International Women’s Day 2014 Panel

Posted on 05/07/2014 | in Events, News | by


What is the Future of Feminism?

Nearly one hundred people from across the city of Sheffield and the University met to celebrate International Women’s Day on Friday 7 March 2014 at a debate about the Future of Feminism. organised and hosted by the Women@TUOS Network and Living with Difference project. Rhonda Snook, Chair of the Network, provided a welcome address. Gill Valentine, Director of Living with Difference, then gave a short presentation about the research programme and its findings about sexism and the relationship of this form of discrimination to other forms of prejudice. Participants also had the opportunity to browse a poster exhibition about the Living with Difference research programme and to talk to the research team members.

The Future of Feminism panel was chaired by Libby Purves, eminent broadcaster and journalist and 30 years chair of Radio 4’s Midweek. First up was Bea Campbell, writer and long time columnist at the Independent, frequent contributor to the BBC’s Question Time, who set the scene by describing how she believes we are now living in a new gender settlement, which she is calling a neoliberal neo patriarchy. She asserted that our steady faith in slow progress toward equality is misplaced which demands from us a feminist renaissance.

Dr Zahra Tizro, lecturer at the University of York St John, whose research interest focuses on domestic violence, gender relations and sexuality described how at least 2 women a week die in the UK and 1 in 3 worldwide, as a result of domestic violence, giving feminism a vital and vibrant role in continuing to tackle issues of sexual violence, and media sexism. Dr Finn MacKay, feminist activist for over 20 years including revitalising Reclaim the Night, coherently described how mainstream positions of power remain overwhelmingly in male hands and articulated clearly how the seven demands of the UK Women’s Liberation Movement remain relevant today. Dr Anita Franklin, last up, programme director at the Insitute of Lifelong Learning here at the University of Sheffield reminded the audience on the importance of creating and sustaining feminist alliances, particularly with those women who find themselves struggling with poverty in these times of financial austerity.

Questions from the floor followed tackling issues of maternity leave, how male-dominated cultures need to be challenged and that feminism needs to define itself in order to remain relevant in the 21st century. Inspired and invigorated by the topics of the day, a lively lunch ensued with Firth Hall filled with animated conversations and much spirited networking by the guests present.

The Future of Feminism debate is one of a series of events organized by the Living with Difference project on the theme of The Future of Social Relations. This culminates with an International Conference on The Future of Social Relations to be held 21st- 23rd May 2014, in Sheffield.

Photographs from the day