Important changes for Cardiff Feminist Network

10 May

Yesterday, Sara Giro and I attended a grantfinder session with a lovely lady called Thoria who works for the Cardiff 3rd Sector Council. The purpose of this session was to source potential funding pots for future CFN events. Alongside this, we were given some very useful advice about how CFN might become a charity, limited company, or Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). The reason why we have been talking about this is that, as a non-affiliated community group, CFN has very limited access to funding opportunities. Since we want to increase our potential as a community activist group, it makes sense to look at this restructuring as a solution to that everlasting question in the grassroots movement: where’s the money going to come from? After listening to Thoria’s summary of the pros and cons of each legal structure, Sara and I have concluded that becoming a CIO is the most obvious way forward for our group. It seems to us the least risky option.  On paper, it would mean that CFN labours under the CIO name but, really, on a day-to-day basis for members, it won’t change anything (except that we will have more events and campaigns to look forward to). For more information about what becoming a CIO entails, please look here.

So what does this mean for us, right now? 

Well, firstly, we need to become a fully-fledged member of the Cardiff 3rd Sector Council. In order to do this, we need to have a constitution. This is a document that summarises the purpose(s) of our network, our legal structure, how decisions are made, how members are admitted, and so on. It is about two pages long. I have written one up today and have sent it to Sara and Hannah Austin (the founding member of CFN) for commentary. When we are all satisfied that it is a working document, we will call our first AGM as a network. Expect this to happen in the next two weeks. Yes, it’s hasty, but if we are going to organise more events, we need to have money, so we need to register as a legally recognised charitable organisation, so we need to have the advice of C3SC. Some other reasons why we’d like to become a fully-fledged member of C3SC is that they can offer us some great benefits such as regular grantfinder sessions, training sessions for up to 2 representatives of CFN on various subjects and issues (such as community fundraising, charity law, etc) and regular access to advice from third sector experts. All this for free.

I really hope that no-one is reading this and thinking, but you’ve done all of this without our consent. That would be a fair judgement. I have mentioned these happenings on the CFN FB group several times. Our actions at the time really only warranted limited reference – all we were doing at time was wondering whether or not CFN could get funding for a film club/festival (curated by me) and for a women’s art exhibition (curated by Sara Giro and Arron Kuiper). However, since it looks like we will have to change the legal structure of our group in order to get any money, we (obviously) then  have to tell you.

What does this mean in the long run?

Well, day-to-day, for our everyday members, it doesn’t change anything. Not at first, anyway. With a lot of work and a little bit of luck, we might just be able to start running some events and programmes that do impact on our members’ everyday lives, whether through educational programmes or through socialising and networking. Maybe we’re being optimistic.

Day-to-day for committee members, it would mean keeping an extra eye on opportunities for CFN. What can we feasibly hope to achieve as a network and how do we go about making some of these things happen?

Overall, though, what we’d like to avoid is getting bogged down in administration, guidelines and rules. We’ve worked well so far as an informal group and we’d like to keep it that way (for the most part). It’s just the way of it that when money becomes an issue, legal structures have to be put in place (or one of us has to have a rich, philanthropically-inclined aunt).

To end this post, I would like to propose another change: behavioural policy. We’ve had issues in the past with some members dominating debates and conversations and it has alienated some members (potential and actual). On one or two occasions, these people have been removed from the group (as a last resort) as it was deemed to be in the best interests of everyone involved. To date, no-one has ever complained that the actions taken were the wrong ones.

Now, to prevent these situations from occurring again, I propose that we write a short, definitive policy that lays out the network members’ expectations of each other. I don’t want this to spell the end of informalism within the network and, for the most part, we’ve done very well without having to refer to policies, rules, or expectations. But sometimes it does need to be said that everyone has the right to be listened to and to be respected without fear of being insulted.

If you have any comments, ideas, or even criticisms, please do let me know. This is something that I’d like to add to the website and FB group relatively soon.

Thank you all.


** EDIT: Sara has kindly reminded me that there is a social on Sunday (for which you can find details here). If you have any questions at all about these proposed changes then please do come along.


Million Women Rise 2013 – London, Saturday March 9th

25 Apr

Youtube link:

In the morning of March 9th a 37 strong group of women got on a bus outside the Cardiff Museum to march on Trafalgar Square. Some, like myself, went the night before, rushing from work and local International Women’s Day events to catch a train to London. But I hear the all-women-bus bus is quite the experience!

The Million Women Rise march is a women-only march which aims to raise awareness of MALE violence against WOMEN. Here’s a couple of reasons why marching is still important today:

  • One woman in four will experience domestic violence at some point in her life.
  • Domestic violence has more repeat victims than any other crime (on average there will have been 35 assaults before a victim calls the police).
  • Two women are murdered every week by their partner or ex partner.
  • One incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute.
  • One woman in four will experience sexual assault as an adult.
  • Only 5% of rapes reported to the police result in the perpetrator being convicted in court.
  • Women are more worried about rape than any other crime.
  • 250 cases of forced marriage are reported each year.
  • Up to 1,420 women per year are trafficked into the UK for sexual exploitation
  • One woman a month is murdered in the name of ‘so called’ honour.
  • Nearly 90% of local authorities do not have a rape crisis centre.
  • Over 20,000 girls could be at risk of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the UK.

The marching women met at 12:00 on Oxford Street. The bus from Cardiff got there just in time to start marching, bringing CFN members and a strong presence of Welsh Women’s Aid and Swansea Women’s Aid. The atmosphere was proud and celebratory, a never ending supply of free veggie curry and cake brought by Food For All, kept us all warm and energised and I immediately got the sense that it was a safe environment. This is important to experience on a crowded London street every once in a while. It reminds me that thinks can be different and better.

The March was attended by women of all ages, many creeds, nationalities and from all over the country. The vibrant banners included groups, campaigns and organisations as varied as the Socialist Women’s Union, The No More Page 3 Campaign, The East London Feminists, The Women and Girls Network, the Black Feminists, the Day-Mer and Ulch Women’s Group, Unison, East Midlands Million Women Rise, 8 March Women Organisation (Iran-Afghanistan) and many others.

We were marching alongside The London Feminists for a while and their chants were great. This one was definitely among the favourites:

“Here we are marching on the streets singing: We are women we’re not pieces of meat.
We are strong: we are strong. We are proud: we are proud.
We are strong, we are proud and together we’ll be loud.”

The ensuring rally in Trafalgar Square, brought us a variety of voices, alongside many talented performers. I found the women from the Congo particularly moving, as they sang a beautiful song and made a heartfelt appeal for women in the Congo where sexual violence continues to be used as a weapon of war.

A cheeky pint in Soho and we were headed to the women-only after party at The 52 Club. More free food and the young & awesome DJ Queenie eased us into an evening of performances which sadly was cut short when the bus came back to pick up and take most of the group home. I was one of the lucky ones to stay and have the pleasure of listening to The Feminist Choir and have a laugh with the comedian Sindhu V.

Link to Sindhu V:

In the end it was estimated that 10000 women marched through the streets of London on March 9th. Now it is time to take all that energy and solidarity and continue to make women’s issues heard in our communities throughout the UK. By this time next year, lets hope the march is even bigger and the Welsh bus to full capacity.


Million Women Rise is the collective of women behind the organisations of this march. They work autonomously as volunteers, without any corporate sponsorship or formal funding. They promote change that is based on truth, unity, peace and love and rely on donations in order to keep their autonomy. There are no paid staff at Million Women Rise and all donations go directly towards their work. They need to raise £18,000 for the next march to take place, covering costs such as public liability insurance, stage hire and audio equipment for Trafalgar Square. They also organise conscious raising events and activities through out the year and are currently developing a space to provide support groups for women who are overcoming their experiences of male violence and a training programme for volunteers.

Please give as generously as you can here:


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Free events coming up…

18 Apr

While at work, I’ve come across details of two events coming up in the near and nearish future in Cardiff. The first one is this ‘Policy Cafe’ at Cardiff University, due to take place next week – Tuesday 23rd April. Absolutely everyone is welcome, but you do have to register in order to attend (I guess it is so that the organisers can be sure that they have enough seats?). The main question of the event is ‘What and Who Needs Funding in Wales’? An emotion-loaded question for a lot of us reading this, I would imagine! Personally, I’m going to this event because there is plenty of funding that Cardiff Feminist Network could do with having and it would be great to get some insight into the workings-out of the people who award funding in Wales. Who knows? This could spell the beginning of some more exciting times for CFN.

Details for this event can be found here.

The second event, perhaps of more relevance to CFN members, is the Women’s Equality Network conference on June 21st at the Coal Exchange. The theme of this particular event is ‘CEDAW – Your Rights as Women In Wales’. EXCITING! An actual conference organised by feminists for feminist for free! Which, to my mind, is such a refreshing event because women in Wales tend not to have a fat lot of cash. Not the ones I know, anyway. However, you are more than welcome to make a donation to WEN if you so wish. This will help them to put on more free events in the future.

More details for this event can be found here.


What do women owe Thatcher?

16 Apr


“She stands as an example to our daughters that there is no glass ceiling that can’t be shattered”, commented Obama this week upon hearing the news that Baroness Thatcher had died, aged 87. She was the first and the only, female Prime Minister to lead Britain and in an arena famously dominated by men, that is no small feat. Famously declaring in 1975 that “if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a women”, female reporters and politicians were quick to defend her legacy. Claiming that she was the “ultimate feminist”, many declared that we owe her much gratitude and argued that she played a crucial role in women’s liberation. There is no denying that her election was an incredible personal achievement, and in many ways she has come to represent what women can achieve when they set their minds to it, but there is a debate to be had on her role in women’s liberation.


As many will already have read, Margaret Thatcher famously hated feminism and angered the movement by declaring that she owed nothing to the movement that helped Thatcher get the right to vote in the first place. Wendy Webster, Professor of Modern Culture and History, has argued that Thatcher herself believed she was a “one-off” and therefore she “didn’t do anything that would have facilitated other women to follow in her footsteps.” When we consider that there has not been a female PM since and that female MPS still only made up 22% at the last election, that argument has some validity. During her eleven years in office, Thatcher only promoted one women to her cabinet and the number of female MPS in parliament largely stagnated. It was only in 1997 with Labour’s introduction of All-Women Shortlists in safe seats that the number of female MPS significantly grew, doubling over night from 60 to 120. Thatcher saw herself as a woman in a man’s world and many have argued that she disguised herself as a man in many ways, famously seeking coaching to deepen her voice.


Emma Bartnett, the Women’s Editor of the Telegraph largely disagrees;


“For me, Feminism is a simple concept; its about women achieving full equality to men…breaking down the idea of genders as leading to a natural set of roles…Lady Thatcher managed to do just that…”.


This may indeed be the case but when we consider Thatcher’s stance on gender roles, it becomes far less clear cut. During her eleven years in office she was incredibly critical of the “crèche culture” and continuously argued that women belonged at home. At an event in July 1983 with the British Jewish Community, commenting on a previous question asked at a previous interview she responded that “I was asked whether I was trying to restore Victorian values…and I am.”  “Victorian Values” were famously conservative and women were fairly oppressed, expected to meet the gender specific qualities and roles. Using Emma Barnett’s definition of feminism above, Thatcher was hardly trying to restore equality.


What Thatcher achieved was undoubtedly important to Women’s liberation, and she demonstrated that women do have the mental and emotional ability to run a country. Proving that women can be as successful as men, has undoubtedly inspired many. As Julie Bindel, an English feminist icon, has argued however, it is an offence in many ways to consider Thatcher a feminist because she did so little to help women’s lives.




The issue of Femen-ism

19 Mar


If ‘No More Page 3’ is a feminist campaign, and Femen is a feminist group,  I wonder how the latter would organise a protest against page 3 outside Sun HQ? Would they bare their breasts adorned with the words ‘no more page 3’?

Femen seem to walk a very fine line between reclaiming their bodies and using the tools of the oppressor to make themselves heard. Both use women’s bodies to sell a message. With page 3 this message is ‘you may be a working class man attacked and exploited from all sides but at least you can have a gratuitous and guilt free look at a woman’s breasts!’ whilst Femen go for the much more subtle ‘fuck your god’.

Femen describe their campaigning tactics as creative with an element of surprise. Unfortunately, bare breasts in the public domain of Western societies are anything but surprising. Just have a look at the third page of the sun newspaper. Bare breasted women protesting in Saudi Arabia, now that would be revolutionary and surprising! In the middle of Paris or London?Not so much.

One difference between Femen and page 3 is that  liberal men who see themselves as comrades in our struggles, may find page 3 offensive. But, what if it was liberated activist women who were getting their breasts out? Would this make it ok to have a look and comment on them? When you see comments like these underneath a Femen picture on an ‘anarchist’ facebook page, then you know the struggle for women’s lib is not yet won:

‘Think I like this too much. Against religion and naked women. Yes.’
‘ love the message love the tits’
‘ No censored girls! :D’ – there were a number of complaints that the girl’s (sic) nipples had been censored out. Just for the record, there was nothing written on the nipples. I’ve checked.

…and whilst approving comments included praise of the women’s breasts, there were also the more abusive offerings that focused on the women’s “undesirability”. It feels like the conversation has not progressed past the usual sexist discourse. I think the ‘fuck your god’ message got lost somewhere.

Most of the Femen campaigners are young women with a particular body type. I would like to hope that older women, larger sized women and women who have undergone mastectomies would be greeted with the same enthusiasm, but I am too cynical to actually believe that.

For me, feminism is about liberation from the gender stereotypes that society imposes on us. Yes, Femen are breaking the mould of the quiet and well behaved women that many would like us to be. They may be the punk rockers (with flowers in their hair) of the feminist movement…angry, passionate and ready to put themselves in the firing line.  However, their T-shirt sized messages seem to be often quite vague with no tangible demands for change. Their tactics are too much style over substance.

I am not convinced that I would feel liberated if I had to get naked in order to make my point. Nor should our struggles be defined by male acceptance and their acceptance of our bodies.For decades, women have fought for equality and this should include equality in the sphere of campaigning. If men don’t have to prance around naked to be heard, I don’t see why women should.



13 Mar

We are looking for submissions to our website.


BIRKENSTOMPING all over Cardiff

12 Mar

Many apologies for a sore lack of post-event(ual) wordage about Birkenstomp. If you were there, you know how packed & exciting the event was. It was the busiest one so far, with about 300 people altogether having walked through the doors throughout the day. 

We played Riot Grrl music. We hosted a stage for open-mic-ers to perform their work. We provided space to show women’s art. We sold vagina cupcakes(!) to raise money for a portable PA to be used at future events and rallies. We had a STOMP, hosted by Mab Jones, which presented 14 women poets from all over Wales. We had henna, anarcha-feminist zines, and prizes. We heard music by Laurence Made Me Cry, Bluetongue, Stephanie Finegan, and Faith Taylor. We even had Lou Noble play a set with her baby, Shanti, on her back! 

But instead of going on and on about how great it was, here are some pictures to prove it (with photos coming from the organiser soon):ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage