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The 6th International Conference on Women’s Studies

18th January 2020, the Queens hotel

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.

Thank you for reading.

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4th International Conference on Women’s Studies

20th January 2018

Leeds, United Kingdom

Venue: Queens Hotel, City Square, Leeds, LS1 1PJ


Feminists started to advocate equality and fight for women rights decades ago, and so far we have experienced several waves of feminism. While at the beginning of activism, the issue was in women’s equality in general for women were banned from exercising even basic rights such as the right to vote or work, current feminism is standing up against issues such as glass ceiling (where women can only progress in their careers up to a certain point, but fail to obtain managerial positions), wage gap (where women are paid less for same positions as men), as well as traditional battle against patriarchy that is clearly still alive and well. For example, even though it is legally possible for men to take paternal leaves and stay at home to take care of children and household, it is still women who have these requests approved more often than men, which testifies that patriarchal views of expected roles are still present. In addition, in some countries women are still banned from exercising basic rights such as the right to vote, work in all positions and even the right to drive. While there is a number of men that experience family violence, it is still women who mostly suffer from this type of abuse, while those men who do suffer from it fear reporting it due to expectation that the men is the boss in the house. Nevertheless, with the rise of Far Right political candidates and public speakers started to question Feminism and argue that it fulfilled its purpose, while at the same time re-introducing old prejudices and practices against women where an emphasis is based on their appearance, etc.

The questions the conference addresses are how far have we got, and what needs to be done to achieve true equality of both men and women, and a society where there are no expected roles? Has Feminism failed?

These and other questions were the subject of the conference.

Photos are available on our Facebook page and our Twitter account.