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International Women’s Festival begins in Oxford

The 31st International Women’s Festival in Oxford began this term and will involve two weeks of events on the theme of “threads of Liberation.” The fortnight kicked off with the Women’s Liberation Conference which took place on Saturday 29th February.

The main event, “Threads of Liberation” will take place on the 6th of March at 7pm in the Oxford Town Hall. During the evening, a variety of mediums such as dance, music and poetry will be used to showcase the experience of women from a variety of different backgrounds. According to the Festival organisers contacted by Cherwell, Annelise Dodds, Oxford East MP, will be attending and speaking.

The Festival, which will end on the 14th of March, was inspired by the 50th anniversary of the first Women’s Liberation Conference which was held at Ruskin College, Oxford in February 1970. At the original event, women came together and demanded equal pay, improved education, twenty-four-hour nurseries, free contraception and abortion on demand, as well as a commitment to campaign on other issues as they arose. According to a Festival spokesperson, the event aims to “celebrate and support women’s struggles as well as their creativity.”

A spokesperson for the Oxford International Women’s Festival Collective told Cherwell that the event the Women’s Liberation Conference, which was held last Saturday, and according to a Festival spokesperson “encouraged many women to question women’s role in society and to campaign for women’s equality and equality of opportunity.” There was some controversy regarding the event as Oxford History Professor, Selena Todd, was allegedly asked by organisers not to speak.

Over the course of the next fortnight, events will aim to showcase the progress made by women as well as to highlight the different experiences of women from a variety of backgrounds. A diverse range of events, such as discussions, exhibitions, marches, action days, retreats and film nights, will celebrate the diversity of women.

A workshop on Saturday 7th March from 10am will educate people on FGM. The workshop, organised by Oxford Against Cutting, will according to a spokesperson “use creative arts projects and advocacy to raise awareness of FGM and other harmful practices.”

On Sunday 8th March, a walk from Oxford City Centre to Cowley Road has been organised to raise awareness about violence experienced by women. Starting at 6 pm, the event aims to “Walk aimed to reclaim spaces women may avoid for fear of violence, sexual harassment or rape, and to raise awareness about violence against women.” Although all are welcome at the celebration on Cowley Road, the walk is women- only.

An exhibition on Afrikan Amazon women will take place at the Fusion Arts & East Oxford, Community Centre from the 3rd March until the 14th March. The exhibition will feature “unsung heroes” as well as the women of the Windrush Generation.

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