WPUK & Toilets

There has been much speculation about the expectations we have for the use of toilets at our meetings.

Below is the explanation we gave to Norwich Quakers when they asked us to clarify our position:

“There is no specific law relating to the provision of single sex toilets for adults.

However, provisions in the Equality Act 2010 allow for the application of single sex exemptions if it is “a proportionate response to a legitimate aim”.

Our position on the use of toilets is to ensure that everyone should have access to facilities that they feel safe and comfortable in.

This paragraph from the Quaker Life Central Committee (QLCC) draft discussion paper is in line with this position:

“We note that shared spaces such as toilets, changing and sleeping areas can cause anxieties and concerns for people. We believe that no-one should have to use shared spaces which do not feel comfortable to them. In a context of systemic male violence, particularly towards women, we are especially minded to examine the potential adverse impact of any policy on women and girls and to make efforts to remedy this. All Quaker premises and events ought to provide facilities which everyone feels safe and comfortable using. The usage of these facilities must be clearly defined and communicated and must offer choice for the individual.”

We ask attendees to use the toilets relating to their sex.

There are many reasons why women in particular expect to access single sex provision and, as a women’s rights group, we feel it is important to demonstrate the right women have to establish clear boundaries.

However, this became a particular priority after representations made to us by female survivors of sexual and domestic violence attending our events who were distressed at sharing toilets with people they experienced as male. As statistics show that 1/5 UK women have suffered sexual violence, this is a matter of real concern to us.

We therefore make sure that the venues we book offer either single occupancy unisex toilets as well as those designated male and female such as is available at the Norwich Quaker’s House.”

Also read:

Why ‘gender-neutral’ toilets don’t work for women

Mixed-sex toilets in schools

 

 

 

A Woman’s Place is turning the tide

Ali Ceesay was part of a team of women who organised a WPUK meeting in Brighton in July 2018.

Organising a WPUK meeting, may not feel like an easy undertaking. The notorious harassment of venues & speakers are well documented.

But times are changing. The baseless allegations, slander and smearing of WPUK are waning.

Why?

Because the more meetings they have, the louder our voices, the clearer the message.

In my town of Brighton our sex based rights are being erased.

Erased without debate, without consultation & without consideration. From council policy, to our Rape Crisis centre. I felt voiceless. I felt alone. I felt powerless. Women in Brighton needed a voice. Needed a platform. Needed Womans Place UK.

So I joined a small collective of local women to organise a WPUK meeting. I had never organised anything like this before. To be frank, it felt overwhelming. My head was buzzing with lists and outcomes. But it needn’t  have been. The combined expertise and passion of our local group combined with the experience of the WPUK team was formidable and exhilarating. For me- a newbie to this, it was the best work experience of my life.

We had disruptions, venue cancellations, misrepresentation in the press, protests. Each of these disruptions played out well. We got a better venue, the protests & smearing (although intimidating) simply served to demonstrate the bullying nature of many seeking to remove our rights.

All of the challenges, brought us organisers closer together. Humour, wine, righteous anger and a quiet determination bonded us all. We not only organised a meeting but we built a local network. Friendships stronger than ever, nearly a year down the line.  Still working together locally to represent the rights of women and girls.

And our meeting was a success. Helen Saxby, Kathleen Stock (both local), Gill Smith & Ruth Serwotka brought the house down. The people came, the venue held strong, the protesters were kept at bay & media coverage was good. Local influencers from politics, to charities, from the media were in attendance. We pulled it off!

So often as women we have to fight our battles alone.

Not now.

The experience of standing shoulder to shoulder in a congregation of women, learning from powerful orators, watching attendees finally given space, a voice and a microphone was exhilarating.

Knowing I had a small part to play in it, well that’s a feeling I will never forget.

Ali Ceesay

Organise your own public meeting where you livesee our guidance.

Watch the films of our speakers at A Woman’s Place is turning the tide (Brighton)

Helen Saxby

Kathleen Stock

Gill Smith

Ruth Serwotka