Feminist Book Week 2021 Wrap Up

Thank you to everyone who participated in Feminist Book Week this year!

Feminist Book Week 2021 ran from 18 – 22 October, hosted by YWCA Australia, in partnership with Queen Victoria Women’s Centre, Victorian Women’s Trust and Black Inc.

This year, we have taken a magnifying glass to cultural diversity and intersectional feminism in Australian literature and publishing through a myriad of thought-provoking events. Diverse writers, especially those who identify as racially or ethnically diverse, face numerous challenges in publishing. In our blog, we discussed the how the Australian publishing industry exoticizes the writing of diverse writers for the white gaze and creates the compounding challenges of a gender and race pay gap. Speaking with Women’s Agenda at the start of Feminist Book Week 2021, we marked this week-long event as the opportunity to elevate and celebrate the potential of storytelling.

Feminist Book Week 2021 Activities

The inspiring activities planned for this year’s Feminist Book Week included:

  • An online in-conversation webinar between Alice Pung, author of One Hundred Days, and Dr Natalie Kon-yu
  • Write Like a Girl, an online writing workshop for young writers co-facilitated by Maki Morita from the Victorian Women’s Trust and Maninder Kaur, a member of the Young Women’s Council
  • Lunch ‘n’ Learn hosted by Queen Victoria Women’s Centre about feminism and diversity in the Australian literary landscape with Dr Jessamy Gleeson, hosted on Instagram Live

Kicking off our week, our in-conversation webinar created a space for two Australian literary figures to discuss their experiences within the Australian publishing industry. Alice Pung and Dr Natalie Kon-yu spoke about nuanced topics such as colourism, social mobility and gatekeeping within publishing. Our guest speakers highlighted the power of fiction with Rabindranath Tagore’s quote ‘truth in her dress finds facts too tight. In fiction she moves with ease’. For those who missed the live webinar, you can catch up on the recording here.

Maki Morita, facilitator of our writing workshop, shared her thoughts on the week: “It was so wonderful to hear from feminist writers and academics at Feminist Book Week who are advocating for gender equality in Australia’s literary landscape. Our Write Like A Girl workshop run through Victorian Women Trust’s Rosie initiative was a fantastic opportunity to connect with young writers and further our aim of nurturing and providing a platform for emerging feminist voices.”

Dr Gleeson and Dr Kon-yu shared a few laughs with us over Instagram Live and made us ponder whether studying Shakespeare is too pale, male and stale for our literature students today.

Elevating young voices

Feminist Book Week also aims to engage young people in critical and meaningful discussions about books and intersectionality.

As part of our mini book-club, two members of our Y community, Arleen Wilcox (YWCA and CBF member) and Varsha Krithivasan (YWC member), have diversified their reading lists and shared their thoughts on Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other. Have a read of their book reviews here.

One of our Young Women Board Directors, Molly George, spoke with Queen Victoria Women’s Centre about the power of storytelling in breaking down barriers and her top feminist reads. Read what Molly has to say

Celebrating with the YWCA membership

This week-long event would not have been possible without the powerhouse force behind the Y: our YWCA members. Our members participated in all that Feminist Book Week had to offer: learning, being inspired and celebrating.

We tapped into the creative juices and writing talent of our members through our Feminist Flash Fiction on two key topics: diaspora and intersection. Congratulations to our winners Helen Stenbeck and Satara Uthayakumaran!

To celebrate and share our pride in feminist literature, we launched our very first Feminist Book Week tote bag on our YWCA Shop.

It’s been a fantastic week bubbling with inspiration and deep insights as we strive to create a more diverse and inclusive industry that promotes the voices of all writers, no matter their gender or race.

We hope to see you all again next year!

YWCA Australia wishes to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands on which we work, live and play and pay our respects to Elders past and present. We recognise First Nations people as the custodians of the lands, seas and skies, with more than 60,000 years of wisdom, connection and relationship in caring for Country.

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