Your Guide to NOWSA 2020

This year the University of Western Australia and the UWA Student Guild Women’s Department is hosting NOWSA – the Network of Women Students Australia. NOWSA is an annual conference which established in 1987 with the goal of fostering a grassroots network that autonomously represents women and non-binary people. The conference provides an opportunity for students to engage with political, economic, social, and cultural issues that affect women and allows students to share resources, skills, and knowledge. This year the conference will be held online due to COVID-19 with attendees having the opportunity to work together via online workshops to develop strategies focusing on improving the experiences of women in Australia.

2020 has seen us engulfed in a global pandemic and been witness to a huge rise in social justice movements across the world; from Indigenous Lives Matter movements in Australia to the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States, to women’s rights protests in Chile, India, Turkey, and protests against student cuts and environmental injustice, we’re standing up and raising our voices. Through news and social media we’ve been inundated with a spike in gender-based violence, increased environmental destruction, a global femicide pandemic, greater threats to trans people, and increased economic disparity. With a different focus issue each day, the NOWSA 2020 conference provides a lens to collectively explore the issues most pressing right now. 

Day 1 will focus on feminist issues across the globe in 2020, including the Indigenous Lives Matter movement, the Black Lives Matter movement, women’s rights issues in Latin America and India. If you are interested in hearing about how to take action, we will be having a workshop at the end of this day which will not only increase your awareness of these issues, but also educate you on different ways you can become more involved in activism and social justice. 

Day 2 has a focus on the intersection between capitalism, colonialism, patriarchy and government. We will be looking at how institutional structures result in systemic oppressions and cycles of inequality. With an understanding that getting involved in social justice issues, starting your own project or networking with others can feel inaccessible, this topic will help to break down some of those barriers. At the end of this day we will have a workshop called “Building Networks”, which will provide you with a space to practice pitching ideas and topics, and improving your networking skills. 

 Day 3 will be covering a range of diverse and interconnected topics, from feminist experiences with religion, and foregrounding indigenous stories and experiences, aswell as the need for diverse representation in pop culture, and the refugee experience in Australia. Discussing how activsim can make substantial, long-lasting changes, we will also be further spotlight women and non-binary people of colour actively involved in activism movements., 

The theme for Day 4 is “Inclusivity, accessibility and sexuality” and covers topics such as body positivity, sexual and mental health, sex work and sexual diversity. Explore the intersection of mental health and feminism, and learn about sex ed failed to teach you in high school. We will also be having an inclusive discussion around sex positivity and the importance of pleasure, as well as highlighting the experiences of sex workers and telling stories of Pride. 

Day 5 is focused on sexual violence both on and off campus. The first event “Hearing Our Voices” is a space for people with lived experience of sexual violence to share their stories. The second event “Taking Action” focuses on sexual assault across university campuses, which we have seen has been a huge issue that universities need to better address. The NOWSA 2020 conference will end with the “Networks Beyond NOSWA” event to bring everyone together for one last opportunity to discuss key themes from the week and foster ongoing collaborations between people. 

The NOWSA conference aims to be a week filled with collaborative, through-provoking and educational discussions and workshops allowing those involved opportunities to engage in a range of feminist issues. At the end of the conference participants will be provided with various tools to continue their learning and further their activism.

To find out more information go to NOWSA

To sign up go HERE

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