The Women of the Global South and its Diasporas: Rights, Representation, Activism Symposium

Ope Adegbulu
School of Law
University of Leeds



The Women of the Global South and its Diasporas: Rights, Representation, Activism Symposium took place on the 5th of June, 2018 at the School of Law, University of Leeds. We were successful in bringing together various academics and activists, not only from the UK, but also from Europe, Asia, African and the Americas. These speakers were from a variety of disciplines looking at different ways of bridging the gap between women’s issues in the Global South and feminist scholarship.

Women’s Paths Symposium explored how feminist scholarship and practice coalesce to create real change for women of the Global South, including in the diaspora. This Symposium explored pertinent topics relating to women in the global south and its diasporas. The panels were organised thematically: activist spaces, film/TV interventions, embodied practices, transgressions against black bodies and intersectional healthcare. In addition to this, we also hosted a workshop on cultivating black girl joy as well as digital art displays.  This was an important platform to hear and discuss urgent issues, challenges, initiatives and achievements which are significant to the lives of women of colour. These papers included: combating discrimination against LGBT women in Tunisia, defining us: ancestry as black women’s tool against racism in Brazil,  acknowledging activists in research on activism: taking the lead from Namibian activists addressing violence against women and girls, and the role of professional status in the intersection of identities in healthcare.

PGRs within the White rose consortium of universities attended and participated in the Symposium as well as PGRs and other early career researchers in feminism or gender studies, postcolonial studies or decolonialisation within the UK.  It was a warm and friendly but critical space to present their research and receive feedback which could be useful for their research and hopefully enact change in their respective fields.

Among the unexpected outcomes were the interest in the call for paper from researchers  and activists outside the UK, even though we only shared and circulated the call for papers within the UK. We were pleasantly surprised that the majority of speakers consisted of women of colour and LGBTQIPOC (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex people of colour). This goes against the grain, as most academic conferences have a small or negligible representation of people of colour.  It is very important that we created a space that challenged the predominantly white and global north systematic structures in academia. This is especially important in this era of calls for decolonialisation of curricula and academic spaces. We also had attendees who were members of the general public and undergraduate students even though they were not the main target audience of the symposium.

Ope Adegbulu