Women only institutions have long existed in society, to provide opportunities and safe spaces through church groups and girls only schools. In our time of heightened gender awareness and an elevated female voice, people now fear these groups that were once left to their own devices as “support” for the ‘vulnerable’. Many believe that women groups are synonymous with male-bashing and social anarchy. But, the women in these collectives know otherwise. The goal of this session is to explicitly discuss the purpose and importance of women’s only collectives and tackle the difficult questions and misconceptions surrounding the topic at this time.
“Why are all the women sitting together” will utilize a 'fishbowl" format to engage men and women in a discussion about the importance and necessity of women’s only collectives as it serves the wellbeing of women and society as a whole. We will unearth and address common misconceptions about what happens in women only groups, illuminate the purpose they serve for women and the larger society, and drive home what meaningful engagement within and outside of these groups looks like for both women and men.
During the first 10mins of the session, a group of 6 women will talk amongst themselves about what they discuss in their women’s collective. They will ask and answer each other’s questions around the theme. They will ruminate on how technology has helped to further their organizing and collective efforts. A group of 6 men will sit behind and listen. After, the group of 6 men will move to the front and the women to the back. The women will listen as the men discuss their ideas and conceptions about women’s only groups. Finally the two groups will converge in a discussion. The moderator will allow the panel to expand on topics, explain, and question each other on them. The session will finally close with an outlook how the groups can continue to engage each other and work towards a more equitable world for all.