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Dundee Women’s Festival launch — what are the key issues in 2022?

women dundee festival women's
Prue Watson, chair of the long-running Dundee Women's Festival.

The line-up of events for Dundee Women’s Festival has been announced, with a number of important issues taking centre stage.

The March event celebrates the impact of women locally and worldwide, while also considering the problems still facing women today.

Dundee Women’s Festival has run for over 20 years and is organised by a small group of volunteer trustees.

It will take place between March 5-20 and is open to all genders and ages, however a few select events are women-only.

Prue Watson, chair of the festival, hopes the event will inspire confidence in local women and provide a safe space for them to discuss issues openly.

Here are some of the main topics covered in the upcoming event, with a roughly even split of in-person and online events.

1. Women in the workplace

The theme for 2022 is Today’s Women Shape Tomorrow’s World, with events considering women’s experiences in male-dominated workplaces.

Local scientists and artists will hold workshops, exhibitions and speeches to discuss the role of women in their fields and invite guests to try new things.

Prue said: “We have events for those wanting to learn new skills.

dundee women's festival
Chair Prue Watson at the Dundee Women’s Festival.

“Boosting women’s confidence is also quite important, we feel. We should introduce these opportunities to women so they feel like they can have a go.

“We cannot all be experts in STEM but we can all make small changes in our daily lives.”

2. Women’s safety

Following the high profile killings of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa, safety in public spaces remains a pressing issue facing women nationwide.

Representatives from WRASAC (Women’s Rape & Sexual Abuse Centre) and Tayside Police Division will discuss the main safety concerns facing both older and younger women today.

Prue said: “The women’s safety event looks at the kind of problems students face being away from home, as well as relationship problems.

“WRASAC are going to be talking about women in abusive situations which has increased quite considerably over lockdown.

“We’ve also got Detective Sergeant Scott Thompson who will be talking about protecting women, particularly older women, from scams.”

3. Racism

Since the Black Lives Matter movement took off in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd, the intersection of feminism and racism has been widely discussed.

One event for Dundee Women’s Festival, called the Zaytoun Story, considers Dundee’s links with other countries.

Women in Dundee’s twin city Nablus, a Palestinian city on the Israeli-occupied Northern West Bank, will tell the story of Zaytoun via Zoom.

Dundee shares ties with Palestine, as the city is twinned with Nablus in the Palestine West Bank.

The social enterprise was originally founded to support Palestinian farmers through fair trade.

They prioritise support for young people and women starting out in farming, as well farmers whose land has been impacted by military destruction.

“The Zaytoun story is about women gaining economic independence,” added Prue.

“It’s being put on by the Dundee-Nablus Twinning Association.

“We’ve had several interesting events over the years with them, and we get to hear how women cope in very different living situations to what we have.”

4. LGBTQ+

Another important intersection is that of women’s issues and problems facing the LGTBQ+ community.

Organisers hope to create a space for such discussions through a number of events, including a dance-theatre event which explores issues facing LGBTQ+ people, primarily gender dysphoria and trans issues.

“We have a couple events that are looking at different communities,” said Prue.

“Although we have women-only events, we’re please we’ve also got events which are specifically for gender neutral people.”

5. Health

Various events consider the health of local women: both mental and physical.

A chat with local burlesque group Marvelesque encourages body positivity, while a comedic yet informative event considers the realities of menopause that women may not have learned in school.

The closing event of Dundee Women’s Festival 2018.

Prue said: “You learn about changes in your body as a teenager, but nobody ever talks about changes like menopause and beyond that.”

Similar workshops encourage attendees to consider their mental wellbeing and discuss more “taboo” subjects openly without judgement. Creative sessions also prompt local women to try new forms of creative self-expression.

Prue added: “The aim of the festival is wellbeing really – and giving women an opportunity to talk about things they normally wouldn’t talk about.”

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