Reflecting on International Women’s Day 2020
March 8th marks International Women’s Day – a day to celebrate women as the amazing people they often are. Last year, we hosted needle felting craftivist sessions on the ‘living staircase’ in the Newcastle University Urban Sciences Building. This year, we tried something different.
We hosted our first ever film screening and panel discussion event on the 9th of March at The Catalyst building.
Julie Ballands presented a series of archival footage and films from the North East Film Archives that relate particularly to women.
We started off with some ‘fantastically kitsch’ films that were also incredibly patronising to women (my personal favourite was one that was trying to sell electronics such as hoovers to women!) but quickly moved on to women’s lived experiences in the region. Some of this included footage from Union meetings, women’s involvement and activism during the miner strikes, and scenes from the realities of women and mothers who were forced to move their families during the time when Newcastle’s West End was demolished and people were moved into Cruddas Park and other social housing projects.
What was perhaps most shocking in this footage was that so many of the discussions that women were having are still so relevant today.
Following this archival footage was a shortfilm made up of over 100 clips from the archives titled ‘Born a Rebel’ whch was commissioned by Cinema for All in 2018.
Following the film screening, we had the absolute pleasure of reflecting on the archival footage in relation to activism in Newcastle and the region as it is today. We invited Julie Ballands, the maker of ‘What about hte Women?’ to sit on a panel alongsdie Sally Young, a Social Activist who from the North East, Dr Mwenza Blell NUacT Fellow at Newcastle University and activist, and Dr Sheila Quaid, Senior Lecturer at Sunderland University and activist.
We started off the panel, asking these amazing women to reflect on the footage we had just seen, and then to let us know about the question they were most sick of hearing before we handed the mic over to the audience to join in on the discussion and raise some more questions. This resulted in an eclictic mix of conversation topics including the necessity of intersectionality, the need for compassionat and active solidarity, lots of talk about socialism, intergenerational learning, digital activism and the importance of meeting up in-person, and some discussions on ‘femwashing’.
We have some more detailed notes on what we talked about on our Twitter account (@fempowertech), so you can read more of our notes there.
To end this summary of our event, we want to say a huge thank you again to our lovely panelists, to The Catalyst for funding our event and allowing us to use their fantastic new venue, and also to every single person who attended the event – it was amazing to share the room with so many curious, conscious, and critical folks!
Angelika, at fempower.tech