FIL 2015

See below for information on the sessions that took place at the conference in October 2015. 

SATURDAY 9.15 - 10.00

Dedication to Denise Marshall by her partner Lisa Alabaksh

Keynote speech - Shami Chakrabarti (Director of Liberty)

Women's Rights Are Human Rights

Sophie Walker of the Women's Equality Party

children's workshop (age 7-11, mixed)

Supervised creativity. Children can use fabric paints to decorate tote bags, design paper aeroplanes or draw.


Saturday 10.30 - 12.00

Breakaway Session Options (Pick one)

Freedom from Slavery – a look at trafficking for domestic labour

We often hear about human trafficking in the sex industry or for manual labour. But what about the women and children trafficked around the world for domestic labour? With Silvia Cormaci of Anti-Slavery International, Kate Roberts of Kalayaan, and Rosemary Morris of the Dalit Freedom Network. Chair: Esohe Aghatise, Equality Now.


This session aims at providing an overview of gender equality policy internationally, in the EU and the UK. This includes mapping out historical development, key domains of interest and relating gender equality to broader perspectives such as the economy, well-being or the environment. The session gives visibility of the salience of gender inequalities by outlining what various composite indicators measure and how different countries fare, drawing on the work of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), the United Nations (UN), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Economic Forum (WEF). It concludes by taking a critical look at how intersectionality can be embedded in policy work generally, but also at specific issues such as ethnicity and migration.

With Anne Laure Hubert, Jessica Machacova, Anna Zobnina, Agnes Hubert, Doyin Atewologun Awofolaju and Wendi Momen (chair)

Equality and Austerity: A Contradiction in Terms?

Is austerity compatible with equality?                              
Can neo-liberalism deliver equality and social justice and sustainability?
And is austerity the neo-liberal way of assailing the welfare state and social justice - and, therefore, gender equality?
These are the great questions of our time. For three decades equality has been deemed a universal goal, and yet everywhere inequality accelerates and the prospects of a new sexual division of labour are marginalised defeated by governments and financial institutions. Violence proliferates all over the world and sexual crimes against women and children attract impunity.
But there is hope - there is resistance!
Our panel is led by Beatrix Campbell, acclaimed writer, Green, feminist, whose latest book, End of Equality, argues that there is a new historical settlement: neo-liberal neo-patriarchy - a new articulation of male domination. She is joined by three women who work at the frontiers of the new era and in new forms of resistance to the international banking crisis and the ravages of austerity. Our conversation will address the way the world is now, novel forms of political action and the ways that the politics of gender is being made and is making the new world.

With Beatrix Campbell, Tina Caballero, Ruth Cross (chair) and Marina Prentoulis

A story of women's liberation

Cultural Memory and the Women's Liberation Movement

"What would it be like to have been shown a monument of the women's liberation movement as a child?" Would your pathway to womanhood be different? Yes, it would because as a girl you would have been surrounded by the cultural heritage of the history of women.

While making my film, "Feminist: Stories from Women's Liberation" I began to see that the shared memories, or cultural memories, of the women's liberation movement are largely absent from our society. What few memories we did have were partial, untrue, and often negative. One of the reasons we have this problem is because of the traditional roles of narrator and subject. Narrators frame the story and focus the lens of the camera on the subject. Women have traditionally been the subjects and men, the narrators.

Women and girls have historically seen themselves within the the context of the male viewpoint of history.  We have had to fit in to the framework of great leaders having been carved out by men. We cannot continue to fit in, we have to reframe. We can change this by taking charge of role of the narrator, particularly as it refers to the history of the great women's liberation movement and bring it into full view for all.

With Jennifer Lee, Alice Roe, Rahila Gupta, Jacquelyn Guderley and Polly Russell

Playing in the waves: moving with feminist theory (ages 12 - 18, girls only)

Explore feminist theory through discussion, debate, movement, music and making things. This workshop will take you through the (contested) ‘waves ‘of feminism, and the theory that emerges from them. From Emmeline Pankhurst, to Audre Lorde, from Judith Butler to Nicki Minaj, you will explore and play with the feminist movement(s), and the idea that feminism is something that moves. This workshop will finally invite you to create your own understanding of feminism and what you think matters to young women now.

With Hanna Retallack and Camilla Stanger

children's workshop: women of world war ii (age 7-11, mixed)

An workshop for children to explore the women's history of the Second World War, looking particularly at rationing. Children will be offered the opportunity to taste a National Loaf and home-made jam. 


Saturday 12.30 - 2.00

Breakaway Session Options (Pick one)

Right to a fair trial – can the trial process be improved for victims of sexual violence without denying the defendant a fair trial?

Britain quite rightly has an excellent reputation for ensuring that defendants are given a fair trial in criminal proceedings. With the recent tragedy of a suicide, how can the process be improved for victims? With Felicity Gerry QC, Angela Rafferty QC and Debaleena Dasgupta. Chair: Emily Robertson of Solace Women's Aid.

Women, Peace and Security: Has UN Security Council Resolution 1325 Really Changed Women’s Lot in Peace and Conflict?

2015 will mark the 15th anniversary of the passing of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.  This landmark Resolution addressed not only the inordinate impact of war on women, but also the pivotal role women should and do play in conflict management, conflict resolution and sustainable peace.  Resolution 1325 changed the way the international community thinks about peace and security; however, as we shall explore during this workshop, there is still much to be done to meet the aspirations of this Resolution.
Our speakers will explore some of the horrific ways women continue to be deliberately targeted in conflicts, particularly focussing on the Middle East and South Asia, and the importance of masculinity in fuelling a cycle of violence.  We will critically evaluate the Resolution in terms of its language and implementation, discussing how the international context has been changed by the Resolution and what the next steps are.  We will also look specifically at what the UK has been doing to promote the goals of Resolution 1325.
Speakers for this workshop include Farhana Qazi, an analyst of conflict in the Islamic world; Rothna Begum, a women’s rights researcher with Human Rights Watch; Abigail Hunt, a policy and advocacy manager with Womankind Worldwide; Nicola Pratt, a Reader of the International Politics of the Middle East, University of Warwick and a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom; Lydia Stone, a gender, conflict and peacebuilding expert with Social Development Direct.  The session will be chaired by Vix Anderton, an expert on women, peace and security.

With Farhana Qazi, Rothna Begum, Abigail Hunt, Nicola Pratt, Lydia Stone and Vix Anderton (chair)

Human rights in childbirth

This panel will focus on women’s rights in childbirth, and particularly women’s agency in their experiences of giving birth.  With Milli Hill from the Positive Birth Movement, Rebecca Schiller from Birthrights, Ceri Durham from AIMS and Mars Lord of Doula UK (chair).

Rebel Shamans: Women Confront Empire

Medicine women and seeresses stand out as leaders of Aboriginal liberation movements against conquest, empire, and colonization. This live visual talk looks at how Indigenous (and African Diasporic) women draw on their cultural traditions to resist colonization--and how, by virtue of who they are and where they stand in the social order, their personal power makes the spiritual political.

With Max Dashu

Male allies’ workshop: Gender and the Arts: Engaging Men in Feminism through the White Ribbon Cultural Campaign.

Why are only 24% of UK theatre productions written by women? How should male-dominated cultural institutions respond to feminism? What influence do artistic representations have on gender-based violence? In this workshop, we will explore what responsibilities our theatres, galleries and museums have to positive representations of gender. In collaboration with the White Ribbon Campaign, we will debate the role of the Arts in bringing greater understanding between genders, and its impact on men’s role in feminism. Participants from all walks of life (and arts) welcome!

With Kai Green from the White Ribbon Campaign

Smashing The Glass Ceiling (age 12 - 18, girls only)                

Delegates in this workshop will adopt the READY, STEADY, GO guide to explore the process of setting up a pseudo business. Ideas generation, market research, legalities and finance are just some of the areas covered. Delegates will consider the challenges individuals face when starting a new business and then competing against each other in small teams they will pitch their ideas to a small team of potential investors.

With Gill Owens


Drama games and group scene-playing with Rachel.


Saturday 2.30 - 4.00

Breakaway Session Options (Pick one) 

Unlikely Allies: Religious Fundamentalism and the British State

This session will overturn many long held perceptions about the British state. In its fight against extremism too many institutions have got into bed with fundamentalists and actively promote their narratives. A growing coalition of  secular, left and minority women's organisations has successfully challenged them Two cases to be discussed are successful campaigns against Universities UK policies permitting gender segregation and the Law Society's attempt to promote 'sharia -compliant wills'. These campaigns are part of a global solidarity movement to defend free speech against fundamentalists of all stripes and are seldom reported in the left and liberal press. This session is your chance to hear the left, feminist case for a solidarity movement against fundamentalism and for secularism.  Organised by One Law for All, Southall Black Sisters and the Centre for Secular Space.

With Maryam Namazie, Pragna Patel, Gita Sahgal and Houzan Mahmoud, chaired by Yasmin Rehman

Women in Parliament(s)

50:50 Parliament Panel - We Want Women in Parliament!
There have only ever been 450 women MPs. There are more men in the House of Commons right now than there have ever been women. Men outnumber women by more than 2:1. 45 countries have better gender balance in their Parliaments than the UK. At the current rate it will take half a century to achieve equality in Parliament.

Does it matter that Parliament lacks women and their breadth of experience, knowledge, skills and talents? 
Does it have an impact on women's lives?
Does it affect society?
Does it need a solution?
Should we aim for better gender balance in our Parliaments?
How could this be achieved?
Why aren't there more women at Westminster?

Come and contribute your ideas and participate in bringing about a key historic change.

With Gudrun Schyman of Sweden’s Feminist Initiative party, Italian MP Amalia Schirru, Turkish MP Filiz Kerestecioğlu, Sophie Walker, leader of the UK's Women's Equality Party, Lesley Abdela, Shevolution and Frances Scott from 50:50 Parliament Campaign (chair). Introduced by Dr. Helen Pankhurst. 

Non-state torture: Breaking the silence

Women Speaking Out against Forms of Non-State Torture Victimization.
Linda MacDonald and Jeanne Sarson share their expertise using visual slides, art drawings, and a handout, gained from 22 years of supporting mainly women who report being tortured, trafficked, prostituted, and exploited by family members since infancy or toddlerhood.  Elizabeth Gordon shares her personal testimony of such victimization and her activism. Relationship with Self healing insights will be discussed. Jackie Jones speaks of a need for a binding human rights instrument and law that recognizes and criminalizes non-State torture.  Nimko Ali shares her-story as a survivor of and campaigner for abolishing female genital mutilation (FGM).

With Linda MacDonald, Jeanne Sarson, Elizabeth Gordon, Jackie Jones and Nimco Ali


A workshop in 2 parts -

Part one: small groups of older women brought up as female will meet to reflect on our journeys to feminism and women’s liberation.

Part two: again in small groups we will look at the feminist issues which matter most to us now as older women

With the Older Feminist Network

Male allies’ workshop: Men, sexism and patriarchy (open to all)

Outline of workshop: Working with men to:
A. Address the unaware sexism that we men carry.
B. Identify the benefits, deficits and challenges that Patriarchy presents men with.
C. How to work to undo Patriarchy, promote gender equality and stop being sexist.
This will be a participative workshop where those attending will be expected to be willing to address these issues during the course of the workshop.

With Alan O'Neill from the Men's Development Network

children's workshop: crafting (age 7-11, mixed)

Sharon Semple & Mary Ramsay lead a crafting workshop. All children will make a jumping frog (and race it!) and then be able to choose from other activities including paper beads, magic wallets and pop-up cards.


Saturday 4.30 - 5.30

Practical Sessions (Pick one)

Draft a Bill of Women's Rights

We’re being offered a British Bill of Rights…. allegedly.  What are the women’s rights you would like to see included?  Can we improve on the Seven Demands of the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1970s? Come and help draft one; it will be submitted to Parliament. Convenor: Dr. Sorcha Macleod.

Practical session – Start your own ethical business


Starting a business can be a daunting prospect.  How about making that business an ethical one?  Touching on how to start a business, how to grow it, ethical advertising, social media and much more, this is a group discussion facilitated by Sarah Hewett, founder of Monthlies.

Practical session – Interactive discussion ON CHILDREN'S GENDERED MARKETING


"Blue is for boys and pink is for girls" - what are the implications of gender-binary marketing aimed at children and what can we do about it?

With sex and gender increasingly questioned as a basis for identity, how do children navigate forming their identities with so much gendered marketing around them? What wider implications are there for children as they grow up and make life choices? 
Come and discuss the effects of sexist marketing on children’s play choices, school subject choices and future career choices in this interactive session led by Let Toys Be Toys campaigners and Letterbox Library, where we will crowd-source strategies to challenge sexist assumptions and socialisation in everyday life.

PRACTICAL SESSION - LesbiAN Discussion Group


Being Lesbian. From sinner to saint. An exploration of what it means to be a lesbian. From coming out, to living in a tolerant (?) society. And everything in between. A short talk followed by a question and answer session. 
Group discussion. Women only.

Led by Rowan Dykewood

Reflections on fighting for women’s liberation in the Arab world and Globally: In discussion with Nawal El Saadawi

Preceded by Non-State Torture overview

Described by the Financial Times as ‘The most influential feminist thinker in the Arab world over the past half-century’, Nawal El Saadawi has inspired hundreds of thousands of readers with her beautifully crafted stories and powerful portrayals of female oppression in the Arab world.  To coincide with the publication of new editions of her classic works by Zed Books, she will reflect on a life of fighting for women’s liberation, the relationship between literature and politics, and the challenges which feminists face across the world today.  A new film has just been released about Nawal and the trailer with more information can be seen here.

With Nawal El Saadawi, chaired by Femi Otitoju

children's workshop: ENVIRONMENTALISM (age 7-11, mixed)

A workshop on environmental activism led by Friends of the Earth and Stop Airport Expansion Now campaigner Denis Walker.




SUNDAY 9.00 - 10.00


opening speech - bianca jagger

A lifelong humanitarian activist, Bianca Jagger is president and chief executive of The Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation (BJHRF), which is dedicated to defending human rights and which has launched a global campaign to end violence against women and girls.

'Count' a Leah Thorn Poem


Women's Power, Women's Oppression, Women's History
Women's power, and our right to define our oppression, are contested in patriarchal systems. We need women's history to understand how this colonization came to be, how it operates. Patriarchy is not a human default, but a historical process with a material basis. These patterns of domination are a series of overlays embedded over time in culture, socialization and behavior, and they intersect with other systems of domination. Women remain divided, a necessary condition of domination; and our resistance is still subject to silencing and repression, including witch hunts. We need to know what women's freedom and authority look like, in societies that do not colonize us on the basis of sex, and recover the positive heritages that are our birthright.


children's workshop: supervised creativity (age 7-11, mixed)

Supervised creativity. Children can use fabric paints to decorate tote bags, design paper aeroplanes or draw.


Sunday 10.30 - 12.00

Breakaway Session Options (Pick one)

Freedom of expression – online misogyny and the exclusion of women from online public space

Sexist abuse, death and rape threats, misogynist “banter” - all of this serves to deter and sometimes exclude women from participating in public life online, the virtual equivalent of having to stay inside.  How (un)comfortably does freedom of speech sit with the rights of women to exist online? And what can we do to improve things?  What about non-consensual pornography ("revenge porn") and victim blaming? Chaired by Alison Boydell of End Online Misogyny, with Claire Heuchan, Connie St Louis and Dr Emily Grossman.

Worth Their Weight In Gold: the contribution of women’s unpaid labour to the economy

Women’s work, what’s it worth? Well, quite a lot, it turns out. The ONS give a figure figure of £343 billion - this is the value of informal (unpaid) childcare to the UK economy.  Add this to the £119 billion of informal care for sick, frail and disabled loved ones and it's a staggering £462 billion - that's more than 4.5 times the entire budget of the NHS - which pretty much blows the "economically inactive" label to shreds. This will be a panel discussion chaired by Mothers At Home Matter, with Vanessa Olorenshaw, Esther Parry and Dr Karem Reitman.

Vulvanomics - how we talk about vaginas

When you were growing up did you talk about ‘froo froos’, ‘tuppences’, or ‘lady gardens’? Or were ‘vaginas’ and ‘vulvas’ more commonly referred to? And what does it mean that when we say ‘the C-word’ we’re conjuring up generations of shame and taboo? And why do we say the phrase ‘the C-word’, and not the word itself? Emma Rees is Professor of Literature and Gender Studies at the University of Chester. She has written extensively in the field of gender and representation, and her most recent book, The Vagina: A Literary and Cultural History (Bloomsbury) came out in paperback earlier this year. Emma considers the often surprising origins of how we talk about vaginas, and why people have such a problem doing so in a candid way; she maps how advertising, film-making and art have profited from the taboo of the vagina, and how they even perpetuate ideas of ‘shame’. If we confront the taboo, she argues, we can also confront the real-world abuses it currently masks.

With Professor Emma Rees

WOMAN: An International Perspective

As the Feminism in London conference moves towards a more international event, we listen to women’s rights advocates from overseas. We hear from Dr Munazza Yaqoob and Sonia Farooq of the Critical Thinking Forum in Pakistan, Nawal Gassan Slemiah of the Palestinian women’s embroidery co-operative Women in Hebron. Nematta Majeks Walker is joining us from 50/50 Sierre Leone, while Margaret Owen of the Widows for Peace group will speak about Rojava and the Women's Revolution in a time of war. Chaired by Feride Kumbasar of the IMECE Women's Centre this promises to be an educational and inspiring session.

With Munazza Yaqoob, Sonia Farooq, Nawal Gassan Slemiah, Nematta Majeks Walker, Margaret Owen and Feride Kumbasar (chair)

Male allies’ workshop: Engaging Men in Feminism: From Theory to Practical Action (open to all)

A participatory workshop in which participants will discuss the stereotypes and misconceptions underlying modern masculinity, and work together to address how male privilege functions and impacts people of all genders. We will be using many of the techniques applied in our school workshops that participants will be able to use with the boys and men in their lives to continue these discussions.
With David Brockway and Rebecca Collins from The GREAT Initiative             

BeGIN THE DAY WITH MINDFULNESS (age 12 - 18, girls only)

This session will begin with very gentle, easy stretching to prepare the body for sitting meditation. Kristyan will then lead a guided meditation, talk briefly about mindfulness, and answer questions.  We will end with a supine meditation. Please wear comfortable clothes.  All welcome - no experience necessary!  With Kristyan Robinson.

children's workshop: women of world war ii (age 7-11, mixed)

A workshop for children to explore the history of the women of the Second World War. A fun and interactive way to explore the growth of women in the workplace from land girls to code-breakers.


Sunday 12.30 - 2.00

Breakaway Session Options (Pick one)

Multiple identities: Ordinary Lives - the challenges of being disabled and feminist

Disabled women's rights are human rights! Disability can be physical, mental, neurological; hidden or visible. This panel will look at activism through the prism of disability and feminism and seek to explore further the intersection and challenges of being between the two and the capacity of the two movements to work together for change.
Organisations represented are Sisters of Frida and ICChange.

With Rebecca Bunce, Nidhi Goyal, Frances Ryan, Becky Olaniyi as well as Asha Hans and Kirsten Hearn (chair). A couple of these talks will be via satellite link

Survive or Thrive? How can our new Government ensure women's economic success?

Fair Play Equal Pay: A practical workshop on closing the gender pay gap

Women have been campaigning for equal pay for centuries but do we actually know how to close it and who can make this happen?

This practical session will ask two experts what their top three proposals are for closing the pay gap and we’ll get you to vote on them.

Then it’s your term to make suggestions of your own - what should Fawcett be doing? What about the government? And what action can we take as individuals?

Your contributions will feed into Fawcett’s work around Equal Pay Day and we’ll be asking you to make your own pledges to close the gender pay gap… watch out, we’ll be holding you to them! 

With the Fawcett Society, Jemima Olchawski, Tatiana Garavito and Anne-Marie Imafidon


In this workshop we will discuss:
The role of academia and media in supporting the ‘happy hooker’ narrative.
How the general population understands prostitution and its effects.
How survivors of prostitution and the sex trade began to organise in response to the sex workers’ rights movement.
How the laws and policies on prostitution and trafficking shape the public discourse
Which are the key texts and theories from the abolitionist and the sex workers’ rights positions
How exited women speak from a place of trauma, which makes the attacks by the sex trade lobby very stressful. 
How the international connections of exited women has made us strong
The inclusion of excluded voices in research

With Rachel Moran, Megan Walker, Rebecca Mott and Beccy Beegan

Street harassment

Street harassment is a form of sexual violence and power play that affects all women, girls and non-binary bodies, challenging their right to inhabit public space through violence, abuse and scare tactics on a daily basis yet remains largely ignored, downplayed and discredited. How can we break these cycles, what are the very real dangers and where do we find power on the streets? Speakers include Young Feminists London, Dr Fiona Vera Gray, Ama Josephine Budge of HYSTERIA feminist collective, #thisdoesntmeanyes and Katie Spark.

Male allies’ workshop: Men as Carers: empowering women, transforming men?

Can the positive involvement of men as fathers and carers contribute to women’s empowerment and men’s well-being? How is men’s involvement in caregiving changing, both in the UK and globally? Do boys and young men need ‘male role models’ to grow into caring and non-violent adults? This workshop and participative discussion will draw upon the findings of two recent reports – MenCare’s ‘The State of the World’s Fathers’ (co-author Nikki van der Gaag) and the Open University’s ‘Beyond Male Role Models: gender identities and young men’ (co-author Sandy Ruxton).

With Nikki van der Gaag and Sandy Ruxton


The facilitator will give a short introduction to writing in history before demonstrating some calligraphy and getting children to do some of their own.


Sunday 2.30 - 4.00

Breakaway Session Options (Pick one)

Right to marry – forced marriage

In 2014, forcing someone to marry was made a criminal offence. This panel will explore the issues around forced marriage and look at how successful the new law has been in preventing it.  Chaired by Huma Munshi, with Lucy Monaghan from the Forced Marriage Unit, Neda Barzegar, IKWRO Survivor Ambassador, Kerry Smith from PLAN UK and Zahra Rasouli from IKWRO.  

Campaigning for Change

This workshop promises to inspire you – any movement needs to create positive, sustainable change. These incredible speakers and activists have all been involved in successful campaigns to highlight issues affecting women and girls. All have worked extremely hard and suffered the onslaught that invariably accompanies meaningful activism in the feminist world.

Listen; ask questions; engage and who knows – perhaps you will find a cause that you want to support or you may even decide to start your own!

Hosted by Karen Ingala-Smith of Counting Dead Women, Gemma Aitchison from YES Matters, Tessa Trabue from Let Toys be Toys and Annie Sugier of the Stop Sexism in the Olympics campaign.

Bodies and shame

A panel on body-shaming and the cult of perfection, looking at the ways in which women’s bodies are shamed and the intersection with race, class, sexuality, disability and mental health. With Yomi Adegoke, Lisa Egan and Juliette Burton.  Chair: Young Feminists London.

Sexist Language

Are you Bitch Body Ready?  Following last year's popular Man Up Man Down workshop, this year we will be looking at sexist language in the media, particularly the most recent misogynist adverts.  Bring your rage, your creativity and your suffragette spirit of protest.  With Cat Crossley, Catherine Sangster and Siana Bangura.

Poetry and Power (age 12 - 18, girls only)

The finale of the Women of the Future workshops will provide participants with the opportunity to work with gifted and accomplished spoken word artist and educator, Michelle Tiwo.

What does the language of literature, the media and the classroom reveal about society’s perception of young women? How does this affect their view of themselves? In what ways has it been (and is it still) used to control and disempower them? How can it be used as a force to challenge the status quo and empower young women? Michelle Tiwo will use poetry to explore these questions in a session which promises to be thought-provoking, interactive and highly creative.

children's workshop: crafting (age 7-11, mixed)

Sharon Semple & Mary Ramsay lead a crafting workshop. All children will make a jumping frog (and race it!) and then be able to choose from other activities including paper beads, magic wallets and pop-up cards.


Sunday 4.30 - 5.30 

closing panel 

Dorothea Smartt does a poetry reading

50:50 call out

Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize, chaired by Femi Otitoju

Finn Mackay closing speech


children's workshop: SINGING (age 7-11, mixed)

Singing workshop led by members of the Strawberry Thieves choir. An opportunity for children to learn and perform songs in a group setting. No experience needed!