On April 10th -11th 2010, Lilla went to the feminist conference, F at the NSW Teachers Federation. It was the first feminist conference in over 10 years, was open to all genders, and was an amazing opportunity for Lilla people to form connections, organise, participate and learn a whole lot!
The conference was structured around 4 panels: Indigenous Women’s Knowledge, Why is Feminism Relevant?, Power, and Feminist Futures. It also featured over 24 workshops and mini-panels on topics such as Introduction to People of Colour Politics, Veiling, a Women of Colour Story Sharing Workshop, Feminism in Indonesia: How Women Struggle in a Third World Country, and Female Genital Mutilation. Yes it was a packed, vibrant, and sometimes challenging weekend!
Aspects of the conference moved away from tackling oppressions on their own, i.e. sexism was inseparable from racism and colonialism, homophobia, ablism and transphobia. Moreover the following speakers also reinforced the importance of recognising the intersections of these oppressions.
- Filmmaker Darlene Johnson and writer, lawyer and professor Larissa Behrendt spoke on the Indigenous Women’s Knowledge and Feminist Futures panels respectively and about different topics. What stood out from both women’s speeches were the importance of the Indigenous cultural values of listening, respect and reciprocity, and of cultures to Indigenous peoples. Larissa mentioned that while there is women’s and men’s business, neither is prioritised over the other in Indigenous cultures.
- Larissa advised participants to educate themselves about the Northern Territory Intervention through reading the STICS website and searching for the relevant articles on Crikey.
- Liliane Lukoki spoke about the situation for women in Congo.
- Feminist blogger, Chally, talked about the importance of intersectionality for feminism and how it relates to the oppression of people with disabilities, and to sexism and other oppressions.
- One of the most powerful series of moments came from Elena Jeffreys who spoke on the rights of sex workers within an environment of discrimination and sometimes criminalisation. The speech can be found here.
- Writer and performer Candy Bowers from Sydney’s west spoke about how race, class and gender matter in the performance world, and with pride about Campbelltown.
While the bigger panels encouraged a sort of one way learning, the questions to the panelists and the open spaces workshops on a whole range of topics from ageing to veganism, enabled a more equal connection with other participants.
After an action packed conference weekend and from woman-ing a Lilla stall, our vision for Lilla was reinforced. Lilla will learn from amazing women’s groups, and we will facilitate myriad connections between these groups. A bit like F.
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