A Warm Welcome to AWOMENfest

Raniyah Qureshi

If you asked me five years ago, I would have told you that I didn’t identify as a feminist, let alone that I had decided to set up a feminist arts festival. The strains of feminism that I had encountered up until 2013 had not been diverse, and didn’t really account for experiences that weren’t white, secular, cis, and heterosexual. To put it bluntly the feminism I had previously encountered simply hadn’t been intersectional. As someone who isn’t white and could be described as religious (although how you define what that means is fairly complex) it took a while to see myself in the feminist movement. Thankfully and blissfully, after much digging and research and through endless conversations with many patient individuals, I have finally decided what I want my feminism to look like. I’m so hopeful that open discussion, communication and kindness can get us to a point where slowly everyone engages in intersectional conversations, and intersectional feminism becomes commonplace – where the words become ‘intersectional feminism’ become unnecessary, because they’re implicit in every interaction.

I don’t think anyone is fully ‘woke’ because I think every individual has certain privileges, and views the world with themselves at the centre, but I do think it’s something that everyone should aim to be. This is where AWOMENfest comes in. We want to push everyone, gently and lovingly, to try and understand experiences beyond their own. A play on the Hebrew ‘amen’ (so be it) AWOMENfest focusses on the diverse narratives that compose what ‘womanhood’ (if such a term is useful in 2018) really looks like. AWOMENfest is a weekend feminist arts festival taking place from the 23rd — 25th March at DIY Space for London. Our incredibly magical and supportive team, including Alina Khakoo, curator of AWOMENfest (and co-founder of Cambridge Girl Talk) and Indigo Theatre Productions are helping to bring what was once a daydream and a fantasy of mine to life. We’re creating a loving and safe environment, where we can celebrate the diversity of feminism, and show that even the most radical aspects of feminism are accessible to all. We want all individuals attending the festival, whether they identify as male, or female or as non-binary to feel uplifted and communally celebrate all things radical softness!


Our four sessions across the weekend will explore the themes of vulnerability, solidarity, spirituality and desirability. AWOMENfest is a multi-disciplinary affair: we’re showcasing the artwork of renowned individuals such as Alice Skinner, Fee Greening and Elizabeth Gabrielle Lee, alongside performances by the incredible Emma Jean-Thackray, Transgress Productions, and roundtable discussions on topics ranging from ‘forgiveness in feminism’ to presentations of The Women in Porn project. Our whole team fiercely believes that through art, individuals who don’t necessarily care about or haven’t engaged in ideas concerning BME mental health, or the nuances of drag performance, can come and have a great time, and slowly contemplate ideas that they may not have encountered or wished to think about before. We’ve embraced ‘radical softness’ to demonstrate our commitment to being open and inclusive.

The way we view it ‘radical softness’ highlights that feminism is a merging of the political and the personal. ‘Radical softness’ involves embracing the kindness within feminism and using emotional vulnerability as a means of resilience and fortitude. Feminism has given me so much, it’s given me networks and communities of support, I’ve met individuals who not only have the most amazing stories to tell, but have channelled their vulnerabilities, their heartbreaks and their struggles into the most beautiful and overwhelming pieces of art. AWOMENfest holds onto this feeling and tries to encapsulate it in a single weekend. By focussing on ‘radical softness’ we’re showing that all the upsets, and the difficulties of a collection of diverse experiences can be made into something beautiful.

We really hope to see as many Girl Talk readers there. For more information please visit www.awomenfest.com, and buy your tickets, so together we can push back against the kyriarchy, and raise funds for the My Body Back Project:(http://www.mybodybackproject.com/). 

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