The Nederlandse Vrouwen Raad (NVR) organized what turned out to be a challenging 2nd edition of the Young Feminist Weekend in 2020, bringing together 30 young women to build a community, develop and foster connections with each other, and give their voices a platform.
2020 was an intense year that affected all aspects of our lives, including the organisation of the YFW training. Due to the COVID-19 measurements, the training had to be transformed, at a very late stage, into a hybrid version. Luckily all involved cooperated well.
“During the lockdowns, we were forced to create and imagine a new reality for ourselves; all in the span of a year. It was extremely valuable to be able to connect with others, especially with those who share similar desires to achieve women’s equality and share ideas, experiences and knowledge through online peer workshops and team up and work together”, says YFW participant Denise Sarfo about her experiences. “This was even more valuable during a time where we are faced with social restrictions which made it challenging to connect with others.”
The YFW hybrid edition contained 3 online sessions on respectively October 16, and November 7 & 28 with workshops offered by both experts and participants, and dialogues by invited speakers such as Marije Cornelissen, Director of UN Women Netherlands, who discussed the history of feminism.
“Ms. Cornelissen explained about the feminist waves which provided us with new insights. It was quite shocking for instance that there was no women’s suffrage in Switzerland up until 1979! The workshop led by Mr. Jan Reynders (MenEngage Netherlands) on the impact of gender on feminism stressed the role and the need of allyship; a first step is a save space and an inclusive listening environment”, says YFW participant Lorraine Poh Chesi. “The open atmosphere of the sessions was really inspiring and led to an exchange of experiences and ideas”.
The Young Feminist Weekend 2020 only ended in September 2021 with a 1.5 day live event at the original planned venue in The Hague, which was highly appreciated by all as it offered the opportunity to meet in real live. In between the last online session and the live wrap up participants and facilitators met online in monthly ‘Open Spaces’ and discussed their assignments. Furthermore, a Linkedin group and a Whatsapp group were set up to keep in contact. Surprisingly enough this method worked well and the overall majority of participants stayed on board. They realised the unusual circumstances in which COVID-rendered public life to a halt, though feminist issues continue to exist and in many cases have exacerbated as a result of COVID-19 and the subsequent measures.
“Our work as feminists does not come to a halt during this period, and platforms such as Young Feminist Weekend are of great value and importance during this time”, says participant Denise Sarfo. “We enjoyed the privilege of still being able to connect with each other to discuss important feminist issues. In this regard, it’s important to recognise our privilege in possessing the tools and means to meet in a virtual space and use this as a motivation to think of ways in which we might serve others during this time.”
Results are a.o. a higher level of awareness and activism on gender issues, feminism and intersectionality. Several participants joined working groups of the NVR and/or joined the Young Feminist Ambassadors – which was established by participants of the 1st edition of YFW and is now a member of NVR – while others continue to work in teams on their YFW-projects such as ‘How to start a dialogue on feminism without causing aggressive responses?’ for which they are developing a game with question cards one can discuss among groups and friends.
Dit verslag is opgenomen in de Nieuwsbrief (nr.73) van de International Council of Women.