Discussion of the WI Resolutions for 2017
– Tuesday 10th January 2017 – 3-5 pm
There were 7 members present to discuss the 6 resolutions published in November / December issue of WI Life.
All agreed that the 6 resolutions were topical and very important issues that need addressing. However, we decided that 3 of them would not be effective campaigns for the WI:
- (1) Alleviating Loneliness – Loneliness is hard to define – how do you identify and attract lonely people? This would be better tackled by Age Concern, hospices and the many other organisations already working in this area. Would it also be better to educate people approaching their 70s to prepare them for some of the changes they face?
- (4) Provision of appropriate welfare and safe spaces for women and children in refugee camps – although we were all very concerned about refugee welfare, we weren’t sure what the resolution was specifically aiming to achieve and the supporting information from NFWI didn’t seem to be sure either! We were glad that this issue has been raised, and it would be good to help women and children in such difficult situations, but not convinced that this particular resolution will do that. There are many refugee situations caused by different factors. Other expert organisations are better placed to know what they need in their particular camps, rather than a dictate “from above” which prioritises ‘safe space’ over other basic needs.
- (6) Plastic soup: Keep microplastic fibres out of our oceans – important issue, but current resolution wording is asking for more research, which government is already planning. Filters in washing machine will need to be cleaned out – still ends up in the environment. ‘Anti-shed’ treatment might also have an impact on environment or health. No specific action in resolution, so may be more relevant when more information is available.
This left us with three resolutions to discuss in greater detail…
- (2) FGM: More awareness for more action – We all felt strongly about this: it is illegal and it should be enforced. We recognised that there are cultural and social aspects to this, but felt that it was not OK for girls and women to be subjected to FGM – it is not humane. We wondered how the data is collected and could this campaign send FGM underground? Who do you contact if you suspect someone has been or is about to be subjected to FGM? [The charity, Daughters of Eve, recommend contacting Crime Stoppers.] We recognised that this can be challenging for those involved in blowing the whistle as they would be splitting up a family and people are worried about upsetting people. However, we came back to the fact that the practice is inhumane. It would be good to also educate kids in school as part of sex education. We also felt that, although this is a global problem, the UK could lead and provide a good-practice example for the rest of the world.
- (3) Equal access for all who need specialised maternal mental health services – important issue but very complicated as it is entangled with other issues such as NHS funding and shortage of midwives. To what extent are some of these self-inflicted (e.g. drug and alcohol abuse)? We had mixed views about whether it would it be better for the resolution to include all mental health issues. On the positive side, if perinatal mental health is tackled, women can recover fully and we can see it happening as long as the women affected are identified – there is concern that the current lack of midwives means that mothers are discharged quickly with very little follow-up so those affected could easily fall through the gap.
(5) Supporting women’s refuges – We felt that WIs should be more actively involved in women’s refuges. The government has put in extra money but people are being turned away – “in one day in 2015, 75 children and 92 women were turned away” – there is clearly a need for more spaces and this is something that the WI is well-placed to campaign on. We also discussed whether this was ‘sexist’ as men are also subject to violence but it was noted that a) the WI can’t campaign for men’s refuges and b) campaigning for women’s refuges didn’t mean that we were saying there shouldn’t be any refuges for men.
The next step is for individual members to submit their vote before 24th January 2017. It was agreed that an email would be sent to members to remind them and to include this report. To make things easier for our fellow members, we will also have an envelope ready at the next meeting (16th January) for members to put their slips into and we’d ensure that the envelope goes to Federation in time.
The next meeting will on Tuesday 21st March at 3pm. Venue is J Co’s house.
- Update on previous actions agreed on microbeads and public toilets.
- Discussion on Dementia-friendly villages