Critique, renewal, and celebration: feminism, the arts, and more inclusive post COVID‑19 futures
We are in our 6th year of organizing Inspiring Women Among Us (est. 2015). IWAU is a community-wide event drawing attention to gender, gender relations, and ongoing barriers to equity and inclusion. IWAU grew out of a shared desire to extend discussions of gender, gender relations, and gender-related discrimination and violence beyond the annual half-day Northern Women Centre-hosted community Memorial event to acknowledge The Montreal Massacre and the National Day of Remembrance of and Action on Violence Women. We support this ceremony, but also fund, design, and host an annual week+ of events centred on gender and gender relations. We work with an Organizing Committee, volunteers, student involvement, and community partners. We celebrate achievements of women, girls, and others, while simultaneously drawing attention to systemic, cultural, and other barriers that impede access, success, and equity. We seek to recognize, amplify and celebrate marginalized voices and members of under-represented groups including racialized scholars, Indigenous leaders and authors, and members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community.
IWAU is a community-oriented diverse mix of on- and off-campus activities including workshops, talks, events, performances, and dialogues to examine persistent challenges to equity. IWAU typically attracts 800-1100 attendances. Last year’s events (held online due to COVID19) garnered >364 attendances to 22 events (national and international participation). IWAU culminated in a moving (online) ceremony to mark the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Information about IWAU, its origins, past themes and inclusions can be found at [www.iwau.ca](http://www.iwau.ca), which extends the life of our events. It also features Claiming Spaces online resources generated in partnership with the City of Prince George, with matching funding from the Canadian Federation of Municipalities’ Towards Parity Demonstration Project.
The theme for IWAU 2021 (Nov 17-24) is Critique, renewal, and celebration: feminism, the arts, and more inclusive post COVID‑19 futures. This will include activities across UNBC and the City of Prince George, with partnerships with the City, the Prince George Public Library and local non-profits such as Two Rivers Art Gallery. We recognize key roles and spaces the arts community often provide for critiquing gender roles, stereotypes, and expectations, and for pushing boundaries. Our dual goal this year is to focus on gender awareness and inclusion, while promoting and celebrating the arts and artists as sources of inspiration, and inclusion. We will welcome inspiring speakers and leaders, organize arts-related activities that take up themes of gender, equity and diversity, and acknowledge roles of artists and the arts in societal transformation. We will include live in-person and online components, increasing flexibility and accessibility. We will also have the capacity to move “all online” if COVID‑19 and responses to it require such an adaptation (we will use savings in presenter costs to fund an IT assistant).
We are profoundly appreciative of all of the community appreciation, investment, and support to date. In 2021 we will continue to stimulate conservations, reflections, and imaginings of a more inclusive future as we seek to “rebuild” post COVID-19. IWAU 2021 will bridge many sectors of society, including academia, to generate funded opportunities for students, local small businesses, and community partners. The planned post COVID‑19 community renewal with an emphasis on the arts, will connect us with artists and small businesses associated with under-represented groups. Funding maintains IWAU quality and accessibility, allowing for ongoing dedicated exploration of gender relations in community.