UK Feminista Summer School 2010

Monday, 2 August 2010
















I spent my weekend in London learning about organizing, campaigning and engaging with politicians and the media as part of UK Feminista's Summer School, an event aiming to provide activist training and networking opportunities for those of a feminist bent. I think it must have achieved what it set out to do because I've returned home full of ideas, confidence and motivation and having met some great people. Looking on Twitter it's obvious that plenty of others feel the same and have been able to take such a lot away from just two days of seminars and discussions.

Day One - Saturday - kicked off with a panel discussion entitled The Importance of Feminist Organizing, chaired by Tonya Boulton of the Women's Networking Hub. Karin Robinson from Democrats Abroad, Gwendolyn Sterk from the UK Joint Committee on Women and UK Feminista's own Kat Banyard talked about the reasons we need to be organizing and campaigning for women's rights and the positive changes it can effect. Karin brought some inspiring examples from her work on Barack Obama's presidential campaign and spoke of the need to 'respect, include and empower' when training grassroots activists.

After lunch I attended a seminar on how to set up and run a group, led by UK Feminista's Ellie Cumbo. This was a valuable step-by-step guide and I could see it was particularly helpful as there were so many women in attendance who were either already involved in a group or looking to set up something in their local area. Later, I listened to Heather Harvey from Amnesty International UK speak on running an effective campaign. She used the example of Amnesty's well-known - and successful - No Recourse - No Safety campaign and again, provided a hugely helpful list of things to consider and remember.

Day One ended with another panel discussion focusing on The Feminist Year Ahead, featuring Denise Marshall from Eaves, the Fawcett Society's Angela Mason and Sharon Jacobs from UK Feminista. One of the main issues they talked about was the fact that women are set to bear the brunt of public sector cuts and what this will mean, but a wide range of ongoing and upcoming campaigns and events dealing with violence against women and reproductive rights were also mentioned. Above all we were encouraged to get people involved, develop our resources and really make clear why feminism is still needed today.

Day Two opened with a panel on Women and the Media, chaired by Jess McCabe of The F Word and also featuring Hannah Pool and Kira Cochrane. As was to be expected delegates had so much to say on this topic and the discussion could definitely have continued for much longer. Topics covered included under-representation of women in the media, the reception that women writing comment pieces receive, the 'long hours', 'macho' culture of newspapers, the popularity of 'women vs women' features and the way feminism is reported.

Immediately afterwards I attended a seminar with Joanna Inskip of Media Trust's Community Newswire, entitled How to Use the Media. This was absolutely invaluable, even for those of us who already have some media experience - and provided a lot of helpful pointers about how to approach newspapers, what to consider when doing so and how to make sure they publish the story you want to tell. The afternoon session for me consisted of a seminar on influencing politicians with Joy Millward from Principle Consulting and Janet Veitch from End Violence Against Women, who used the example of EVAW's Map of Gaps campaign.

And so the weekend came to an end with a noisy, interesting and controversial feminist Question Time, chaired by Bidisha and also featuring Julie Bindel, Dr Aisha Gill, Sunder Katwala from the Fabian Society and NextLeft and Karen Monaghan QC. Some issues discussed and debated:

- The importance of intersectionality
- Media coverage of feminism
- Academia and the sex industry
- Whether or not the movement needs visible 'leaders'
- Responsible reporting and the notion of the 'good victim' in cases of violence or abuse
- Breaking down elitism
- Is it time for 'less talk, more action?'
- How we should respond to anti-feminists
- Progressive men and how we should include them
- The importance of working together and being united despite differences and what we want to label ourselves as

There were many more seminars that I couldn't attend but I'm sure that other women will be blogging about them very soon (if they haven't already).

One issue raised by a couple of people was that they want to make the move from 'armchair feminism' to activism and getting involved, but were unsure what to do next. As someone who was in this position a couple of years ago, I can say this: it seems overwhelming at first, but there are so many 'first steps' you can take which are a really good starting point. Joining a group. Getting involved in a campaign. Starting to network - even if that means Twitter. Starting up a blog. Talking to your friends about it. Using your strengths and skills, whether that's writing or speaking or caring or performing arts or music or teaching.

There are also more regional groups springing up than ever before. At the weekend we got the opportunity to network with other women from our geographical area and many new connections and plans were made. Before Summer School I'd been having a lot of thoughts about the possibility of a campaign to challenge the way newspapers report rape cases (and in particular false allegations) and how this affects public perception of rape victims. I now feel so much more inspired, encouraged and motivated to get this off the ground. I also had some great conversations with new acquaintances which I hope will lead to good things in the future.

If you didn't attend you'll soon be able to look at resources from the conference on the UK Feminista website. And if you're reading this and have blogged about Summer School, drop me a comment with the link to your post please! Some photos are already up here.

21 comments:

soisaystoher said...

Hannah, I'm glad you were there. I really intended to try and look out for you as I love your blog and it looks from your synopsis that we went to almost exactly the same seminars! I guess there was just a big enough crowd there to not quite be able to spot you :O) Maybe next year they could add a seminar on blogging so all us bloggers could get together and say 'oh wow, so THAT'S who you are!' Kellie

文王廷 said...

Learn wisdom by the follies of others.............................................................

harrogatefeminists said...

Thanks for this excellent summary of the summer school - am excited to find your blog today as I met you there! although I can't remember if it was the saturday or the sunday.

Sarah

熙又陽辰 said...

It is easier to get than to keep it.......................................................................

marta lucy summer said...

an excellent summary! as requested, my much less detailed write-up is here: http://womenfiredangerousthings.blogspot.com/2010/08/uk-feminista-summer-school.html

Anna said...

Wish I could have made it. If only because maybe I would have been able to find a group that meets in London! Surely there is one that's active & has an open policy??

abi said...

Hey sister,
was lovely to meet you and hear about your research. It's such an important issue you're tied in to and I look forward to tracking your observations and findings now i've found your blog. Maybe this'll be the hooking of me, I've promised myself to have another go at the blog! Off to find some of the other blogs you recommended.
in solidarity
abi

Hannah Mudge said...

Kellie, i'm sad i missed you! I think some sort of netowkring seminar would be a really good idea actually as although some people had the chance to chat, lots more didn't.

Sarah, yes we met on the first day :) I hope your fledgling group is getting off to a good start. It was so good to hear about all the groups springing up.

Thanks Marta, great post by the way! I need to add some links at the end of this post.

Anna - on the UK Feminista website there is a link to a map of all the groups in the UK which might be of some help? I know there are various groups in the London area but it depends on what sort of thing you're looking for i imagine.

Hi Abi, nice to see you here :) It was lovely to meet you and I hope the weekend really inspired you - it sounds like you have lots to be focusing your energies on!

Delilah said...

Hi Hannah, good to read your blog. linked to it on my write up: http://delilah-mj.blogspot.com/2010/08/movement-is-rising.html
And Kellie - like the idea of bloggers all meeting up. Great idea. XX

吳彥湛孟修宇 said...

工作,是愛的具體化~~~~努力吧!........................................

姜堯林智超玟 said...

經一事,長一智。經驗是良師 experience is the best teacher.............................................................

三妮 said...

不要讓挫敗把你擺平,再給自己一個機會,從新再出發............................................................

王辛江淑萍康 said...

河水永遠是相同的,可是每一剎那又都是新的。..................................................

v惠王王王娟 said...

我是天山,等待一輪明月。......................................................................

凱v胡倫 said...

財富並非永遠的朋友,但朋友卻是永遠的財富。......................................................................

凱許倫 said...

愛情是一位偉大的導師,教我們重新作人..................................................................

怡屏 said...

回應是最大的支持^^y~~~甘吧嗲............................................................

怡屏 said...

唯有用熱情、用智慧去觀察事物,這事物才會把他的秘密,洩漏給我們......................................................................

沛汝 said...

這一生中有多少人擦肩而過?而朋友是多麼可貴啊!......................................................................

怡靜怡靜怡靜怡雯 said...

來看你了~心在、愛在、牽掛在,幸福才會繁衍不息^^...............................................................

佳張張張張燕張張張張張 said...

生存乃是不斷地在內心與靈魂交戰;寫作是坐著審判自己。..................................................

 

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