I run an annual project in Manchester called the International 16, where each year 16 university students from 16 different countries come together to celebrate cultural diversity, equality, and promote international friendship. It is a joy, every year, to witness the group start as strangers, and part as friends. The project has a group at Manchester University and a group at Salford University, the latter are my cohort. In this, my fifth year running the International 16, I’ve begun sharing our adventures online.
To mark International Women’s Day 2015, some of our International 16 came together this week to celebrate equality and share why #INeedFeminismBecause.
After my season in the sun at home in Australia, I caught up with a dear Mancunian friend yesterday. She had seen people’s wonderful response to the 16’s photos on Instagram, and we were talking about the process of the group making these signs to mark International Women’s Day.
Did anyone have any trouble answering the question of why they need feminism, she asked me.
They didn’t, I answered, realising the marvel that was the group’s cohesion – they were like wildfire in their responses to me asking them if they would like to be involved. Unstoppable, beautiful, big-hearted and relentless in their discussions as their signs came together. Perhaps that’s been the most meaningful part of doing this exercise as a group from different places around the world, to answer the question of why we need feminism, and what feminism means to us.
I could not be prouder to share their responses here.