Friday November 15, 2019

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
  • 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

ALSO READ:

 

  • 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

Vietnam and Australia to Start Collaborating on Science Initiatives

The winning teams are three different pairs of universities, one from Vietnam and one from Australia, that will work together

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Vietnam, Australia, Science
In the Pacific Ocean, a sea cucumber deploys its upright 'sail' to use current energy to transport itself along the sea floor. VOA

From sea cucumbers to cancer research, Vietnam and Australia will start collaborating on science initiatives that are meant to show how innovation can be used to spread out the benefits of economic growth evenly to more of the population.

The Australian government has given more than 1.6 million Australian dollars to the three winners of a competition it co hosted with the Ministry of Science and Technology of Vietnam as part of its so-called Aus4Innovation program. The winning teams are three different pairs of universities, one from Vietnam and one from Australia, that will work together on scientific research.

“The innovation partnership between Australia and Vietnam has proven to be an effective mechanism for the two countries to share best practice and models to enhance the innovation systems in both countries,” Vice Minister Bui The Duy from the Ministry of Science and Technology said at the award ceremony in Hanoi last week. “We hope grants provided under the Aus4Innovation program will set examples of how innovation – particularly when it can jointly [be] developed and implemented – can transform our society and deliver economic, social and environmental sustainability.”

One of the grants will center around sea cucumbers, a long spindly marine animal commonly cooked in Asian cuisine, whether fried on their own, or braised with mushrooms and Chinese broccoli. Scientists who received the grant are researching how to produce a hormone they believe can increase the productivity of sea cucumber farming. This matters to Vietnam because it wants its farmers to increase productivity so they can make a sustainable living while not draining so many resources  to harm the environment. At the same time, this product could raise questions of nutritional ethics among those who want minimal hormone and other human intervention in their food.

Vietnam, Australia, Science
The Australian government has given more than 1.6 million Australian dollars to the three winners of a competition it co hosted with the Ministry of Science and Technology of Vietnam. Pixabay

The grant recipients are researchers from the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) in Australia and the Research Institute for Aquaculture No. Three (RIA3) in Nha Trang, a touristic beach town along Vietnam’s south central coast known for its many islands.

They competed among 115 groups in Vietnam that applied for the grants and were selected based on their “potential positive economic and social impacts,” the Australian embassy in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, said in a press release.

Another of the three winners is a collaboration between the University of Sydney and the National Health Strategy and Policy Institute (NHSPI) in Vietnam, which are working on a way to improve methods to diagnose breast cancer.

Finally, one of the winning teams will use technology considered part of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” to improve water supply monitoring and treatment. The specific technology was not described, but considering the application, this likely means “internet of things” devices, which are devices such as sensors that have chips to connect them to the internet, so data can be collected. The team is from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and the Vietnamese National University of Engineering and Technology (VNU-UET).

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“Deeper, stronger ties between our innovation systems is a key goal for our strategic partnership with Vietnam,” Rebecca Bryant, a charge d’affaires at the Australian embassy, said. “I’m delighted to see more and more collaboration between the research institutions of our two countries.” (VOA)