Dundee Women’s Festival (DWF) is an annual event celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8, recognising women’s rights, their qualities and their achievements. Twenty-seven countries have a public holiday but Dundee is doing even better with a two-week festival running from March 5 to March 14.
“The theme for the Dundee Women’s Festival 2021 The Power of Women, was chosen some months ago when we were living in much more certain times,” explains Prue Watson, DWF chair.
“We try to theme each year’s festival – something which relates to international or national events. Last year’s, for example, was the Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters so we had Women Making Waves.
“2019 was celebrating minority languages, hence Hear Women’s Voices, while 2018 marked the centenary of Women’s Suffrage, A Vote for the Future, and in 2017 we joined the push to encourage girls to take up STEM subjects and consider non-traditional careers under the title of Herstory and Heritage,” Prue continues.
“This last topic led to Dundee University merging their Women’s Science Festival with Dundee Women’s Festival and a future of joint working including a three year sponsorship deal (2020-2022) through the Welcome Foundation.”
Despite the present difficult circumstances the organisers were determined that the 2021 DWF should go on. This year’s festival will be very different, however, as it will largely take place online.
“Thanks to the ingenuity and co-operation of all our partners we are able to offer an amazing programme of events,” smiles Prue.
Moreover, it transpires that the chosen theme could not have been more appropriate.
“Women have been called upon to take on extra responsibilities during lockdown. The call out to get involved has raised a powerful and positive response from the women of Dundee and Angus – and a few men too!” she says.
The events – most are open to all but some are women only – all celebrate the Power of Women and are all centred around March 8 2021, 100 years since the first celebration of International Women’s Day.
Readily accessible wherever people live – locally, in Scotland, elsewhere in the UK and across the world – the programme offers a diverse list of events including (to name but a few) Angela Gilchrist, editor of The People’s Friend, in conversation with historian Charlotte Lauder, discussing the fascinating story of Jessie M. King, Dundee’s first professional female journalist; Overcoming Challenges: Women Entrepreneurs in Nablus Palestine – a talk by Anan Atteereh, deputy governor of Nablus, followed by a Q&A discussion; Herbology and Health: Lady Mantle to Foxglove; Women and the Climate Crisis; Empowering Women at Work and Beyond, The Second Hand Wardrobe: How to Thrift Like a Pro; Menopause Cafes; and Motherhood and the Visual Arts.
“We are delighted by the response and willingness of individuals and organisations to get involved in our 2021 festival despite the challenges we are all having to deal with,” says Prue.
“ he festival is important because it brings women together and even now it’s a safe place to discuss subjects like the menopause, stress, abuse, work problems, topics that might be difficult to discuss elsewhere.
“Dundee has always been a city with a history of strong women and we believe that joining together to celebrate the Power of Women is a positive way to address the isolation and uncertainty which many of us are feeling right now.
“And while an online virtual festival is a first for us, it’s a challenge but also an opportunity to reach out a wider audience – not only throughout Scotland and the UK, but potentially worldwide. That’s the Power of Women!”
For the full programme, updates and information, visit dundeewomensfestival.org.uk