Staying In, Speaking Out: Women+ Forum and LUSU to host anti-violence against women event

‘LUSU is continuing to engage and support Women+’

Lancaster University Women+ Forum will host a safe space event on Thursday, November 25th, supporting the International Day of Elimination of Violence against Women.

“Staying In, Speaking Out” is an “event of empowerment and community to mark the day dedicated to eliminating misogyny-based violence”.

The event, which is being run in partnership with Lancaster University Students Union, is open to all women+ students and staff and will take place from 6-8 pm in the Students’ Union.

The “Staying In, Speaking Out” event will provide attendees with the opportunity to create posters for Alexandra Square and will offer free food to everyone in attendance.

‘Empowerment, community, and reflection’

We reached out to Lara Wade, General Secretay of Lancaster University’s Women+ Forum about the event and the rise in attention that violence against women has recently garnered. She said: “We wanted to hold an event surrounding issues raised and involved with the recent publicity about spiking culture and the safety of marginalised genders on nights out, but also more generally.

“November 25th is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and therefore we thought it the most opportune day to hold an event around these issues.

“We are the Women+ Forum; therefore, we are emphasising misogyny-based violence, as we acknowledge and understand that the victims of gender-based violence are not only cis women but non-binary people and transgender women too, all of whom we represent and support. This event is about empowerment, community, and reflection on the day dedicated to an endemic problem across the globe.”

‘It’s important that we come together to fight against it’

When asked about the importance of an issue such as violence against women, they said: “Misogyny-based violence is experienced across the globe and across our communities and is not getting any better.

“Only today, the Office for National Statistics released a report that, according to Sky News, stated domestic abuse-related crimes have increased by 6 per cent in England and Wales between March 2020 and March 2021, with 1.6 million women having suffered domestic abuse in the year preceding. This excludes those who cannot or do not report, those who suffer violence external to their homes, and those who are not women, like non-binary people.

“It happens in Lancaster, it happens in the UK, and it happens across the globe. It’s important that we come together to fight against it and work for the safety of ourselves and those who come after us.”

‘LUSU is continuing to engage and support Women+’

When asked why people should attend the event, she said: “This is an amazing opportunity to engage with other women+ people on campus; to learn, create and support one another. We are making posters to put up around Alex Square about these issues to educate others on campus, but making these posters is as important as their display.

“We want to encourage a community feeling on campus and make sure people know they’re not alone and have support. There will also be free pizza and cupcakes, which can be enjoyed in lovely company!

“Amy Merchant, LUSU VP Welfare, reached out to us to organise this event, and she has been integral in organising and supporting our contributions as to how this event will happen.

“LUSU has a much wider reach than we do as a liberation forum, and it’s also important to Amy and to us to show everyone that LUSU is continuing to engage and support women+ who experience misogyny-based violence and work to fight against it in the future.”

‘Education will always be the key’

We asked what the university could do to help prevent misogyny-based violence, and Lancaster Women+ Forum’s Vice-Chair, Jaimee, said: “In most cases, I believe education will always be the key. Education may raise awareness, which can subsequently snowball into actions, no matter how big or small.

“Support must begin at the student level, with awareness beginning during Welcome Week and extended to society executives and university employees that have contact with students.

“Finally, there must always be effective repercussions for those who violate such training, which will make students feel safer and valued.

‘Any level of misogyny needs to be challenged’

Finally, when asked about the spread of misogynistic attitudes across a university campus, they said: “When the harmful behaviours of others on a small scale are not challenged, it allows them to grow into large problems later. Any level of misogyny needs to be challenged at the point of origin to stop it from worsening.

“Actions speak to attitudes and beliefs, so someone being treated differently for their gender expression is always unacceptable no matter how small the action. If we let these things go unchecked at university, they will remain unchecked afterwards.

“Everyone, no matter their gender identity, needs to band together to tackle these attitudes now.”

“Staying In, Speaking Out” will be held in the Students’ Union between 6-8 pm on Thursday, November 25th. You can contact Lancaster University Women+ Forum for additional information.

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