London Black Women’s Project (LBWP) was established in 1987 as a women-only black feminist organisation to serve the needs of all BMER women and girls in the community. We work to secure the highest level of quality services towards protecting, promoting and developing the rights and resources of women and children from BMER communities providing advice, guidance, support, and accommodation under a framework of empowerment and self-sustainability, by influencing and affecting change in government policy and, by providing a safe environment.

LBWP promotes zero tolerance and work towards building a non-violent society where women and children are safe. For the last 5 years we have an evidenced an increase in the need for our services due to the austerity cuts that have disproportionately affected black women’s specialist services thus denying many women from BMER communities access to the vital lifelines they need to support themselves and their children.

Lack of access to free legal advice has placed many women in further distress and danger exposure to repeat victimisation and the risk of death. Women with insecure immigration status continue to be the most vulnerable in society because of the additional structural barriers they face including criminalisation resulting from the fact of their immigration status. Young women aged 16 to 17 years are denied access to safety, security and protection from abuse and exploitation because statutory services reject their duty of care towards this age groups.

LBWP fully supports the ratification by the UK government of the Istanbul Convention. It is an important step in the struggle towards equality and justice for all women and girls living in this society. It is critical for black women’s specialist services providing a platform for rights based work against gender oppression, racism, and classism and crucially, a framework to protect specialist black women’s provision. It is particularly the aspect of the convention that addresses all forms of violence against women and protects the rights of women with insecure immigration status who are denied access to services because of the barriers they face that is vital for the work moving forward.

At LBWP we say empowerment is autonomy and self-determination, or the point at which a woman feels that she is gaining in these states of being. The feeling of empowerment supports women to participate fully in social, economic and political life, to achieve and thrive in these realms that may not have been accessible before a woman is empowered. Empowerment is a sustaining force leading to a better life. The Istanbul Convention is a platform for empowerment for all women and girls.