My reflections on Scotland’s Feminist Future conference by Gabrielle

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I was recently at Engender’s “Scotland’s Feminist Future” conference. I know, talk about an ambitious name for an event!

The two day conference completely lived up to its title. Engender was launching its long awaited Gender Matters Roadmap, a detailed guide to gender inequality in Scotland and how to fix it. The guide is broken down into 10 main sections, from care to arts, through the labour market and health.

It is inclusive, easy to read, intersectional, and all-round freaking awesome! It also removes the option for politicians to wave their arms in despair and say “oh me oh my, gender inequality is ever so sad, but what could I possibly do to mitigate it?!”.

Well, kind politician, here is something you can read and action straight away. You’re welcome.

But that’s not the only reason why the event was the dog’s ovaries.

Featuring an extremely diverse panel and audience, the conference did a great job of covering a broad range of topics, in diverse settings. In one word, it was fucking-epic (hyphenation makes it count as one word okay? Ask MS Word if you don’t believe me).

As a young feminist who is used to navigating a world that isn’t particularly feminism friendly (euphemism of the year? Mabes….), attending these sorts of events is extremely important to me for different reasons:

1. It’s a great way to learn: while I aspire to become a full time professional feminist, I’m not there yet and still work in the muggle world. So staying in the loop with the most recent happenings can be hard, as it’s all done in my own spare time. These events help bring me up to date and give me lots of reading and research to bury myself in for a while.

2. Omygod I’m not alone! It’s so easy to forget that other feminists are out there. They exist outwith my friendship group. They exist IRL, away from online feminist havens. They are real people who are working on real policies to change the world. And sometimes, on cold, rainy, patriarchal nights, it’s nice to be reminded of that.

3. NEW FRIEEEENDS! *ahem* I mean*professional tone* Very Formal Networking. Meeting other feminist is not only great to remind you that other gender aware creatures like yourself are out there, it’s also a great chance to make new friends and create new projects. I myself got happily drunk after the conference with a woman I met there and we shared our experiences of “how to do feminism” which was fun and inspiring! I also met people working on projects that I am now getting involved with and which I’m excited to contribute to.

4. Forming a community. The feminist community is small and underfunded. It’s not easy to get projects up and running and even harder to get them to spread. Events like these help promote women’s endeavours across the country, and help us all stay informed as to what’s happening and how we can help. Getting to know each other as activists and sharing tips and tricks is essential to build a powerful, interconnected community that can rely on each others’ skills and experiences to grow the movement further.

5. It shows that it’s possible. A space where people listen to each other. Where various communities are represented and have the chance to tell their stories and be listened to with respect instead of judgement. A space where complex, high level conversations can be had in a constructive manner, rather than by arguing and cutting over each other constantly. This space exists. It has been done. So no more bullshit excuses. Next time you complain that it’s too difficult and not feasible, let me refer you to the Scotland’s Feminist Future conference.

If you think you’d benefit from attending events like these, or just want to stay in the loop, consider doing these two things:

  • Become a member of Engender: they send out a weekly newsletter called Friday Feminist Five. The newsletter covers a few main news stories, gives a list of feminist events and opportunities, and collates a whole bunch of interesting articles and links from the week. Excellent source of information!
  • Follow feminist organisations on social media/sign up to their newsletter: they will post when organizing events, looking for volunteers or any other news you are likely to be interested in. Here’s a few to consider following: Zero Tolerance, Close the Gap, Scottish Women’s Aid, Glasgow Women’s Library, the Scottish Women’s Convention, and – of course – The Young Women’s Movement.

Gabrielle Blackburn is one of our fantastic blogging network members. As a cognitive scientist and a feminist activist, she is interested in exploring the roots and consequences of prejudice and bias, especially those relating to gender. She also enjoys good beer, pole dancing, and confusing people with her unidentifiable accent.

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