The FWF is designed to support and promote feminist writers and create events of interest to both writers and readers. A core goal of the FWF is to be accessible and inclusive, while still opening the space for a critical engagement with feminism and taking the conversation beyond ‘feminism 101’.
The FWF aims to bring together feminist writers and readers to connect and strengthen the diverse writing communities that exist around Australia. The FWF seeks to expand the themes and voices around feminism and women’s writing by offering spaces for critical engagement and practical support for all feminist writers and readers, as well as promoting more awareness and understanding of a range of feminist issues within wider Australian society.
Australian feminism has evolved over the decades, but in many ways it is a fractured movement, with a limited group of voices in the public sphere. While Australian feminists have formed many strong online connections and communities, and this online environment has provided a platform for a wider range of voices, more needs to be done to ensure that it is an inclusive and diverse writing community. And support for feminists is needed as much as ever – the Feminist Writers Festival provides an opportunity to connect and collaborate.
The FWF adopts a progressive understanding of feminism, but not one that is only overtly political. The concept of ‘feminist writing’ will encompass ‘women who write about women’s lives’ – because this is often an implicitly feminist act – and ‘women who write explicitly about feminist issues’ – and much of what lies in-between.
Our inaugural festival took place over three days in 2016, with public events as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 August, and a networking day on Friday 26 August. All events covered a range of themes, including feminism, writing and literature; workshops and networking events for feminist writers; and political discussions about feminism, including the challenging questions raised by the concept of intersectionality and feminism’s historic failure to be inclusive of diversity. In 2017 we continued to pick up on these conversations, with discussion panels and workshops in Brisbane, Canberra, Lismore and Melbourne.
The festival was founded by academic Cristy Clark and writer Jo Case. The steering committee for the 2016 Festival comprised a diverse range of women from across the country interested and involved in feminist writing, many of whom now make up our board. We will continue to involve a diverse range of women in programming and participating in our events.
The 2016 festival was hosted in its inaugural year by the Melbourne Writers Festival. The event was a huge success and we plan to make it a biannual event in a different city every two years, in addition to hosting a range of one-off events in the interval. The festival may eventually become an annual event subject to funding availability.
To sign up to our newsletter, suggest a collaboration, or to donate to the festival, please contact us. We received an incredible response to our call out for volunteers and programming suggestions for 2016 and have closed expressions of interest for the time being. We will make a public announcement when we are opening up expressions of interest for the 2018 festival.