NOWSA Time To Talk Women

30 June 2013

Registration has opened for the 2013 Network of Women Students Australia (NOWSA) Conference at the University of Melbourne on 15-18th July.

The annual conference for women students was established in 1987 and places a focus on discussion and skill-sharing. The theme for the 2013 conference will be ‘Problem? Patriarchy. Solution: Smash It!’.

The University of Melbourne last hosted the conference in 2006, when the introduction of Voluntary Student Unionism resulted in a poorly attended conference.

UMSU Wom*n’s Officers Amy Jenkins and Mercedes Marsh are organising the conference this time around. Jenkins and Marsh are clearly excited about fulfilling the conference’s potential despite enormous organisational challenges.

“It’s definitely been exciting engaging with different groups in Melbourne—it’s a really good city to have a conference like this,” said Marsh.

NOWSA aims to empower feminist action—driving activism, not just discussion.
“I think that it’s really important, if ever, to acknowledge that feminism is still a thing that is relevant,” Jenkins said.

The conference will feature a different theme each day—with a focus on society, culture, the media, wellbeing and the workplace. Workshops will focus on everything from ‘queering up sex’ to safety on campus. A diverse group of feminist activists and students will be presenters, including National Union of Students (NUS) President Jade Tyrrell.

This year’s conference is designed to be as open and accessible as possible—allowing women with a range of identities and challenges to connect with conference participants. Marsh told Farrago that past conferences have taught her about problems that she didn’t even know existed.

Organisers have placed a strong focus on intersectionality (the connection of different forms of discrimination) for this year’s conference. This is reflected both in the presenters selected and the programs provided.

The conference will provide time for particular groups, such as the queer group, to organise as a ‘caucus’. Non-caucus members will attend a separate ‘pro-caucus’ for allies.

Giving a voice to women from all walks of life has clearly driven the organisers. “I’m really excited to have such an interesting, complex group of women participating in the conference,” Marsh said.

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