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WOMENS WORDS

WRN @ FiLiA

What a wonderful three days! Really wonderful.


Everyone will have taken away their own highlights and memories, and been on their own rollercoaster of emotion as we learnt about the courage and resilience as well as the pain of women all over the world.


Maya kicked us off with the plenary on Saturday morning and got an amazing reception. It was a panel of amazing speakers, but the highlight for me was Maryam Namazie talking about women and girls in Iran and Afghanistan. If you ever get the chance to hear her speak, take it.


Our own Cathy Larkman closed out the plenary talking about the vigil organised by WRN Wales and Merched Cymru for Saturday evening. I felt for her having to speak straight after Maryam, but she was brilliant of course.


Maya opening the plenary session


And Cathy closing it

The WRN stall was a huge success and a lot of fun. We were only selling our “Save Our Spaces” leaflets but we had lots of examples of our merch so I hope plenty of women took advantage of the discount code and bought from the website.


We certainly had plenty of conversations with women who wanted to join and left their details with us.


But most of all it was those joyous meetings with other WRN members who had been just a Twitter handle or a face on zoom.


The WRN breakout session was great. Heather talked about our campaigns and introduced the Christmas campaign. This year we’re hoping more women will do street stalls and talk to people doing their Christmas shopping.


With that in mind, Somerset & Dorset set up a street stall in the breakout room and hopefully inspired other groups to do the same.


Our Somerset stall in action


The very lovely and hugely knowledgeable Elaine Miller gave a lunchtime session on all things pelvic. Well – as much as she could fit into 30 minutes, anyway. I always learn something new and laugh a lot whenever Elaine gives a talk!


The Vigil on Saturday night was hugely impactful. Gemma made some fabulous props to represent women of all ages and backgrounds, because any woman might be attacked by a man, whoever she is, no matter what she is wearing. And it is #NeverHerFault.


Of course it rained. Bucketed down in fact. But we had moving testimonies from women who had experienced male violence, we chanted, we sang, and we made sure the people of Cardiff heard our voices.


There were so many incredible sessions and speakers. The Sports session was surprisingly moving – I felt like crying. Women and girls have almost no funding until the elite level, and in some sports not even then. Including sports that are awash with cash for men, like football and cycling. And now men are taking even more opportunities by taking places, medals and scholarships from women and they can do that because other men are defining women as people with low testosterone.


L to R: Sharron Davies, Kim Jones (aka “Swim Mom”), Dr Kerry McGawley,

Victoria Hood, Mara Yamauchi, Fiona McAnena, Tonia Antoniazzi


With so much going on, so many talks, informal groups meeting, cafes full of women planning and just catching up, the main problem was choosing which sessions to miss. It was impossible to see more than a fraction of it.


There’s nowhere like FiLiA for hearing intelligent women discussing difficult topics and centring women in all of them. Nowhere you can hear more informed opinion or more nuanced debate. And nowhere else you can feel more female energy and joy.


I’m already looking forward to FiLiA 2023 in Glasgow.




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