Training and Developing Coordinator, Liezel van Schalkwyk, had the opportunity to represent Rape Crisis in Canada at the Women’s Worlds Conference. Here is what she had to say about her trip:
In July this year I was invited by Oxfam Canada to assist Emily Wilson with facilitating a session on Partcipatory Video at the Women’s Worlds Conference in Ottawa, Canada. Part of my visit was also to meet with CIDA to speak about the work of Rape Crisis which they fund through Oxfam. They were very impressed with what we do and with how we have been engaging with our Core Values process as an organisation. I also met with Rape Crisis Ottawa, who does not see walk-in clients and their address has to be kept secret. I felt very proud of RCCTT because we do see walk-ins, which I believe is important. Imagine if a survivor has the courage at a particular moment and not only doesn’t know where to go but also has to call to make an appointment for a week from then. What if the survivor loses her courage?
The Women’s Worlds Conference itself was absolutely amazing, mind-blowing and inspiring.
Three sessions began with a plenary and the last one ended with one. Each plenary had a different theme: Breaking Cycles, Breaking Barriers, Breaking Ceilings and Breaking Ground. There were amazing women on the panels speaking about various issues facing women and how we can work together to overcome them. It also looked at feminism and how even within the movement there are exclusions and seclusions. Example between classes, intellectual versus grass roots feminists etc. It was great that they were able to raise that.
There were so many sessions to choose from with so many varying topics. Some sessions more than met my expectations and others were a bit disappointing. Some of the sessions I had wanted to attend had been cancelled and so many more were running concurrently.
The Participatory Video presentations went amazingly well. There was such a positve response to it because of the fact that it is about people telling their own stories in their own voices and representing themselves as they want to be seen.
There was an opening ceremony with a throat singer who performed. It was a strange experience. She made ‘songs’ using her voice, from deep, guttural sounds to soft whispers. I was also able to attend a march to parliament in honour of missing Aboriginal women and girls.
I shared an apartment with a woman from Nicaragua. She couldn’t speak English and I couldn’t speak Spanish, so we developed a kind of shorthand in order to communicate things like when to go down for breakfast, etc. It was hilarious.
I also attended the Ottawa Blues Festival where I was able to see Stephen Marley, son of Bob Marley, perform. It was so much fun.
I am truly grateful for the experience of both attending the conference and experiencing Canada.