FiLiA Statement: in support of a woman’s right to speak
Since the beginning of recorded history, women have been forced or coerced into silence.
‘If a woman speaks disrespectfully (?) to a man, her mouth shall be crushed with fired brick, and that brick will be hung at the main gate’
c. 2350 BC Urukagina’s Code
Women and girls have been fighting patriarchal oppression for thousands of years. Patriarchal state laws, religious instructions, institutional and cultural norms combine to quieten, shape or silence our voices. Where we make even small gains, the backlash is fierce.
We have a right to speak out on issues that affect us, and it is incumbent upon those in positions of power to ensure that we are listened to and heard.
FiLiA is concerned by recent attempts to prevent discussion of the Gender Recognition Act. It is not acceptable that individuals and women’s organisations are unable to openly and freely explore the impact of this potential change in law on our lives.
Mary Beard points out that ‘women, even when they are not silenced, still have to pay a very high price for being heard’. That price is being felt in the form of threats, actual violence, withdrawal of speaking opportunities as well as the fear of loss of funding, job security and reputation.
FiLiA stands by Heather Brunskell-Evans and others who have stepped forwards; determined to uphold the principle of democratic debate and healthy discussion.
FiLiA is proud to provide a feminist space for women from all over the world to come together and share their views, respectfully and with the recognition that in order to be effective in creating positive change for women and girls – we must immerse ourselves in those difficult discussions; not be prevented from allowing them to happen.
In sisterhood and solidarity,