NOWSA 2013

 

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Amy is in her second year as one of the Wom*n’s Officers at the University of Melbourne Student Union and a former NUS State Branch Women’s Officer. 

An Arts student majoring in Spanish & criminology, contrary to her parents’ concern, she does not intend to work in a Mexican prison upon graduating (though, really, a job would be great. Anywhere. Preferably not earning 83c to every dollar a dude earns.)

She’s a feminist who is frequently angry, but not an “angry feminist” per se, and should probably stop saying “yolo” when changing lanes because her passengers find it quite disconcerting.

So NOWSA is coming up.

 

NOWSA- the Network of Women Students Australia- is a conference that happens every July that is open to all students who identify or have experienced oppression as women.

It’s in the same month as NUS’ Education Conference (“EdCon”- Adelaide – July 10-12), Queer Collaborations (“QC”-  Sydney – July 8-14) and Students of Sustainability (“SoS”, Launceston July 4-9). July is chockablock with activism, probably because winter’s the best time to let the fire rage within you (and also it’s when we don’t have class and aren’t going to the beach). They’re always organised by student collectives, have groups of students who are passionate about the same stuff and often have different ideas about how to get it done. It means a trip away, a free t-shirt, a bar tab at times, meeting awesome people and talking about stuff that interests you and learning heaps about stuff you didn’t even realise there was to know. Call me a hack, but I freaking love conferences.

 

So I’m really excited to be organising NOWSA this year with my co-Wom*n’s Officer Mercedes and our collective. That is, when I’m not losing my shit about spreadsheets (n.b. without spreadsheets there is chaos, I have a lot of feelings about this.)

 

NOWSA is an opportunity for networking and skills-sharing among women grassroots student activists. Even though activists look dramatically different now to which ever “heyday” we’re told was around before us; meeting other women, sharing stories, having debates and planning campaigns in person are still important.

 

The feminist movement, and the student movement, can get really caught up in semantics and feels. For the most part, talking about experiences, interrogating privilege, and addressing problematic language is really important on an academic and emotional level. Questioning the status quo, not being silent about our own oppression or that of others, are feminist acts. Radical acts.

But we are disempowered if we spend a week talking about eating disorders and sexual assault without taking the next step and skilling ourselves up to be activists and empowered individuals. Always thinking about the problems can be exhausting; you can become catatonic with caring and give up because it’s all too hard so why bother.

It’s also worth thinking about how much of a privilege it is to sit around for a week talking about how fucked everything is and not do anything about it.

 

So the focus of this year’s NOWSA is practical activist skills, because we all know what the problem we’re talking about is: patriarchy. So how are we going to smash it?

 

In the mornings we will have seriously impressive women as key note speakers, and in the afternoons workshops including but not at all limited to: event organising (like flashmobs and rallies), financial planning for independence, creative writing and subversive theatre, Blue Stocking Week, Muslim Feminism, (Dis)ability and Sexuality, Intersectionality, Experiences of Iranian Women Postgrads, How to be a Good Trans* Ally, How to be a Supportive Friend in a Crisis (mainly focusing on sexual assault), How to Plan a Campaign, How to critically engage with media, how to use the media for your campaigning, and heaps of stuff about unionism and your rights at work.

 

NOWSA will be a four-day conference, with a theme for each day:

Women & SocietyWomen & Wellbeing, Women in Culture/Media & Women in the Workplace.

 

We’re updating the website as speakers confirm: nowsa.org/workshops

If you want to run a workshops or know of someone you think would be great please get in contact with uswomyns@union.unimelb.edu.au

 

On the final day (Thursday July 18) there will be a conference floor where resolutions will be passed for NOWSA 2014. There will be an opportunity for campus collectives to bid to host the next NOWSA and voted on by conference floor. (If noone bids NOWSA doesn’t happen again. Just sayin’)

 

So come, it’ll be great. Check out the website for more info and email womyns@union.unimelb.edu.au with any questions.

 

Registrations are now open: nowsa.org/registration/

 

In sisterhood,

 

Amy Jenkins.

University of Melbourne Student Union Wom*n’s Officer 2013

 

 

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