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Routes to Solidarity

Violet Dickinson, right and friend, Routes to Solidarity delegates.

At a glance

Routes to Solidarity aimed to improve the lives of ethnic minority women affected by poverty, inequality and discrimination in England.


Routes to Solidarity ran from 2009-15 in two phases. Phase one ran from 2009-12 and was funded by the Department of Communities and Local Government, with the aim to improve the influencing power of black and minority ethnic women's groups, particularly in the north of England. The second phase ran from 2012-15 and built on the successes and learning of the first. The second phase aimed to:

  • promote voice and visibility of ethnic minority women's concerns and interests within communities and with decision-makers
  • create the space, learning and actions that help to overcome women's discrimination, inequality and injustice
  • gather evidence that informs and supports the work of specialist, women-only groups, support and services
  • advocate and influence policy that affects women's lives at the local and national level
  • secure greater assets and protection for women in a harsh economic and social climate

 This phase of the project is funded by Oxfam, Unilever and the LankellyChase Foundation.

Project aims

Oxfam has been working to improve the lives of ethnic minority women affected by poverty, inequality and discrimination in England since 2004: 

40% of all ethnic minority women - twice the level of White women - live in poverty, with particularly high rates for women from Black African (55%), Pakistani (65%) and Bangladeshi (69%) backgrounds. Minority and migrant women are more likely to experience poor mental and physical health, domestic violence and other forms of abuse and exploitation, and are less well-paid than their white counterparts. As ethnic minority women represent just 1% of local councillors and MPs, they are invisible in nearly all of our decision-making institutions.

The Routes to Solidarity's tailored programme of training and mentoring is in partnership with women-led groups in the three Northern regions of England (North West, Yorkshire and Humber, and North East) and has developed and delivered a range of initiatives that support, empower and create positive changes for ethnic minority women. Examples of our work include producing research, supporting networks and learning exchanges, organising seminars, and supporting small scale enterprise and policy initiatives.

Routes to Solidarity is proud to be working with a range of grassroots and leading women's organisations including:


Developing relationships with policymakers

Participants are given support in building relationships with policymakers, via face-to-face meetings, as well as through producing policy papers and responding to government consultations, highlighting how to benefit BME communities. During the course of the project we will have introduced participants to over 60 policymakers at different levels. The results of this project will be used to develop best practice case studies, and as a basis for further lobbying activities.

To find out more about the impact of the project in the initial phase, see the Routes to Solidarity project summary.

Why is it important to Oxfam?

Maya Sharma, Routes to Solidarity project officer, explains why Oxfam worked on this project and why it was focused on the north of England.

Empowering BME women

Routes to Solidarity supported BME women to influence policy makers through training and mentoring in campaigning and advocacy skills.