Six Important Quotes From London’s Feminist Solidarity Festival

We loved the #5050Parliament mention in #Makers. Massive thanks Sophie Wilkinson

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Intersectional, varied and empowering are just three words to describe London’s Fourth Wave Feminist Activists. As well as campaigning, protesting and organizing in the fight for equal rights for women, the group puts together the annual London Feminist Solidarity Festival, in order to: ‘show that gender equality is important, it’s a priority, and unfortunately, it’s still not yet a reality. This is also a great opportunity to learn more if you’re curious about feminism! If you’re already clued up, bring a friend or relative so that they can get involved too.’

Held in East London’s Hackney Downs park, this year’s festival hosted speakers and performers talking about everything from austerity to abortion rights (or lack thereof), from poetry on penises and rape to discussions about the judicial system and the current housing crisis.

Here are six wise quotes from some of the speakers on the day:

Bridget Minamore, poet, activist and writer, performed a poem on rape which she had removed from her repertoire after an audience member critiqued her for “spending half of the poem humanising the victim”. She detailed the criticism of the poem and how grateful she was for it: “Our minds are changing all the time, and every poem I want to change and fix, but I wanted to show the flaws of each of them, to say ‘Don’t be afraid’. It’s important to call people out and call people in, to say ‘I like you, but this is a dodgy way of putting stuff.’”

Nimco Ali, MAKERS Ambassador and anti-FGM activist for Daughters of Eve: “It felt as if just because I’m Somali, Muslim, from an immigrant background, that the law didn’t apply to me. I said ‘My vagina is as British as anything else!’”

50:50, a group seeking equal representation in the UK Parliament: “There are still more men in the House of Commons than there have ever been women MPs, which is absurd. If we don’t do something about it, it could take 50 more years to gain parity. When representation shapes our policies, 50 years is too long a wait. Having more women at Westminster has meant that issues such as domestic violence, FGM, pregnancy discrimination etc., have risen higher up the political agenda – and this needs to continue, which is why we set up the petition. Men have ruled our past and they rule our present, don’t let them rule our future.”

Labour Behind the Label, activists seeking improved workers’ rights for women in the Chinese garment industry and better awareness amongst British consumers of factory workers’ conditions: “A lot of women work to support brothers in education, brothers’ weddings, a renovation of the house. They work for up to 12 hours and then, when they’re in their 20s, they’re called back home to get married off. Internal migration rules mean they have to leave their children behind so they can have access to medical care and an education. Thousands, millions of families are broken up in this way. The children are called ‘back home kids.’”

Focus E15: “The government’s Planning and Housing Act is a draconian and devastating rule. Things are bad enough already. The solution to the housing crisis isn’t just building more but making what we have fit for purpose.”

Women Against Rape: “We want justice and compensation for what we have suffered and we want to stop these violent men doing it to others. We don’t trust the authorities to say who’s lying and who’s not because they seem to think most of us are lying.”