Cherwell

"The campaign helped me learn so much about gender"

WomCam – the OUSU Women’s Campaign – is a liberation campaign for gender equality that strives to be intersectional (the recognition that many different forms of oppression exist, such as by gender identity, sexuality, skin colour, (dis)ability or socioeconomic background, and taking these into account). We are funded by OUSU and a part of it, with votes in the council and support from the sabbatical officers, particularly from the VP (Women). However, the campaign is autonomous: our committee is elected by everyone who comes to meetings, and anyone can be on the committee (not just self-identifying women). The Women’s Campaign Officer-currently the wonderful Lucy Delaney- is elected in the OUSU elections by self-identifying women, and the role, broadly speaking, is to organise WomCam. However, it’s a non-hierarchical structure, and all members on the committee run WomCam and help organise our events.

Since Michaelmas, WomCam has introduced working groups, including a Queer Women’s group, a Women of Colour group, a Disabled Women group, a group which focuses on homelessness affecting women in Oxford and an International Women’s group, which looks at gender related issues around the world- these are just a handful of the working groups that exist. They provide safe spaces for those who identify with the different groups, or are interested in learning more, to talk about anything and everything and organise events. Last term, for example, the Queer Women’s group held an art workshop which focussed on how people experience their sexuality and gender in relation to their body. The art was then showcased at the weekly WomCam meeting (Mondays 7pm, Okinaga Room at Wadham!), alongside short talks from people about their own experiences, poetry readings and conversations about the art works themselves.

The weekly meetings are a wonderful way to meet people in Oxford to discuss all things feminist: this term has already seen conversations about feminism and the ‘fourth wave’ (and whether ‘waves’ are an appropriate way to categorise the liberation movement), a panel discussion on feminism and the political spectrum, and there are talks coming up about feminism and religion, as well as a collaboration with It Happens Here for Anti Violence Valentine’s Week. WomCam is also organising a club night later this term and a Transgender Awareness Evening (Saturday of fifth week!) as part of LGBTQIA+ History Month. Not only does WomCam provide weekly discussions at meetings, the termly Zine provides a further space to explore issues of gender and intersectionality (last term’s looked at ‘taboos’; this term we’re looking for submissions around the theme of ‘The F Word’). We also launched the Oxford Uni Sexism page on Facebook and on Tumblr, seeking to call out everyday sexism- submissions can be anonymous, and highlighting these experiences prevent sexism from being normalised, and stopping people from feeling alone when it happens right here in Oxford.

WomCam is constantly growing and evolving- in the short time that I’ve been involved more and more people turn up to meetings and actively want to be engaged in the discussions about gender equality, how the campaign can be intersectional and what we in Oxford can do. For me, not only did it help create connections with others who were passionate about the campaign, it helped me learn so much about gender, oppression, the history of the movement and how we can help move it forward. I’m also part of the Queer Women’s group and the Women of Colour group, and having spaces to discuss my own experiences and be involved in activities (like the art workshop, which was so much fun!) with others has been eye-opening and inspirational. WomCam is constantly looking to improve itself and evolve, and we welcome suggestions and collaborations for different campaigns, as well as submissions to the Zine!