Community Classroom

Video Series Amplifies the Voices of Women

A light grey concrete sidewalk is spray painted with the phrase "Feminists Walk Among You."
Author: Rachel Stern, VIU Communications Officer

Feminist Conversations in the COVID-19 Era

A video-based interview series, Zoom In: Women Making Impacts, is shining a light on feminist issues and amplifying the voices of women on Vancouver Island.

The series was created by Dr. Melissa Stephens, a Vancouver Island University (VIU) English Professor and Chair for the VIU Faculty Association’s Status of Women Committee, with the aim of allowing women from diverse backgrounds to share their ideas, passions, projects, labour and vision, especially as they work toward building a just and more equitable society. 

A pair of red shoes stand on a light grey concrete sidewalk that is spray painted with the phrase "Feminists Walk Among You."

Image courtesy of Dr. Melissa Stephens

Stephens is the host and interviews a different guest every episode. The first couple of episodes featured women from VIU, but Stephens says she wants to expand that and eventually host a range of women from across Vancouver Island.

Stephens says she chose the video format because embodiment is important to her, especially from an anti-racist feminist perspective. 

“Anti-racist feminists tend to value lived experience in the face of patriarchal, colonialist knowledge regimes that have worked to silence racialized women in particular. In the age of COVID-19, it’s crucial that we cultivate public virtual spaces in which to draw upon the critical perspectives and projects of diverse women living in our communities. This is part of the necessary project of acknowledging the specific burdens that they face during this era,” she says, adding that the series models respectful, open-ended dialogue between women.

Stephens hopes to build video collection that will be viewed by others as an archive of local feminist history.

“Too often, women’s everyday contributions are overlooked. When we do recognize or honour women, we tend to focus on public figures who already have some power,” says Stephens. “There is a long history of feminist activism involving different styles of leadership and community-building that we can learn from. I hope in the process of working on this video series, that we may be inspired by women taking action in our communities now.”

The fifth episode of the series – Homes and Homelessness: Women’s Struggles, Resilience and Action – was created in honour of International Women’s Day and featured a panel discussion about the distinct barriers that diverse women face to secure safe homes and housing and reflected on the resilience of women and the actions needed to combat the global housing crisis.

The panelists shed light on how women’s experiences of homelessness are underestimated and misunderstood. The conversations challenged listeners to prioritize the experiences and knowledge of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) and immigrant women “so they can be central in the decision-making to improve and transform housing opportunities.”

Other episodes include:

Ep. 4, Educating Ourselves, Educating Our Kids: Sex Positivity, Safety and Research with Kerri Isham. Isham runs her own company called Power Up Education and specializes in sexual health education for preschool to Grade 12. 

Ep. 3, We’re All Made of Particles: Song, Blackness & Community with Sonnet L’abbé, a VIU Creative Writing and Journalism Professor and an award-winning poet.

Ep. 2, Hope is the Risk that Must be Run: Silent No More with Dr. Imogene Lim, a VIU Anthropology Professor and VIUFA Chair for the International Human Rights and Solidarity Committee.

Ep. 1, Stretching Our Imagination with Dr. Joy Gugeler, a VIU Creative Writing and Journalism Professor.

Learn more about Zoom In: Women Making Impacts by visiting VIUFA’s website.


Related Posts