Yesterday, our Head of Media, Jenni, had the privilege of attending the ‘WOW (Women of the World) – What Next?’ event at Hull University hosted by the fantastic and talented Jude Kelly, CBE. The event was to be an evening of discussion, creativity and collaboration to have our say in the national conversation around local communities role in gender equality.
You may have heard of WOW (Woman of the World festival) from Hull 2017 where attendees could take part in discussions and panels, see fantastic female performances, hear from well-known names in popular culture and locally, and much more.
We heard from some fantastic women in Hull last night, with most getting the opportunity to take the microphone to offer their perspective on the conversation around gender. There were inspiring moments but also difficult moments, as a primarily white gender-normative female audience, where we had to face our own privileges in the gender equality conversation.
Interestingly, we had been posed a question which I would like to hear more people’s perspectives on:
Do we have enough spaces for women, girls, boys and men to come together and have a voice, to discuss difficult topics, to move forward as a city and create more equality?
My personal perspective? I would say no, we don’t. As a young woman, as it is only through creating my own friendships with other women in the city in the past year have I had safe and supportive spaces to speak openly from female experience. Although I am aware of different spaces in the city, such as female professional networking groups, I have always felt they are targeted at an older crowd or not positioned to be welcome to everyone.
When I say this, I mean it with love and not as a complaint, as I believe that the existing spaces are essential, but if given the opportunity then as a city, we would create more spaces, online and in real life, suited for anyone to be a part of.
This whole event got me thinking after Jude posed another brief point. The room was filled with women, some groups from work, some in pairs, some with family members and others alone. In the room I counted two men (aged over 30) and two male teenagers, all having been brought along by family or school. Jude asked if we were to ask our partners, fathers, sons and male friends whether they would attend this event with us. Interestingly, I knew that it was unlikely. The men in my life wouldn’t scoff, but they would say something along the lines of “it’s not really for me is it?”. And they would be wrong.
This event shows, boys and men are equally a part of the gender conversation as any girl or women is, as we will make change slower on our own.
In Hull, we need spaces for men, boys, women, girls, non-binary, trans and LGBTQ+ people to be a part of the conversation, whether they identify as feminist or not. Somewhere to have productive discussions with the focus to push forward in changing the world for women and with the gender equality conversation no longer needing to be a conversation to have.
I will leave you with a great point, brought up by one of the men who attended the WOW event last night, so to paraphrase:
“Men often think that equality is like a pie; if women want more of it then men are going to have to give up some of their share. That isn’t true, equality is an endless resource, and I think we need to realise that”
Jenni would like to know what you think of her points in this blog, especially about Hull’s lack of spaces for conversations around gender equality, and your experiences with gender equality. (If there are spaces she doesn’t know about, she wants to be a part of them!)
If you are interested in creating a regular space for discussion like the one we had last night, then please do get in touch with [email protected]