengthened. A decent society is one that treats all of its women and men with respect and dignity, particularly those who are most vulnerable. Let’s express our solidarity with our migrant sisters (regardless of their status) and with all other sisters, and let’s make Britain the best place to be a woman. Let’s #FaceHerFuture. Face Her Future is a campaign in which a number of women’s organisations have come together to protect and further women’s rights post-Brexit. To sign up for more information and find out how to get involved, head to: www.faceherfuture.co.uk ABOUT AUTHOR Carolina Gottardo is a feminist lawyer and economist who has been working for more than 20 years in human rights, specialising in women’s, refugee’s and migrant’s rights. She is the Director of the Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS).