Irise’s commitment to Racial Equality
Irise works to empower marginalised young women, girls and their communities and considerations of race are critical. We know gender intersects with race, ethnicity, class, income, sexual orientation and disability. For example, we know that BAME (British Asian Minority Ethnic) women are far more likely to be the victims of online abuse in the UK1 and in Uganda the most vulnerable young women we work with face extreme marginalisation because of their gender, ethnic background and disabilities2.
We recognise that there is a gradient of inequality that needs to be understood and addressed if people from all backgrounds are able to live their lives unlimited by prejudice and discrimination. For example, we know Black women in Britain are five times more likely and Asian women are twice as likely to die as a result of complications during childbirth compared to White women3.
More work is needed to understand how period poverty and shame intersect with racial inequality. Work from the US has highlighted that African- American girls start their periods earlier than White girls and that this may be part of lifelong health disparities caused by exposure to disadvantage. If we are to end period poverty and shame for everyone it is essential we understand how period inequality connects with broader work to dismantle intersectional inequality.
The Irise community share a personal and professional commitment to continue to address these complex issues and to work towards a more equal world for everyone.
As an organisation embedded in communities in the UK and Uganda, we know that dialogue across boundaries and divides is critical if we are to recognise our shared humanity and forge a way forward together. In the words of Desmond Tutu, “All of our humanity is dependent upon recognising the humanity in others.”
Over the coming months, Irise will be consulting with members of our team and network to better understand how these issues influence our work, capture what Irise is currently doing well, what we can do better, and develop Irise’s role in enabling dialogue, research and action on this complex issue.
- UNFPA (2017) Worlds apart in Uganda. Available at:
- Knight M, Bunch K, Tuffnell D, Shakespeare J, Kotnis R, Kenyon S, Kurinczuk JJ (Eds.) on behalf of MBRRACE-UK. Saving Lives, Improving Mothers’ Care – Lessons learned to inform maternity care from the UK and Ireland Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths and Morbidity 2015-17. Oxford: National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford 2019.
- Reagan PB, Salsberry PJ, Fang MZ, Gardner WP, Pajer K. African-American/white differences in the age of menarche: accounting for the difference. Soc Sci Med. 2012;75(7):1263‐1270. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.05.018