Woman as Hero, an ASU organization that encourages discussion on gender and feminist philosophy, will bring one of the nation’s largest student-led and student-run feminism conferences to Tempe on April 8.
The organization aims to empower women of the community while challenging existing ideals of feminism. During its annual conference, Womanity, Woman as Hero seeks to provide an opportunity for students to spread awareness and discuss activism regarding women's rights and the shifting dialogue on gender equality.
Maggie Tucker, a sophomore majoring in geography and political science who handles the logistics of the event, said it will include nine student-led workshops focused on different topics in intersectional feminism.
“One thing I really love about the conference is that it’s organized into blocks that allow people of different levels of understanding to choose what they want,” she said. “We have a more general block — classic ways of how you can get involved — but we also have some more culturally diverse topics.”
The organization asked students to pitch their ideas for talking points earlier in the year to determine who would host workshops at the 2017 conference.
“We received around 19 pitches, and from there we narrowed it down,” she said. “I think that we’re adding an important dialogue that includes all people.”
Tucker said Womanity will examine feminism differently through the perspectives of different students.
“I think what we’re really trying to get at is moving away from the classic 'white feminism' idea of just one type of woman seeking to have power, and really looking at other people and how everyone can be included,” she said. “We allow people to acknowledge different issues.”
Tucker said the theme of the conference, “activism in motion,” encourages students to look for answers about how to contribute to the shifting dialogue around feminism.
“I really like that we have a lot of pressing, global topics as well as the more local, immediate change topics,” she said. “Our conference really does talk about tangible solutions.”
Tucker said the conference has the ability to change how people understand feminism and showcase the people working towards women’s empowerment.
“When you’re so close to something that you’re producing, you kind of forget the beauty of it,” she said. “Knowing the amount of energy we have behind this conference really speaks for the amount of energy at ASU and in the greater community.”
Jade Nicole Yeban, a junior majoring journalism and minoring in political science, said she plans to attend Womanity for the first time after seeing it promoted in the Honor’s Digest.
As chief of staff for Undergraduate Student Government Downtown, Yeban said the conference will give her the opportunity to apply what she learns to her student leadership position.
“We are constantly prioritizing inclusivity, diversity and respect,” she said. “It’s really important that we talk about the underrepresentation of women in the political system.”
Yeban said she thinks Womanity will highlight a critical conversation for students to have.
“As we are leading professionals and we’ll lead in the future, I think it’s important for millennials and anyone that is about to graduate to have this discussion,” she said. “If we’re changing our conversation and our dialogue, hopefully we’re going to be able to see some huge changes in the future.”
Jessica Roberson, a junior double-majoring in anthropology and English literature, said she will be attending Womanity for the third time.
Roberson said the fact that the conference is student-led has made it more impactful.
“A lot of the conferences that you go to and the ones that are offered at the University are not student-led, and so the relationship between the people there and the people in charge is very different,” she said. “If you know the people up there and they’re the same age as you, you’re a lot more comfortable and you generally feel more welcomed there.”
Roberson said Womanity emphasizes the need for change.
“We can’t afford to keep reproducing the same hierarchies and the same toxic narratives of masculinity ad white supremacy as we’ve always been doing,” she said. “It’s up to us as students and scholars to step back and say there’s more to life than that, and that’s what I think Womanity is trying to do.”