The 6th International Conference on Women’s Studies was a truly fantastic experience with several interesting panels and intellectual debates about the position of women in the contemporary world. The best attended and most debated panels were, as it was expected, two panels on #metoo movement where scholars debated issues surrounding the origins of the #metoo movement. For example, Dr Linda Chavers of Harvard University and Kharoll-Ann Souffrant of the University of Ottawa raised an issue as to whether the movement speaks for Black women, in particular, because the movement only received prominence when white celebrities started to campaign and use the hashtag whilst the movement was originally founded by a Black women to capture their experiences of discrimination based both on race and gender. Dr Batya Weinbaum, editor-in-chief of Femspec journal and a prominent American feminist also raised an issue whether the #metoo movement can be taught without teaching the history of women’s liberation. Other scholars who participated in two #metoo panels also debated various practices of sexual harassment that women face and the place of the movement within these debates.
Apart from two #metoo panels, other panels debated a variety of issues that face women today. Therefore, in the panel on ecofeminism Maryse Helber of Erasmus University in the Netherlands, for example, debated the unsustainability of the sustainability debate and activism whereas Dr Martina Topić from the Leeds Beckett University (and the conference organiser for the Centre) discussed the unsustainability of corporate CSR practice. Faris Haddadin debated ecofeminist theory and the need to engage more with radical feminist theory that captures differences between men and women, which is a central tenant of radical feminism and fits into non-essentialist view of many ecofeminists who see ecofeminism as a branch of radical feminism.
Other than three panels above, we also had panels on patriarchy and inequality, women and leadership and women and religion. In all these presentations, we heard about distinctive issues that women face around the world such as, for example, misinterpretation of religion and consequences for women in Nigeria by Hannatu H Maina from the Aramil Foundation in Nigeria, the contribution of the name change towards gender identity by Ajimakin Ifedayo from Kwa-Zulu University in South Africa and many other presentations from around the world. A total of 19 presentations was heard on the 18th of January with participants from nine countries (UK, USA, Canada, the Netherlands, Poland, Nigeria, South Africa, Turkey, India) participating and sharing research. The call for the 7th conference on women will be released soon for January 2021.
The conference will result with a special journal issue with a topic of #metoo: past, present and what next edited by Dr Martina Topić. The announcement will be released soon.
The conference was covered in live coverage on our Facebook and Twitter pages. You can check for photos and the presentations on our social media.
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