Women taking action for a healthier planet
Back in the 1980’s when Wen was formed, it’s mission was always to bring a feminist lens to issues that link gender, health and the environment. And thirty years on we continue this work with our sustainable food programme, environmenstrual campaign, Real Nappies for London, Soil Sisters and the Feminist Green New Deal project.
Wen’s office is based in Tower Hamlets, East London and this is where our urban food programme is located. It is also where we have delivered environmenstrual workshops in the local schools and work in women’s refuges. All our work has an act local element to it – but this doesn’t mean we only work in East London.
Our Climate Sisters project, has seen us reach women’s groups in Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow. This is an important part of our work and perhaps quite unique – where we link grassroots engagement with policy work.
We asked our campaign and programme managers to give an update on what they have been up to during 2021 and their plans for 2022.
LOOKING BACK OVER 2021
BRINGING THE FEMINIST GREEN NEW DEAL TO THE UK
We were so excited to be able to bring the Feminist Green New Deal (FemGND) to COP26, a culmination of months of planning. This joint project with the Women’s Budget Group (WBG), is unique in joining up grassroots engagement with policy work.
Wen supported four women’s and community groups from across the UK working with marginalised women to come to COP26 as part of the Feminist Green New Deal and Climate Sisters project. These were: Support and Action for Women’s Network (SAWN) from Greater Manchester, Communities Engage & Thrive from Birmingham, Leaders in Community (LIC) from East London, Glasgow Climate Sisters coordinated by Zarina Ahmad. Our Climate Sisters project worked with two groups of women, in Glasgow and in Greater Manchester (SAWN), on a Feminist Climate Leadership course in the lead up to COP26. As part of this project the women developed their own creative pieces to convey their thoughts, feelings and ideas about the climate crisis to share with policy makers and the general public. These pieces were showcased at the Climate Sisters Conference at COP26 and at our FemGND fringe event in Glasgow asking ‘Why do we need a Feminist Approach to the Climate Crisis?’
In the Green Zone at COP26
Wen had a stand in the Green Zone at COP26 where we showcased our FemGND project asking people for their feminist visions for a green, safe and fair world. Wen was part of the Women & Gender Constituency’s advocacy group in the lead up and during COP where we amplified a joint message around Feminist Climate Justice working in solidarity with women’s and feminist organisations from the Global South and Global North. Find out more about Wen’s time at COP26.
As part of the project we have published five policy papers this year on: FemGND Draft RoadMap, Inclusive & Green Transport, Rethinking Housing Supply & Demand, Revitalising Local Communities and A Shorter Working Week for a Gender-Equal Green Transition.
Over the course of this year, our Campaigns Project Coordinator, Roshini, has been running Feminist Green New Deal workshops with women’s organisations around the UK, to find out what their priorities are for inclusive climate action. All these insights are informing the Feminist Green New Deal policy papers and in 2022 we will be launching a Feminist Green New Deal Action Plan.
Next year we will be delivering more Feminist Green New Deal grassroots workshops with women’s organisations across the country and will be publishing policy papers on green jobs, the role of social security in a gender-equal green transition and a Feminist Green New Deal Action Plan.
We also plan to develop our Climate Sisters project to work with more groups and showcase their creative pieces at an event in London in June 2022.
Kate, Roshini and Zarina
SUSTAINABLE FOOD IN TOWER HAMLETS
(Launch of Just FACT programme in July 2021 – attended by Just FACT partners)
It’s been a busy year for the food team. We are working on the ground in Tower Hamlets, East London to help build an equitable, sustainable food system. This includes leading the Tower Hamlets Food Partnership and the Food Grower Network, as well as the Just FACT (Just Food and Climate Transition) community food programme.
So what happened in 2021?
Although we’ve still been mostly working remotely, it’s been fantastic to finally meet residents and all our partners in person again. We were happy to officially launch the Just FACT programme in July and there have been lots of events and workshops happening around the area.
Growing Food in Tower Hamlets
We also continued with our Keep Growing campaign, supporting people to grow their own food. Thanks to some amazing Keep Growing Champions, we had ample seedlings and plants to share with the community at our Sharing event. It was great to see so many people being able to grow vegetables from their balconies, doorsteps and community gardens.
Limborough Food Hub
Limborough Food Hub, comprising a community garden, kitchen and workshop, is becoming an active community space. The Food Store, a pantry for residents and the wider community, is open every week, and we have been running cooking and growing workshops. Recently, we have run a Kimchi and fermentation course and a composting and mycelium workshop.
Tower Hamlets was awarded the Sustainable Food Places Bronze Award. The award recognises and celebrates the Tower Hamlets Food Partnership, which is collectively achieving significant, systemic change on a range of key food issues. We’re also excited that Tower Hamlets Council was one of the first to sign the Glasgow Food and Climate Declaration at COP26, showing leadership on linking its food system to the climate emergency
In 2022, we will continue to co-produce new ways to make food equitable, sustainable and joyful for our community, and advocate for policy change.
Jo and Elle
We have launched a new campaign calling for greater transparency and regulations for ALL period products. We have been working with Natracare in 2021 and jointly wrote an open letter to the UK government, which has to date been signed by 17 other organisations and had some very positive responses from an MP and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to address regulation for all period products.
Launch of a petition
We’ve also launched a petition on change.org, which we hope you will sign. In October we convened Environmenstrual Week with an online panel event alongside other online events. It was great to see the conversations around periods, health and the environment amplified across social media.
In 2022 we plan to develop work with councils to provide not only free reusable products such as menstrual cups and pants, but also to devise education programs around how easy they are to use and care for. We are also hoping to expand the environmenstrual work to include continence products and address other issues to do with “environmenopause”.
Helen and Heidi
We’re really pleased that the Soil Sisters project is back up and running. The team are delivering regular therapeutic gardening sessions in 5 women’s refuges in East London. They are collectively creating beautiful gardens to help women and their children connect with nature and to help them move forward after traumatic experiences.
Shaheda, Bernadette, Maria
REAL NAPPIES FOR LONDON
Real Nappies for London comes back to Wen!
In the same year that the UN Life Cycle Initiative endorses reusable nappy use, Wen has taken back the Real Nappies for London scheme as an addition to its campaigns team.
Reusable nappy vouchers
939 families living in the London Boroughs of Bexley, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington, Lambeth and Waltham Forest have redeemed a reusable nappy voucher to purchase reusable nappies or sign-up to a washable nappy laundry service, with Waltham Forest so far leading the year with 163 vouchers redeemed and Hackney, coming up second with 132 vouchers redeemed. There are still 638 reusable nappy vouchers circulating to be redeemed.
Between 1st Jan – 30th Nov 2021, Real Nappies for London estimates a proposed 1,145 tonnes of single-use nappy waste in London has been diverted from waste, saving Local Authorities an estimated £106,485 in Incineration with energy recovery costs (based on £93/tonne gate fee, excludes haulage costs).
Out in the community
The scheme has carried out 50 outreach events varying from online reusable nappy demonstrations to online support sessions and in-person nappy demonstrations to ‘Reusable Nappy Meet and Give & Take’ events where parents can pass-on no longer needed reusable nappies, baby clothes and maternity wear for free.
Looking forward to 2022
We have already received interest and active engagement from other London Boroughs to participate with the voucher incentive scheme helping to support Real Nappies for London widen its reach to engage more families get started with reusable nappies. We are also looking forward to taking part with Reusable Nappy Week in April 2022.
Alice, Brynja and Jennifer