Publication of new book showcases the strength and lived experience of South Asian women

A new book celebrating the resilience of South Asian women in Ealing has been published.

“Experiences of South Asian Women – Stories of Health, Community and Joy” shines a spotlight on women, from a range of linguistic and faith backgrounds and their relationship with their health and wellbeing, including over the Covid-19 pandemic.

The objective of the book is to influence how healthcare services are planned and delivered in the borough and beyond. It also depicts the power of community and the spaces that these women have created to share their experiences.

The publication features interviews with local women who each talk about what mental health means to them and the steps they take to ensure they prioritise their wellbeing. The local women featured are Bainti, Elizabeth, Lakhinderpal, Narinder and Surinder.

The work is the culmination of a research project and ‘Chai & Chat’ sessions which took place across the Borough of Ealing to create safe spaces for South Asian women to share their experiences of the pandemic, including mental health and financial inequalities. These spaces were integral in bringing together different communities of South Asian women in their local areas to share, discuss and learn from one another’s journeys.

This partnership project involves Ealing Council, NHS North West London, Southall Community Alliance and The Young Foundation. It was led by Voices of Colour & Expert by Experience with support from the Institute of Development Studies. It was funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council.

Indy Sira, Director of Voices of Colour said:

“We are proud to be publishing this important piece of work, after many months of collaboration.

“The findings from the survey, interviews and the Chai and Chat sessions showed the impact the pandemic was having on participants’ mental health, including from financial worries. They highlighted a need to improve access to health-based services.

“We look forward to working with a range of partners, including Ealing Borough Council, to help address these challenges. This book is dedicated to the amazing, warm and resourceful women featured in the book – to their strength, joy and collective wisdom. Also, as someone who has grown up in Southall, it’s been personally important to make sure these stories are being heard and listened to”

Megan Schmidt-Sane from the Institute of Development Studies, said:

“We hope the book plays a part in influencing how healthcare services are planned across Ealing and surrounding areas and to recognise the unique needs of South Asian women and how they access care.

“We hope that the book will bring into public discourse, lived experiences and insights, that are rarely discussed in mainstream platforms.”

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