International Women's Day 2016

Photo: From left to right: Dr Philippa Lei, Professor Geoff Ward (Principal, Homerton College), Olivia Burns (HUS JCR Women’s Officer), and Ann Cotton OBE.

International Women’s Day was celebrated in style this year, with an evening of performances celebrating arts-based research, and a student-run seminar on girls’ education in the developing world, with stellar guest speakers.

On 8 March, JCR Women’s Officer Olivia Burns hosted a ‘feminar’ with presentations by Ann Cotton OBE and Dr Philippa Lei.  Cotton – an Honorary Fellow of Homerton - is Founder and President of Camfed, a charity which seeks to eradicate poverty in Africa through the education of girls and the empowerment of women. Camfed has reached over 1.2 million girls since its foundation in the early 1990s.

Lei is Director of Policy at the Malala Fund, set up by Nobel Prizewinner Malala Yousafzai and her father two years ago, asserting the right of all girls to 12 years of safe, quality education, both primary and secondary.

Cotton and Lei spoke about the histories of their charities, and their attempts to break what Cotton termed the “intergenerational cycle of poverty” through seeking to provide and champion girls’ education. Both Camfed and The Malala Fund focus heavily on the provision of secondary education, asserting it as a basic human right.

On 9 March, Professor Pam Burnard convened a spectacular showcase of performances as part of the Creativities, Interculturality and Gender (CIG) series she co-ordinates, jointly with the College and the Education Faculty. The evening was a celebration, exploring diverse ways of performing to promote arts-based research.

Photo: Professor Pam Burnard, convenor of the Homerton CreatInG series

Professor Pam Burnard, convenor of the Homerton CreatInG series

Performers were invited to share their insights into the journey to progress equality and social justice through arts-based research, and to experiment with the physical setting of performance, using space, light, sound, and intercultural dialogue.  Performances included explorations of the experiences of trafficked women through poetry, a recording of a community poem written by 17-year-old participants in the Fearless Futures programme reflecting upon society’s inequalities, and a piano-flute duet inspired by the rhythms of “landscapes that inspire and shape lives”. 

Photo: Homerton’s Charter Choir performing “Let all the world in every corner sing” by Greta Tomlins
Homerton’s Charter Choir performing “Let all the world in every corner sing” by Greta Tomlins

The unifying theme of the CIG series has been how discourses of creativity, culture, and gender can connect, and how the roles of these subjects can inform different fields of interest.  In earlier events, Hanna McCloskey (Founder and CEO of Fearless Futures) explored tensions in current discussions about gender equality by asking whether we still need ‘1960s tools’ to address the problem in the 21st century, and whether there are alternatives which might accelerate the pace of change. Maria Lusitano Santos addressed how creativity and gender interplay with the emergence of the sharing economy, and the coming together of business, sharing, and social value.

The CIG series will continue until June, culminating in the third international Building Interdisciplinary Bridges Across Cultures (BIBAC) Conference, jointly held by Homerton and Churchill Colleges and the Faculty of Education.