Last Saturday, shesaid.so Belgium was invited as a part of an information and exchange initiative by the Belgian Archive and Research Centre for Women’s History (AVG-Carhif). The aim of the event was to share stories, inspire each other and build a collective memory of the so-called ‘second feminist wave’.
Starting in the 1970’s, feminism became an ever-growing movement, gaining more traction and attention in Belgian society up until now. Today, fifty years into the wave, AVG-Carhif calls all organizations working around gender diversity to share their piece of the puzzle. The goal? Working towards extensive documentation of what has been achieved so far.
As a young organization with a niche mission - shesaid.so is currently only focusing on the music industry, connecting professionals across the industry worldwide - it was an honor to be invited as part of the discussion and listen to our sisters who have been paving the way for years. Some of the panel members told us their personal stories, dreams and frustrations, reminding us how far we’ve come in the past fifty years.
We joined a book club session on the Little Red Book, published in 1972 by women in both Flanders and Wallonia. The book is a manifesto denouncing the societal structures limiting female freedom. One particurarly striking example was a law deciding that pregnant women could be prosecuted for going to work. One of the participating women added that she was obligated to provide the date of her last menstruation for a job application, as a means for her employer to make sure she wasn’t pregnant.
A few important remarks were made throughout the day. We’re still doing important work, because these challenges are nowhere near solved. At the same time it’s incredibly helpful looking back 50 years and seeing how big the impact has become compared to the early days. We’re also more aware of inclusivity within the feminist movement. In the 1970s, to make as big an impact as possible, women had to focus on what united them. Now, there’s more space to focus on what makes us different. Because let’s not forget, there are many different types of feminism. The needs and wishes differ greatly for lesbian women, trans women, women with or without disabilities, women from different backgrounds or ethnicities, … Our power lies in what makes us unique.
To see the results of this day, we’ll have to wait a while. AVG-Carhif is now collecting all archival materials to be exhibited next year at the Belvue Museum in Brussels. Mark your schedules for February 12th, and find more information here.