'I think a lot of people believe sexism in the UK is inconsequential,' explains Hannah Philp, the founder of . 'Yet the facts speak for themselves.'
She's not wrong. Every year in the UK, more than 2,000 people referred to as victims of trafficking or survivors of sexual/gender-based violence are routinely detained with the majority of women seeking safety being locked up without adequate representation.
On top of that, 8% of women still live in persistent poverty. Such is the power of #MeToo, it can be easy to forget that across the UK women are struggling on a day-to-day basis.
Yet, Her Stories - a benefit auction for women, by women - hopes to change that. The organisation campaigns to help women who have been failed by our society.
Now in its second year, Her Stories invites women and non-binary artists to donate works, which will then be sold via auction. All funds raised (last year they reached an impressive £30k) will go directly to three selected UK-registered charities who provide support services to some of the UK’s most marginalised women. They include, , who are committed to helping pregnant women, , who challenge the injustices experienced by women who seek asylum in the UK, and , who focus on fighting human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
The idea came from founder Philp feeling frustrated with the idea of a feminism that’s all talk and no action. She wanted to help, whilst also drawing attention to the challenges faced by women in the UK.
'The arts are a powerful fundraising tool for that reason,' she explains. 'Four years ago I set up and ran the East London Fawcett Group, and ever since then I've been interested in how stories are told through art; it's a really powerful way to establish empathy.'
Besides, revealed an existing gender imbalance in art auctions - of the top 100 artists whose works fetched the highest amounts at auction in 2017, just 13 were women. Why not kill two birds with one stone?
From British painter Chantal Joffe's large-scale figures, to Queen of Instagram (and photography) Juno Calypso, there's an incredible range of female artists on show.
'It was important to include young and older women, with different ways of presenting themselves, and women from all different walks of life,' explain Philp.
Picked by Monica Fernandez-Taranco of Stuart Shave, other artists also include Zoe Bedeaux, Rafaela de Asciano and the radical feminist artist Linder.
The initiative aims to redress underrepresentation in the art world, but why focus on supporting women seeking asylum and refuge? Why this year?
'It's about responsibility and accountability for what is happening in our country,' explains Philp. 'Ignorance drives bigotry but I think most people are good-hearted.'
'If only more of us knew about the NHS charges facing pregnant women who spend years seeking asylum in the UK. Or the circumstances at Yarlswood Detention Centre, where around 2,000 women seeking safety in the UK are locked up. Or the fact that survivors of sex trafficking have only 45 days in shelter to recovery once their stories are believed.'
Fancy bagging a one-off piece of art? You can bid online until 13th November, while the works will be exhibited at Protein Studios in Shoreditch, east Manchester from 8-11th November.
Her Stories will also be holding a series of event in November, including an and live auction at The Arts Club on Dover Street supported by , and a party on 9th November (also at Protein Studios). For more information head .