Words from IWD: Elizabeth Mora

Elizabeth Mora spoke at the Sydney IWD picnic this year. She has kindly agreed to share her speech here for anyone who missed it or wants to enjoy it again. You can check out another speech from the day here. The artwork in the featured image is also an Elizabeth Mora original.

Elizabeth Mora speaking at IWD.

Good Morning everyone, today I will be talking about the complex relationship between feminism and multiculturalism.

During the last 100 years, feminist activism has moved away from protectionist reform toward the assumption that equality requires that all people be treated in the same way. In my opinion, this assumption limited the way all women identify and practice feminism.

In a multicultural nation like Australia, equality between men and women is not only about equal rights but also about giving credit and value to how feminism is expressed. The identity of feminist women in Australia is not only of the radical bra-burning women of the 1970s, the expression of feminism in Australia is coloured by culture, nationality and religion.

Apart from being feminists, women in Australia are displaced identities: migrants, refugees and bearers of their homeland. They understand feminism through global eyes, which may or may not carry the scars of war, poverty, political instability and gender specific disadvantage.

Multicultural young women apply and assert their feminism differently. Women like me have brought to Australia not only our dreams and aspirations but also the gendered values of our home country, which have restricted and bounded our identity as women. We value the western idea of feminism is as far as we see and have felt the continued necessity for equality within our own national context.

However, our ability to sustain our identity as contemporary feminists continues to be challenged by a failure to recognize and value the story of who we are and where we came from.

I am a young woman from Ecuador. A country in South America where women continue to be objectified and sexualized. Women in Ecuador feel that they they have to alter their dress code AND social behavior in order to avoid the constant sexism that they experience as they work, study and go about their daily routine.

The nature of religious conservatism in Ecuador has meant that women and their sexuality are still considered unnatural and morally unacceptable. This mentality has not only driven “machismo” but also its implications, which have placed women at a constant disposition to men unless they specify otherwise.

It could be argued the story of my sisters in South America does not belong within the context of Western feminism because by submitting to the patriarchy of the Ecuador they are in fact placing themselves at the opposite end of Western Feminism. By failing to consider women as multifaceted individuals, feminism becomes less accessible. Because in order to subscribe to feminism women must negotiate the context, of whom they are!

The question I would like to ask is how to ensure a more inclusive feminism?

An answer could be provided by United Nations Beijing plan for action plan of 1995, which stressed that feminism needed to:

Shift the focus from women to the concept of gender, recognizing that the entire structure of society, and all relations between men and women within it, so that women could be fully empowered to take their rightful place as equal partners with men in all aspects of life. This change… the plan noted would represent a strong reaffirmation that women’s rights are human rights and that gender equality is issue of universal concern, benefiting all.

As a movement feminism was born out the need for change.
As a concept or theory, feminism was born out of the need for equality.
And as an identity, feminism speaks faithfully to the esoteric nature of our gender!

If feminism is to speak to the future, connect, and involve all Australian women we need to reflect on the foundations of where we came from, what we stand for and who we are and represent!

Before I finish I would like to thank the F-Collective and Colectivo Mujer for this opportunity to speak.

Feliz Dia de la Mujer,
Happy International Women’s Day everyone!

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  1. […] Amanda Parkinson spoke at the Sydney IWD picnic this year. She has kindly agreed to share her speech here for anyone who missed it or wants to enjoy it again. You can check out other speeches from the day here and here. […]



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