NEU Northern Ireland was one of the proud sponsors of the first Feminism in Schools Conference. The conference which was organised by NEU member Charlotte Carson and hosted by Hazelwood Integrated College. Charlotte Carson set up the Feminism in Schools Network in London in 2016 after a parliamentary report on the widespread sexual harassment of girls in schools. She moved home to Belfast in 2020 and brought her cause with her.

Under Charlotte’s guidance Students from Hazelwood Integrated College launched a feminist society on June 24, 2021. First on the agenda was to plan an ambitious Feminism in Schools Conference in 2022, and they achieved that vision earlier this month.

Feminism in schools conference

Politicians, parents, pupils, and exhibitors including NEU were all in attendance at the conference hosted by Hazelwood Integrated College.

Girls and boys from the society were out in force at the conference and spoke to attendees about their positive experiences. The conference aimed to lead teacher-training and peer education to challenge sexism in school and wider society and encourage girls and their teachers to set up Feminist Societies in their schools.

The morning kicked off with a political panel discussion, “Why do we need more women leaders in NI?” chaired by local journalist Amanda Ferguson. Attendees listened intently to the panel which consisted of Nichola Mallon (SDLP); Fiona Ferguson (PBP); Julie-Anne Corr Johnson (UUP); Fiona Ferguson (People Before Profit); and Aoife Clements (50:50NI). Panellists spoke about their experiences in leaderships, shared podcast, and book recommendations as well as stories about the other women who have inspired them.

After lunch, the conference broke out into specialist workshops including “Education & Skills for activism” and “How to be a feminist activist.”

Closing remarks were delivered from the Lord Mayor, Kate Nicholl.

NEU will soon host a teacher training webinar for members interested in feminism in schools or setting up their own feminist society. Updates will be issued to members and posted online.