Research call on institutional public harms facing Black Women


The Fawcett Society is partnering with Black Equity Organisation (BEO) to research the institutional harms caused to women and girls, in particular Black women and girls, across our public services.

The Black Equity Organisation (BEO) is a civil rights organisation and anti-racism charity, co-founded by prominent black Britons including Vivian Hunt, David Lammy and David Olusoga. It was officially announced as a first-of-its-kind civil rights group for the UK in 2022, two years after the George Floyd protests and resulted in the removal of statues across the UK of figures associated with the transatlantic slave trade. The organisation is intended to serve a similar purpose to the NAACP in the United States, with the aim of dismantling systemic racism in British society.

The Fawcett Society is a charity which campaigns for women's rights. The organisation dates back to 1866, when Millicent Garrett Fawcett dedicated her life to the peaceful campaign for women's suffrage. Originally named the London National Society for Women's Suffrage, and later as the London Society for Women's Suffrage, the organisation was renamed The Fawcett Society in 1953.

The Call for Evidence

As part of the Call for Evidence campaign, the Fawcett Society and BEO would like to hear from women aged over 18 about their experiences of contact with policing, education, and/or mental health services. The research will be interested in hearing from women of all ethnicities, but particularly encourage Black women to share their experiences.

The project will draw together women’s experiences across three themes: mental health, policing and education, and amplify the experiences of Black women who face the greatest harm within these institutions. At the same time, the research aims to connect with the broader experiences of women from other backgrounds, to reimagine a feminist, anti-racist and anti-discriminatory model for public services.

Phase 1 of the project is funded by the Barrow Cadbury Trust and runs from October 2023 to March 2024. This phase involves the establishment of an Experts by Experience advisory group, a thematic review of reviews looking to draw out similarities and shared learning from reports such as Ofsted, Casey, and Modernising the Mental Health Act., and a call for evidence.

According to Timi Okuwa, CEO of Black Equity Organisation, “We have seen Black people being let down and suffering at the hands of public services. We have been failed by institutions whose purpose it is to serve and protect the public. Working together on this project to gather evidence and understand Black women’s experiences of using public services, and what may be needed to make these services safer for women is vital and will make an impactful change on our public services.”

Public services have been built around a particular set of needs and perspectives, a predominantly white male perspective, and that means they can’t properly serve us. We are at a moment where there is potential to rethink the ways that we deliver public services: for women, with women, and anti-racist,” says Jemima Olchawski, CEO of Fawcett Society.

In April 2023, BEO started legal proceedings against Suella Braverman for refusing to implement all the recommendations from the independent review into the Windrush scandal. Legal papers had been sent to the Secretary of State, following her announcement on 26 January 2023 that she would break the promise made by her predecessor and disregard three of the 30 recommendations.

Black Women, in History - Their Hidden Stories was the theme of Enfield Caribbean Association (ECA) Black History Month celebrations in 2021. The event was kicked off with stories from women of the Windrush Generation.

For more information about the Institutional Public Harms Facing Black Women project, contact


Posted: February 26, 2024