“I don’t belong to any equal world, where other women are exercising their rights” – Leah’s story for International Women’s Day

On International Women’s Day 2020 (#IWD2020), we’re sharing the story of Leah, who spoke to us about her experiences as a woman left destitute by the UK asylum system.

My name is Leah. I’m a destitute asylum seeker. I live in Nottingham. I would like to share with everyone my thoughts about International Women’s Day.

The theme of International Women’s Day 2020 campaign is #EachforEqual. An equal world to me is an enabled world. How can I celebrate this important day when I’m trying to navigate a complicated UK asylum process? Because I’m a destitute woman, asylum seeker, my dreams are shattered. I’m not even allowed to work, to have a roof over my head.

I don’t belong to any equal world, where other women are exercising their rights. I have no rights to belong anywhere. I feel worthless and isolated. The indignity brought by being a destitute is of a bitter grief and humiliation for a lone woman to bear.

I admire what other women are doing from a distance, and more and more, I feel I don’t belong to the real world. The real world is for those people who are able to do what they can do, whenever they want to do. But my world is only around me, and I can’t do anything to change it.

So, I don’t think, to other women like myself, who are asylum seekers and destitute, it is fair to belong to this world. And to think of it, UK, is a place where human rights are practiced. But, in this country, my human rights are being controlled. Thank you.

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