When International Women’s Day rolls around, people spend a lot of time reflecting on the many feminist achievements that have happened in the past. But how does this change take place?
Ciao spoke to Inner Westies Courtney Thompson and Subeta Vimalarajah, founding members of fEMPOWER, a group working in schools to ensure positive change continues into the future.
fEMPOWER was created to fill a gap in the high school education, whereby the organisers felt feminism was only included as a static historical movement, with no reference to the ongoing challenges of gender equality.
“We wanted to create a more meaningful way of engaging students about gender equality whereby talking about this stuff in the classroom becomes the rule rather than the exception,” says Subeta.
The organisation, run by five young feminists and a group of eager volunteers, now presents workshops for high-school students across the state, covering the ins and outs of intersectional feminism – a topic that can seem daunting for teenagers.
“Seeing kids have the chance to discuss topics or ideas that they’ve felt they haven’t been able to express or explore before is very rewarding,” says Courtney.
“I think when you give them the chance, kids have some really insightful things to say and encouraging them to flesh out those ideas is incredible.”
Despite each school providing different challenges, Courtney says there are some topics and activities that are relevant across the board, such as talking about how constructions of femininity and masculinity influence the media, the importance of consent in sex and body positivity.
When asked what they would have loved to been taught in school, the answer is simply “intersectional feminism”.
“fEMPOWER was born out of asking ourselves that exact question, so the existence of our organisation is basically us trying to provide a solution to our own question,” says Subeta.
To get involved with fEMPOWER or to request a school visit, go to their Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/fempower.workshops