The Weaving House was invited to speak on 29th October 2019 at ONE SUMMIT New Zealand. “Ten minutes each to talk about how they’re driving change towards a sustainable future from the grassroots up.” One New Zealand’s aim is “to educate, inspire and enable our transition as a community and nation to a healthy, thriving, diverse, carbon zero community.”
Gender Equality in 10 minutes!
Amy Pearl of The Weaving House spoke to the challenge.
Kia ora Thank you One New Zealand for this creation indeed a form of activism as is being in the audience tonight ~ and for the opportunity to share some of the things I’ve learned whilst visiting and working within the many spaces for advocacy in the Gender Equality field.
Some of you will know The Weaving House based here in Wānaka, an
advocacy organisation for Gender Equality. Over the last three years Weaving House has brought about 50 of our Women leaders and thinkers here for public lectures.
Politicians writers, experts in their fields of enquiry, philosophers and great
social activists. Women with ideas and solutions for a more equitable and
peaceful world. Platforming knowledge and experience is one of the
essential tasks of The Weaving House.
Set up in October of 2015 primarily to amplify the voices of New Zealand
Women ~ but working nationally and globally to assist in propelling a
message and movement for equality ~ The Weaving House was initiated to
help inform and educate, our media, politicians, public ~ to relay information,
stories, hopes, injustices, struggles and actions ~ through research and
news coming directly from our movement. Amplifying and weaving one
another together to help bring our knowledge to the forefront of public
Weaving House exists to support gender related organisations and initiatives
in a variety of ways, not always front of house ~ to help remove
discriminatory laws with legislative change, and to ensure the ones we have
work. To inform on how our community is fighting for our rightly due
freedoms against a long lived systemic and cultural subordination and to help inform on how our struggle for Gender Equality is related and intwined with social, economic and environmental policy ~ all in the hope this information can better inform decisions and guide what we can each do to help propel a Gender Lens into our planning for sustainable communities and understanding of the world at large.
Spreading the word and offering an understanding of what Gender Equality
actually means through the amplification of Women and Gender Diverse
people, a full time effort these past years…but instead of telling you ways Weaving House works to propel the SDGs ~ I yesterday decided to talk with you not just about this most integral Global Goal, I’m taking the opportunity to highlight dark forces working to muddy our understanding of Equality and its relationship to feminist movement.
Why Gender Equality isn’t a nice to have but a necessity, that our cultural
and value systems need to be radical transformations on scale with the scale
of our current crisis ~ including how we relate to one another and that radical
transformation involves removing our primary barrier to Equality.
I’ll run through some concepts and try to clarify them ~ a 101 of what’s up.
I’ve heard we speak at about 200 words a minute but can hear up to 500 ~ so
here we go.
Fact ~ Women and Girls suffer the most deprivation within all of the 17
Global Goals and are also key to unlocking the potential of each Goal. The
United Nations Development Goal 5 ~ Gender Equality in a nutshell is that
“Women and Girls everywhere must have Equal Rights and opportunity and
be able to live free of violence and discrimination”
To achieve this by 2030 we’d have to eliminate the root causes of violence
and discrimination, structurally and culturally with haste. A gargantuan task.
We know Gender Inequality gives rise to violence against Women so we
also know that violence is preventable ~ So what else is preventable when
we’ve institutional and cultural systems of equality in place?
The root cause of Gender Inequality is a system called patriarchy, where the
powerful maintain their position by oppressing the many, all the while
utilising them as a resource to be exploited. And yes, men are oppressed by
patriarchy too. It’s a hierarchy one of self interest and maintains itself
primarily through the threat of violence.
Obvious forms of discrimination and oppression are ~ the wage gap, rape,
the cultural normalisation of rape, our lack of reproductive rights, unpaid care
work for which society depends, the division of domestic work, lack of
representation in positions of power and leadership, sexual harassment,
human trafficking, education, access to resources including land and water ~
the list entirely endless.
We know Women and Girls face rights violations in every town and city of our world
today. We are half the sky yet we are the majority in poverty, most of us are
illiterate, we’re paid least, abused most. We are majority victims of war,
progress, economics, domestic and sexual violence, consumerism and
The first to feel cutbacks in employment, health, education, social security,
welfare. State services look to cut areas we occupy before ensuring our
rights are secure. The right to income, food, shelter, safety. These things
make us expendable to the current system. We occupy the assembly line.
In essence, we have a globalised structure that consider women and girls as
less than with unequal rights to men.
To not forget the fragility, strength and youth of our movement. Marital rape
was still legal in NZ in the 1980’s ~ then came our Domestic Violence Act in the
1990’s. Many nations don’t have any protection laws.
We’ve still not our reproductive rights due to us ~ or equal pay ~ a greater
injustice yet for our Pacific and Māori sisters.
In 1979 we won what was essentially our first international Bill of Rights. Still
contested. In 1993 at The World Conference on Human Rights, our rights
were at last clearly recognised as Human Rights. By the year 2000 we were
permitted under the Convention to take our complaints of violations to the
Our right to choose how we live in society as women is not given, we fought
for and justifiably won the right to participate and we are now operating
within the system.
The fact Gender Equality is a Global Goal is testament to the urgency and
respect we need to give this issue ~ which is by current data integral for
solving all major issues we have at serious crossroads.
It is also a great testament to feminists, women and men working within
those systems. We are no longer on the outside but we are treated as
outsiders ~ and misconstrued by misinformation and an organised attack by
patriarchy and one of it’s most destructive tools ~ misogyny.
Feminism ~ is the idea that we are and should all be equal. Feminism is a
movement of equality both for humanity and our environment. It’s focus on
social issues and their interconnectedness, of humanity as an ecosystem
and recognises the important and essential relationship we have with nature
and each other.
Women leaders are at the forefront ~ You’ll find Pania Newton at Ihumātao or
look to the leadership shown by young Women globally for our Climate Crisis
~ or our Women Human Rights and Environmental Defenders murdered each
year at an alarming and increasing rate.
We and the message we bring are feared by self interest and our current
position is reflected in the politics of today ~ as the acquisition of our rights
have stalled and in many places are being stripped away ~ and that dear friends is akin to a canary in the coal mine indicating further the rise of authoritarian regimes.
Patriarchy is a transnational, inter generational aggression. A war on Women.
~ and a war on the very systems which keep our life on earth viable.
How many of you are aware of terms such as Nationo-Ethno-Eco-Fascist?
Or heard the descriptor Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy?
Terms both describing quite plainly the intersections and accumulative
effects of specific structures that are embedded in our institutions. Cultures
that have kept women in bonds and are currently ravaging our planet.
Ideas live in these terms. They inspired the Christchurch shooter, inspired
Bolsonaro to sell and burn the Amazon, the Polish government to raid the
offices of Women advocating for Reproductive Justice and have put in jail
women who’ve suffered still birth.
Ideas which maim, pillage, destroy and exhaust our peoples and planet
‘to dominate others unto death’ and each of these terms have at heart
individualism, the separateness of everyone, by class, gender, ethnicity, that
one group is and should be more dominant than the other, worth more so
more powerful. A pernicious system that destroys the best we’ve found in human bonds.
This is patriarchy and this is what our systems have been modelled through.
At no cost to them but at all cost to everything else. Ecosystem beware ~
And aside from wrong ~ it’s not a sustainable model and we need to
Patriarchy use media well, their actions having real life consequences and
in the midst of our global information wars they tell us patriarchy doesn’t
exist and that Feminism and the fight for Gender Equality is done and over
years ago. We’re ruining men’s lives. They belittle and sexualise us,
broadcast that our movement is stagnant, full of infighting, that we lie and
scream, we’re neurotic, that we’re pagans.
They fund people and institutions who fight feminist discourse, pay people to
threaten us, misrepresent our work, print and broadcast shallow and
demeaning stereotypes or platform people who don’t represent us.
They work within the halls of power to dismantle our gains and the rights we
have worked to garner for all people and planet.
Women are free some say, women are just as bad as men others say.
Gender Equality is not as important as Climate Action too many say.
Research, experience and what we say tell a different story.
The brilliant Mary Robinson notes “If we took away barriers to Women’s
Leadership, we’d solve the Climate Change problem a lot faster” She also
says the denial of Climate Change is “malign and evil”.
Our prevention from participating and being leaders in all spheres indicates
an unwillingness for peaceful sustainable outcomes and is an
acknowledgment of the threat Gender Equality poses to the status quo.
Now lets be reminded who doesn’t want equitable outcomes and lets return
to patriarchy and the ways in which it is blinding, separating and destroying
pathways to equality.
Today’s research shows a clear line can be drawn from climate denial to
misogyny, white supremacy to hard lined right wing thinking and the
predominant capitalist model all of which are born from patriarchy ~
A society where men hold the power and women are largely excluded.
So I ask you to pay more attention to Gender Issues ~ None of the Global
Goals are possible without Gender Equality. Step outside of the stereotypes
presented and ingrained by uniformed opinion makers with their made up
history and educate yourself through legitimate resources and listen to our feminist leaders, its a different perspective.
Ask yourself who made your thoughts ~ where does your perspective come
from? We’re all saddled with with the false histories of injustice. Patriarchy
wrote the playbook and helped some of us with blinding privilege.
The voices yelling at the top of their lungs are the tools of patriarchy. They’re
not hard to spot. They don’t understand empathy or kindness and
cooperation, they don’t believe in an interconnectedness of life on earth.
They believe the poor make their own beds, that the market can and should
fix everything, that war is an essential part of life, that there is no room for
civil disobedience and that denying human rights to our most vulnerable is
all apart of the hierarchy ‘the natural order of things’ ~ all born from
patriarchal ideals ~ They have vested interests that are not so great.
So when you hear people who have lost their social licence to talk on behalf
the greater good, politicians, corporations or media men like Mike Hosking
don’t buy in ~ they serve ‘privilege and power, not truth and justice’. I ask
you to switch them off. Find greater and real knowledge elsewhere to
consume and back, because it’s now or never.
Our Climate Crisis has brought with it the opportunity to redefine our values
and guiding institutions, yet each of us have some way to go in our
understanding of this very real and important issue of Gender Equality.
So how to save the world ~ Ask her ~ she’ll say, “Do what’s right”.