Merging theory and action for International Women’s Day

The University of Manitoba Feminist Collective consists of eight members. Dana Austman, Nadine Boulay, Kira Dickson, Irene Fubara, Tara Lambert, Chantel Paul, Jennifer Portillo and Bre Woligroski are all students in Feminist Community Organizing: Theories and Practices, a women’s and gender studies class at the U of M. In honour of International Women’s Day, these students are putting theory into practice by organizing The Feminist Inspirational Cabaret of the Year. In an interview with the Manitoban, the University of Manitoba Feminist Collective discusses the importance of International Women’s Day, how the collective was formed and their inspiration for organizing the cabaret.

The Manitoban: What is the significance of International Women’s Day to the University of Manitoba Feminist Collective?

University of Manitoba Feminist Collective: International Women’s Day (IWD) is a celebration of all women. And although one day is often not enough, it is a chance to celebrate the accomplishments of women all over the world, from a variety of contexts. We are taking IWD as an opportunity to celebrate the talented women who surround us every day, not only the performers that will be attending our event, but our friends, family and the women we might walk past on our way to class. IWD is an opportunity to really appreciate how wonderful and powerful women are.

M: How can feminist community organizing be defined and how does this definition relate to the planned feminist inspirational cabaret?

UMFC: We are planning this event for our women’s and gender studies class, Feminist Community Organizing: Theories and Practices. We have learned that feminist community organizing takes on many forms, and for our event we have decided to use the structure of a collective. A vast amount of feminist organizing occurs through the collective process, which challenges — often oppressive — hierarchical models common to patriarchal and capitalistic systems. Through a collective, each individual member has an equal say as well as responsibility in planning.

Our class was assigned the exciting task of planning an event around IWD to be able to have a pragmatic experience of feminist community organizing ourselves. Through the collective process we have each contributed our own ideas to this event, and we decided that for our IWD event we wanted to create a space to celebrate the centennial of IWD in a way that would showcase some of the amazing and talented women that we have in our community.
M: Can you elaborate on why the theme “celebrating the past, envisioning the future” was chosen?

UMFC: This year marks IWD’s centenary (1911-2011), which is one of the major reasons our organization has chosen the theme of “celebrating the past, envisioning the future.” We would like to honour the important women who have come before us, the amazing work they have done and progress they have made. Their efforts have greatly contributed to what feminism has become today. And, as we stop and reflect on all the accomplishments that have been made over the past 100 years, we can’t help but get excited about what the future will hold for women across the world!

On Wednesday, March 9, The Feminist Inspirational Cabaret of the Year will proudly feature local artists who will help celebrate this exciting feminist milestone. This free event will take place from 3:30-5 p.m. in Degrees Diner (third floor University Centre). The headlining performer is singer-songwriter Süss, and also includes performances from the Radical Cheerleaders, feminist spoken word artist Sarah Granke, comediennes Florence Spence and Heather Witherden, singer Keisha Booker and performance artist Kim Zeglinski.