Last year saw a surge of civil unrest across the globe so widespread that 2019 has been dubbed “the year of the street protestor”. In places as diverse as Hong Kong, Chile, the United States, the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, people came together for a variety of causes and grievances. These included demands for economic, racial, and gender equality; the preservation of democracy against a growing authoritarian tide; confronting climate change; opposing corruption; and addressing migration and refugee issues.
Increasingly, it is women-led movements that play an important role in advocacy, activism, and protest around the world, especially in places where authoritarian leaders have come to power. One hallmark of these protests is their breadth: as well as women, they include others marginalised by such regimes. Another is their tendency to be non-violent, which evidence suggests can be as effective at achieving change as violent uprisings.
Accompanying the increased participation of women in activism and protest is their increased representation in politics and media. Women such as Greta Thunberg, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Maria Ressa, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg have arisen in popular consciousness as symbols of moral courage in an era of turbulence.
In celebration of International Women's Day we were joined at the National Gallery of Victoria by:
Lydia Khalil, Lowy Institute Research Fellow and Middle East expert (moderator)
Louisa Lim, Senior Lecturer in journalism at the University of Melbourne and co-host of The Little Red Podcast
Amanda McKenzie, CEO of The Climate Council
Nyadol Nyuon, commercial lawyer and community advocate for African Australians
for a discussion of this turbulent time.