Monday May 28, 2018

Australia to hold first of its kind ‘Feminist Writers Festival’ at Melbourne in August

The festival aims to break down and challenge the barriers that feminist writers face

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A vintage poster on Feminism. Image source:progressiverags.com
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  • Women make up 50% of the population in Australia, but only have 26% representation in parliament
  • In Australia, women on an average make 17.5% less than men
  • The Feminist Writers Festival will be held on August 27 and 28 in Melbourne, Australia

Feminism is a political movement that involves people campaigning for equality granted towards women. In Australia, they have declared a Feminist Writers Festival, and there is much hype around it. There are some appalling facts in regards to feminism in Australia. In Australia, women on average make 17.5% less than men. Women make up 50% of the population in Australia, but only have 26% representation in parliament. Finally, one in three women has experienced sexual or physical violence in their lifetime.

Keeping these facts in mind it is not hard to understand why people are fighting for equality. Many people have spoken out about it. At the Sydney Writers Festival, Gloria Steinem simply stated, “Just don’t ask us if feminism is still relevant.”

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Openly being a feminist writer in today’s world is no easy task. In fact, often times the few and the brave women who declare themselves as such, are ridiculed. This was the case with Clementine Ford. On January 25, Ford innocently tweeted-

“Writing a book is the hardest thing I have ever done. #homestretch”

Funny Feminist Make Me a Sandwich Poster. Image source: zazzle.com.au
Funny Feminist Make Me a Sandwich Poster. Image source: zazzle.com.au

This received almost instant backlash from Gary Orsum, a YouTube user. Orsum opened his YouTube video mocking Ford, claiming her tweet was hilarious. He then found a sewer worker and addressed him as such, “Excuse me mate, um, Clementine Ford’s having a pretty hard time of it. Would you mind letting her do your really cruisy job as a sewer worker for a week, while you take on the hardest job ever in the world of writing a book and stopping whenever you feel like it to make a cup of tea and get on twitter and abuse men?” Unfortunately for Ford and other feminist writers, the video has over nine thousand views and four hundred likes.

For anyone looking to get into feminist writing, this story can leave a daunting impression of the backlash you will receive for even the most innocent of opinions you may have. It is clear that the world has much farther to go in accepting feminist writers, and hopefully, the festival aids in this movement.

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That is just one example of what feminist writers have to deal with. A clear indicator that something must change can actually be found among the main twelve Australian review publications. When looked into, there is a clear bias regarding male reviewers towards male authors.

The festival aims to break down and challenge the barriers that feminist writers face. They are attempting to, “free people from historic boxes” says Cristy Clark, Chair of the Festival. The festival is made up of a diverse group of committee members, Celeste Liddle (aboriginal origin), Maxine Beneba Clarke (Afro-Caribbean), and Shakira Hussein (Pakistani). Each woman, although having different roots, sets out with the goal to challenge the conventional way people tend to think about writers and their works.

The women passionately backing the festival realize that things will not change immediately. They do hope that they open up channels of communication and support among feminist writers so that change will happen gradually.

-by Abigail Andrea, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @abby_kono

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  • devika todi

    such movements should receive worldwide recognition and support.

  • Paras Vashisth

    This kind of movements helps to aware the people.And it plays an important role in today’s world.

  • Aparna Gupta

    This festival is a success as it is first time a nation has thought to have Feminist Writers Festival.

Next Story

More than 200 Commonwealth Games Athletes Seek Asylum in Australia and 50 Go Missing

More than 200 Commonwealth Games athletes and officials remain in Australia after applying for refugee visas, with another 50 staying in the country illegally.

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indian athletes
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More than 200 Commonwealth Games athletes and officials remain in Australia after applying for refugee visas, with another 50 staying in the country illegally.

The figures were revealed by Immigration Department officials to a Senate committee hearing on Monday night, reports Xinhua news agency.

A total of 8,103 athletes, media representatives and officials arrived in Australia on temporary visas for the Gold Coast event which concluded on April 15, with 7,848 returning home after their stay expired last week, meaning 255 stayed in the country.

Of those who have remained in Australia, 205 were legally in the community on bridging visas as they await approval to stay on a permanent basis. Border Force officials have commenced a nationwide search for the other 50 who have overstayed their visas.

The majority of foreigners seeking asylum in Australia were from war-torn African nations such as Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria. However some members of the Indian and Pakistani teams have also remained in Australia.

Swimmers. Pixabay

Australia’s Department of Home Affairs deputy secretary, Malisa Golightly, told parliament on Monday night that most of the remaining participants “have applied for protection visas”.

“Anybody that is onshore can apply for protection legally once they are here, but of course then they are considered against … the criteria for that visa,” she said.

The temporary protection visas allow the Commonwealth Games participants to stay in Australia for up to three years and receive welfare benefits.

Peter Dutton, Australia’s Home Affairs Minister, said he was disappointed with the number of people who have stayed illegally as they had been welcomed to Australia “in good faith”.

“Australians hate being taken for a ride by freeloaders,” Dutton told Newscorp Australia on Monday night.

Also Read:Indians Among Top Asylum Seekers in the World: International Migration Outlook 2017 Report

“Australia is now obliged under international law to consider these protection visa applications.”

In comparison, only 45 people extended their visas or sought asylum in Australia after the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

–IANS