Ellen Woodsworth is a former Vancouver City Councillor working with an intersectional lens for social justice, economic equality and environmentally sound planning. She founded Women Transforming Cities and is Chair of the Board. See www.ellenwoodsworth.comfor more details.
What is Women Transforming Cities? Women Transforming Cities International Society is a non profit, volunteer run organization dedicated to making cities work for women and girls. We do that by putting an intersectional lens on city policies, programs, staffing, budgets and funding. We launched our organization in the Vancouver City Hall Council Chambers May 2011. All our work is on our website. We are committed to diversity. We have held a sold out Pecha Kucha at the Vogue Theatre, over 25 Cafes, a sold out national conference reaching out to elected, city unions, academics, urbanists and women’s organizations; two Best Practices Awards; a “Hot Pink Paper Municipal Election Campaign” with our partners which identified eleven key issues for women and girls and solutions for each issues.
How did, #FierceVoices, a collaboration between Women Transforming Cities and Rabble.ca, come about?#FierceVoices began after a discussion between folks at rabble.ca and Women Transforming Cities about a shared desire to see more and stronger women in media, hear more women’s stories, and have more women involved in the tasks of media production. A key piece of that change is the development of on-the-ground skills and capacity- building.
The series aims to claim space for women in media. It focuses on both analyzing representation in media and building capacity for women to create their own voices and media platforms. The events aim to especially highlight marginalized voices, voices that are silenced in mainstream media.
We enter conversations and media analysis with an intersectional lens and recognize that Aboriginal women, women of colour, immigrant women, queer and trans* women, and all women belonging to marginalized groups face disproportionate misrepresentation in media. We aim to provide space for these #fiercevoices to be amplified.
Why is #FierceVoices needed now? #FierceVoices is needed now as representation in and lack of involvement in media production directly contribute to the status of women in society. By organizing events to get women — especially young women — together to critically examine media and also collaborate on ways to build capacity to work with media systems or create their own forms of media, #FierceVoices hopes to carve space for women well beyond its own influence. We hope to create a culture where #fiercevoices are heard loud and clear through all mediums!
How did you get involved in WTC? I, Ellen Woodsworth former Vancouver City Councillor, came up with the idea at the World Urban Forum in Barcelona Spain after talking to some of the EU delegates about their focus on women in cities. I took the idea of “designing cities for women” to the Vancouver Women’s Advisory Committee and we struck a subcommittee which created a flyer and a website out of which grew the organization.
What changes would you like to see in Vancouver to have an ideal city for women and girls? I would like to see the city implement all the recommendations in the Hot Pink Paper.
Could you tell us about Hot Pink Paper Campaign? The Hot Pink Paper Campaign drew together partners who had cohosted Cafes with Women Transforming Cities and developed the key issues in the Paper. We wrote up ‘backgrounders’ explaining each issue. We had a launch at Vancouver City Hall after which we took the Hot Pink Papers into the council chambers and gave a package to the Mayor and each Councillor. We distributed them to all the political parties and at the All Candidates meetings, through the media, Facebook and Twitter. All the parties endorsed all or most of the issues.
What is WTC working on now? We are a member of a five city organization that will be launching an Equity and Inclusion How to Guide for Canadian Municipalities at the AGM of the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination June 8/15; a member of the Up for Debate 2015 Alliance; we are working on amplifying the voices of young women through a series of events that will conclude with a forum at the SFU Wosk Centre. In the fall we will hand out the youth WISE Practice Awards with a special stream focused on Aboriginal women. Meanwhile we continue to host monthly Cafes with plans for Cafes on making a mother friendly city and a city that works for women at night and have been asked to speak at the International Women Friendly Cities conference in Turkey this spring and do a UN Habitat Urban Thinkers Forum in Quito, Equator in 2016.
What is rabble.ca’s connection to #fiercevoices? Rabble.ca is committed to Canadian-based news, analysis and comment from a progressive perspective. It was launched in 2001 and was built on the efforts of progressive journalists, writers, artists and activists across the country, including a diverse range of strong feminist voices and figures.
Join us on Saturday, May 23rd, for #FierceVoices: Ignite! Young Women Making Media!
#FierceVoices: Ignite! Young Women Making Media, an event organized by Women Transforming Cities and Rabble.ca to inspire, amplify and celebrate young women’s voices through media. Join us on May 23rd at the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue for a FREE afternoon of inspiring speakers and performances. Mingle with like-minded young women and allies at the media fair, and find ways to get your #FierceVoice heard! You can find the event information here.