Anita Peña Saavedra
2018-19 Atlantic Fellow for Social and Economic Equity
“Dead women can't vote!” shouted the Sisters Uncut activists who stormed the red carpet at the Suffragette film premiere in London on 7 October 2015. The activists’ aim was to highlight how, despite the advances in women’s rights in the UK since the time period depicted in the film, much remains to be done to address gender inequalities, and especially the unequal impacts of austerity cuts on women experiencing domestic violence.
Sisters Uncut is a direct action group fighting cuts to domestic and sexual violence services in the UK. It was formed by domestic violence survivors and sector workers in 2014, and now has a network of groups across the country. Within the wider anti-austerity movement, Sister Uncut is the only group to explicitly adopt intersectionality as a goal and paradigm of practice.
In our recently published article in The Sociological Review, we examine both the micro-level organisational dynamics and macro-level mobilisation strategies used by Sisters Uncut activists. The findings in the article are the result of a research collaboration in which we used techniques associated with the Participatory Action Research (PAR) methodology. Our starting point in the research was that if we are to understand how movements contest existing power relations and social inequalities, we must not only focus on their public actions, but also examine how they acknowledge and address inequalities within their own spaces as these can affect both the cohesion and viability of movements as well as their ability to achieve wider aims.