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By Sarah Ward
March 05, 2021
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By Sarah Ward
March 05, 2021
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Across the past eight years, Sydney's All About Women festival has featured sessions on everything from hip hop and toxic masculinity to the post-#MeToo era — and, for its ninth iteration in 2021, it's once again presenting an exciting and eclectic program. When the event returns on Sunday, March 7, it'll feature talks, panels, workshops and films about the evolution of the feminist movement, its limitations, the gendered nature of household responsibilities, misogynistic online communities and the judgements built into artificial intelligence. There's also a session about coping with doomscrolling, because that topic couldn't be more relevant after the past 12 months.

Once again, the fest will take place around International Women's Day — happening the day before, though, so it can still be held on a weekend. And while AAW has always covered a huge array of bases each and every year, there is a particular focus on power structures that limit the female experience in 2021. That subject will come through in sessions about identity, sexuality and resilience, and others that explore technology, entrenched inequalities and feminist futures. Talks about sex work and mindfulness are also on the bill, too.

Leading the lineup of speakers is writer Isabel Allende, who'll be discussing her 2021 memoir The Soul of a Woman — which explores her role in the feminist movement across continents, cultures, and centuries. She's joined on the program by How to Be A Woman and More Than a Woman author Caitlin Moran, who'll examine the realities of of middle-aged life; Koa Beck, the ex-Jezebel editor-in-chief who penned White Feminism: From the Suffragettes to Influencers and Who They Leave Behind; and Laura Bates, author of Everyday Sexism and Men Who Hate Women and founder of the Everyday Sexism Project — with the ways in which the individual is often valued over the community and the corners of the internet swaying the mindsets of boys and young men all on the agenda.

Isabel Allende. Image: Lori Barra

For folks interested in AI, researcher and professor Kate Crawford will chat about machine classification and its role in entrenching inequality. Covering completely different subjects, one panel session will examine the often-complicated relationship between sex work and feminism, too, while another talk will help participants learn to cope with uncertainty in today's COVID-afflicted world. Or, attendees can head to workshops about making zines, weaving baskets — as led by Yorta Yorta woman Tegan Murdock and her mum Margaret Murray — and using music to help let go of the past.

Unsurprisingly given the state of Australia's international borders, speakers from overseas will appear via video, rather than in-person. For those who can't attend AAW in person — including those located outside of Sydney — some sessions will be live-streamed as well, and made available to watch on-demand afterwards.

The jump to online also includes AAW's film component. Two documentaries, Brazen Hussies and Coded Bias, will screen at the Opera House — and they'll also be available to stream online, alongside a lineup of short documentaries from female Australian filmmakers.

Top image: Prudence Upton

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