This year, 2014, has seen the return of the debate on gender equality to the public consciousness. Yet some fear that when popular campaigns proclaim that "feminism is for everybody," the ubiquity of the term undermines its anti-oppressive potential. As the ongoing issues around feminist politics enter into the collective consciousness, have we lost sight of what feminism is for? How does the feminist movement maintain momentum while resisting being co-opted by those that would use the movement to meet ends that are indifferent and even hostile to feminism?
This past October, these issues were discussed at the Women's Forum in Ottawa. Now in its third year, the forum focused on articulating "the feminist agenda." Asking how we can express a feminist vision of our individual and collective existence, the forum explored diverse understandings of gender inequality to provide ideas on how to move forward.
In this panel, the issues discussed were as diverse as the speakers themselves. Moderated by Kate MacIntruff, Senior Researcher for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and director of the Centre's initiative on gender equality and public policy, the panel was composed four speakers: Marcelle Perron, Vice President, Women's Committee of the Quebec Federation of Labour; Sharon Gregson, Spokeswoman for the Coalition of Childcare Advocates of BC, $10/day Child Care Plan; Sonia Lawrence, Director of the Institute for Feminist Legal Studies at Osgoode Hall and Erica Violet Lee, blogger and activist who has worked internationally as a youth organizer with the movement since initially garnering attention speaking at the first Idle No More teach-in in 2012.
Ranging from affordable child care and the consequences of austerity to building an intersectional, critical feminism, the panel focused on how to build coalitions, finding, as Sonia Lawrence suggests, the aspects of the feminist agenda we can agree on and pursuing those.
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