EWL News

AGORA - EWL Young Feminist Summer School 2017

[Brussels, 18 October 2017] From the 7th to the 11th of September European Women’s Lobby held our third AGORA, the popular young feminist summer school for women.

Feminists arrived from all over Europe to exchange ideas and experiences in Amazone, a women’s organisation centre, and were facilitated once again this year by Maria Cristina Temmink and Maaike Boumans, who have been leading the group from the very first year.

AGORA 2017 began with an introduction outlining the aims of the programme and the communicational tools by which these aims would be achieved. The group identified aims of sharing their own feminism, learning about feminist leadership and moving forward into a feminist Europe.

The facilitators explained the approach would be heavily influenced by their own areas of expertise, such as experimental learning and The Art of Hosting. The group made a checklist of points which would be adhered to throughout the project – a main focus would be to always speak and listen with intention at all times, whilst respecting each other.

Post-its Mapping the Field during AGORA 17

Participants learnt about their similarities and differences through interactive activities such as physically “mapping the field,” storytelling, the circle way, world café, open space, pro-action café and appreciative inquiry. There were also some opportunities to examine theory such as models for systemic change as well as more traditional conference styled sessions, for example a formal introduction to EWL, a panel presentation from key players in the EU and the European Commission and Parliament. Of course, plenty of opportunities also arose for networking and socialising during downtime.

An overarching theme of AGORA 2017 was sharing knowledge. Each person brought their own knowledge acquired through various channels such as academic, activist, professional and lived experience to the table in order to converse in a meaningful and productive manner. The group was encouraged to bring forth its own issues and topics, and so participants themselves controlled the subject matter in this way – a recurring theme was diversity and how to support each other as intersectional feminists. This involved formal platforms such as signing up to host an open space or volunteering to create a workshop, and informal platforms such as discussions and group debates. Material was collected by participants and facilitators through notetaking, spider diagrams, bullet points, posters around the room, podcasting, and collectively reinforced each day with a process of beginning with a check in and ending with feedback through a check out.

One of the most important elements of AGORA happens after the five days together, when each participant travels home and reflects on everything said and done. Staying in touch strengthens the solidarity and continues the work of AGORA, with this year’s group connecting online through a Facebook group where they stay up to date on each other’s work, show support to each other through sending solidarity to different causes, blogposts, podcasts, contact databases, joint projects, continued contact from EWL and integration into member organisations.

Why not have a look at some of the experiences of AGORA 2017 through the words of the participants in the following accounts:

Podcast on AGORA17

Article header: drawing by Hilary Watson‎

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