Kara shares her experience of International Women’s Day and the WOW festival
March has been a fantastic feminist power week so far with the Women’s March, International Women’s Day, the Sex/Work strike and the WOW (Women of the World) festival at the Southbank.
During this period, I have been fortunate to hear some fantastic and inspiring women speaking. What strikes me amidst all the shuddering awfulness of our current situation with Trump, Weinstein, the pay gap etc, is the resilience and brilliance of my fellow sisters. We still laugh even when we are angry.
I wonder when we are going to stop letting our politeness stop our progress. I definitely feel the pressure to confirm, smooth over to maintain the status quo. Since being a child, I have felt compelled to be polite, go with the flow and not create ripples. However, after this intense week of joining with other women, hearing from other women and seeing some truly kick-ass protest signs I am feeling more empowered and confident to push against and work to begin to change our society for the better. Practical Woman is one way I see myself able to take action as well as calling out sexist attitudes and behaviour where I come across it.
The theme of Mirth Control at the WOW festival was #artsovertit and the night explored the huge inequalities in the arts including sculpture, painting and conducting and composing music. Sandi Toksvig and other women challenged us to find a historic artist and find out about their lives and their works and then promote them. You will read who I have chosen in a future post.
As I left WOW, I felt overwhelmed and deflated. There is still so much to do, and at times it seems completely impossible. I wondered what would happen to light the fire under us and make us do something but I am reassured by the messages of the last couple of weeks – #PressforProgress and #westrike etc.
At Mirth Control Jude Kelly, the founder of the WOW festival and the Artistic Director of the Southbank Centre, discussed the situation abroad (such as Iran where it is illegal for women to sing in the street) and that whilst WOW has gone from strength to strength, her own personal experiences of people in positions of power holding her back is still accurate today. This was from her recent experience of speaking with women in Australia.
Kelly finished by saying that now is the time to put your foot on the accelerator, keep it down and keep pushing. Overall it felt like a sombre night with less laughter and more reflection on the state if the world and all the statistics and facts to show the reality as it is. One horrifying fact is that we have in fact increased the amount of time, by 47 years, that it will take to get equal representation in Government.
I like to think the millennials with their optimism and determination might be the ones to force change and I, for one, will be right by their side.