FEMINISTS FOR TRANSFORMATION: AN OPEN MEETING TO CELEBRATE 25 YEARS OF FEMINIST ACHIEVEMENTS AND TO IMAGINE OUR FEMINIST WORK IN THE FUTURE
The Network of East-West Women (NEWW), an organization founded to link up feminists from all over East and Central Europe and feminists from the U.S., had its first meeting in Dubrovnik in June of 1991. 25 years!
It’s time to celebrate all that we’ve done together. But, at this same moment, there’s a general, regional, and indeed European-wide movement against the very category “gender” and against all feminist aspirations. It’s even more important than ever for us to have our birthday party.
The Network is making an open call to feminist activists to come to two meetings to discuss the future and reflect on 25 years of feminisms and to attend two celebratory birthday parties:
• In Gdansk, June 7
• In Krakow, June 11
What is the purpose of these meetings?
- To meet over a range of differences among feminist activists.
- To discuss possible strategies—from organized institutions of resistance to specific projects and direct action.
- To share best practices about finding an effective language and movement aesthetics to counter newly aggressive and repressive voices.
- To generate creative thinking and suggest ways to work in our different localities.
- To build morale among people at a time of backlash, providing space and air to generate new energies.
- To eat cake! This, too, is part of morale building, of meeting each other across geographical and political locations, of celebrating the richness of feminist organizing of every kind, both national and international, since 1991.
Some members of NEWW, distressed by the recent election of the far-Right in Poland, thought we should take Poland as our exemplary case for discussing feminist organizing, and we hope activists from all over Poland will attend. But all who are interested in NEWW are welcome from anywhere in East Central Europe and the United States.
If you self-identify as a feminist activist, you are invited to this party/parlay! We are gathering names in the hope of making personal invitations to many individuals who have worked with NEWW in the past or whose activism is known to us. However, we are also hoping to use the snowball method of organizing, in which people we reach tell others.
We welcome any position papers or statements or analyses or suggestions for action that participants may choose to write. These will be compiled and sent out to all who RSVP to our invitation and placed on The Network of East-West Women website (http://www.neww.eu/).
In order to plan for food, cheap or free lodgings, and meeting organization, we require an RSVP by May 15th from every person who plans to attend.
We know there will be disagreements and the culture of the Network has always welcomed these. We wish to create a space for free exchange and to maintain an open, creative conversation among feminists of different generations and from different geographical locations.
June 7th, Gdansk, the European Solidarity Center:
Co-founder of NEWW, Ann Snitow, and current director of NEWW, Malgorzata Tarasiewicz, will introduce the meeting and will discuss the founding ideas of NEWW, assessing the Network’s achievements in these 25 years since its founding in Dubrovnik. (In English with translation.)
In a feminist café format (in Polish with possible English break-out groups), we will:
- Discuss the dangers and paradoxical opportunities of the present political moment.
- Explore what lessons we can learn from the past or from our different locations. (Representatives from a variety of organizations in Poland will offer their understanding of what have been our best practices.)
- Ask about the intersections between feminist international networks and related projects, for example the support of migrants.
By the end of the meeting, we will draft a statement or manifesto collecting the work we’ve done and making it accessible to a large community.
We will close with a celebratory birthday dinner at the European Solidarity Center.
On the 8th of June we are planning a range of activities including a visit to the famous Gdansk shipyard (where Solidarity started), a tribute to women workers such as Anna Walentynowicz, and meetings with local groups of feminists. We will also have a farewell dinner for those who participate in the second day.
June 11th, Krakow, Jagiellonian University:
- Beata Kowalska will introduce the meeting and we will hear a summary of what happened in Gdansk, including an assessment of NEWW’s first 25 years.
- We will hold a feminist café led by local feminist groups (in Polish), followed by a plenary to hear reports back from the small groups.
- Some speakers may choose to respond from their own context to Ann Snitow’s new book, The Feminism of Uncertainty: A Gender Diary (Duke University Press: 2015).
- We will close with a celebratory birthday dinner.
- After the meeting, NEWW will hold a press conference offering a compilation of suggestions in the form of a manifesto developed in both meetings. In this public statement, we will stress the importance of feminism as a freedom struggle in itself and as and a part of any real democracy.
As one long-time supporter of NEWW’s activities put it, in 1991, when seventy of us met in Dubrovnik and founded this international support network, NEWW, we had money raised in the U.S. but no knowledge of each other and no network linking us. Now, twenty-five years later, we have no American money but we have rich and developed knowledge of each other, a network we hope can support an informal meeting such as this. We ask that everyone find her (or his) travel money and a place to stay, either in Gdansk or in Krakow. The organizers (in Gdansk, Malgorzata Tarasiewicz and the NEWW office, and in Krakow, Beata Kowalska of the sociology department, Jagiellonian University - firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Travel money: we hope that people will be able to find their own way to either Gdansk or Krakow from cities all over Poland and elsewhere. However, we recognize that if we wish to have geographical diversity both inside Poland and possibly including others from East Central Europe interested in attending, we will have to find some funds to help people to travel. Please try to raise funds from local organizations to attend the meeting. But, if you need a contribution from NEWW to get either to Gdansk or Krakow, please apply individually to The Network’s Book and Journal Project (bookandjournalproject@new
Please help the Network to celebrate its first twenty-five years by
joining in an open encounter of feminists…
• to remind us of how many of us there are
• how much we have done
• and how passionate we are about feminism in its various forms.
Please RSVP by May 15th to Malgorzata Tarasiewicz (if you wish to come to Gdansk) and Beata Kowalska (if you are planning to come to Krakow). You can also join us at both locations.
We have great news! Thanks to a support from the Global Fund for Women we might support travel and accommodation for some participants. So please register and let us know when you are coming and if you need help with the costs. Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org