Meet the Committee

The Women’s Campaign Committee is made up of women and non-binary students who want who coordinate campaigns, represent marginalised students and promote discussions about feminism in Cambridge.

The Exec is coordinated by the Women’s Sabbatical Officer and the committee is elected in Easter term each year by the entirety of the Women’s Campaign.

I’m Lola [she/her], the CUSU Women’s Officer (2017-18). I coordinate the Women’s Campaign Executive which consists of:

3 x Open Portfolio Campaigners
BME Rep
LGB+ Rep
Trans Rep
Disabled Students’ Rep
Media and Outreach Officer
Zine Officer
Grad Women’s Rep
Non-Binary Rep

International Women’s Rep
Secretary

You can find my Facebook profile here and my twitter here. Feel free to email me on womens@cusu.cam.ac.uk

I studied English at Selwyn College and ran for Women’s Officer because I think justice and liberation work is some of the most important work people can do. I like to think about envisioning a feminist future which requires a rethinking of all oppressive structures. No woman or non-binary person should be left behind. Cambridge is one of the few unions that has full time liberation officers and this should be protected at all costs because womcam is a vehicle through which we can challenge authority and change the way the university operates. As women’s officer I’m part of a legacy of women who have created, nurtured and maintained a space for themselves in an institution that was not made for them. In my first year, the women’s campaign was a space for activists to come together and struggle, rant, share solidarity and be comforted by one another. I hope to recreate that same space for other people.

 


THE WOMEN’S CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE 2017-8

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Claire Solenski Smith [she/her] ~ Zine Officer ✿

Why did you run for Womcam?
Womcam has been one of my most worthwhile pursuits at uni, so I really wanted to be part of the team. Womcam is such an important space and I feel really proud to be working with such incredible people. Zines have equally been really important for me when navigating places where I don’t really feel comfortable, so it’s pretty dreamy to be zine officer in a place where feminism, grassroots organisation and art activism is so necessary

What got you interested in feminism?
Honestly, anger. I was frustrated with a lot around me. I was always reading a lot, and I think that opened my eyes to gendered violence, and my anger keeps becoming more productive. I set up the feminist society at my sixth form and it changed my life. The people I met through the society continue to inspire me and reinforce a sense of self that has been really shaken by the hypermasculine practices of Cambridge.

What does feminism & feminist work mean to you?
Feminism means freedom to me. Feminist work is hard work, and I’ve been working to tackle my own prejudice and internalised misogyny. It can be hard to admit that you’re wrong, but that’s the only way that feminist spaces can progress.

Any good feminist art, books, podcast, articles, films you’d recommend?
Jenny Holzer’s truisms resonate somewhere deep inside of me, along with Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits, Tavi Gevinson’s Rookiemag, Amy Rose Speigel’s book ‘Action’ is like my bible, Anne Carson’s translation of Sappho, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

How can people contact you?

Find me on facebook, or email me at cmss2@cam.ac.uk.

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Anna Pick [she/her] ~ Media and Publicity Officer ❃

Why did you run for Womcam?:
I’ve been involved with the campaign for a couple of years, and have always felt like collective action is a great antidote to Cambridge life as well as being a really important cause – the big emphasis on self-care and self-love as forms of radical politics in their own right has been especially eye opening for me. It’s also a community of amazing and intelligent people, and I look forward to working with many of them this year.

What got you interested in feminism?
My school had a strong feminist ethos and really celebrated women and their achievements. In retrospect it was a pretty sheltered form of feminism, but school was definitely where I first started engaging with women’s issues. I think the next few years could be a decisive moment in feminist politics: it feels like we’re facing a huge backlash against some of the achievements of the last couple of decades, but there’s also a renewed urgency in activist movements. I think it’s a crucial time to be thinking about and acting on these issues.

What does feminism and feminist work mean to you?
What I’ve learnt in Cambridge is that activist groups don’t work if people aren’t willing to listen and reflect as well as talk. Reflecting on privilege and your own position in an oppressive system involves genuine effort and introspection. Gloria Steinam talks about the ‘magic of talking circles’ and I really believe in this. Online networks are a great resource, but there’s an incredible power in physically sharing a space with people to talk or protest.

Any good feminist art, books, podcast, articles, films you’d recommend?Podcast: ‘Another Round’
Books: Gloria Steinam My Life on the Road, Jeanette Winterson Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, anything by Judith Butler (queer theorist)
Article: Donna Haraway ‘A Cyborg Manifesto’ (deals with feminist implications of artificial intelligence and cybernetics)

How can people contact you?
Email me at this address : arp71@cam.ac.uk

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Mira Nadarajah [she/her] ~ International Rep ♦

Why did you run for WomCam?
The feminist agenda in Cambridge is very much influenced by the experience of the British woman. I ran for WomCam because I thought it would be a good way to vocalise and address the concerns of women from a range of backgrounds, nationalities, and cultures. WomCam has always been such an empowering community of diverse women, and I’m very excited to spend my last year in Cambridge listening and learning from these various perspectives!

What got you interested in feminism?
Having come from a young nation built on conservative Asian values, feminism (whether as a form of activism or academic interest) was not something I was particularly familiar with when I first came to Cambridge. Being among such confident, strong-willed women and learning about feminism through my college’s feminist forum, first got me interested in feminism. Since then, feminism has provided me with the much needed outlet to understand, reconcile and most importantly, stand up to the discriminations I’ve experienced, but didn’t previously understand.

What does feminism and feminist work mean to you?
Growing up female within a South Asian community, I got the sense that I was held to a certain set of expectations, be it in the way I dressed, carried myself or even spent my time. More often than not, these standards were archaic and sexist. Feminism has given me the confidence and courage to reject these norms and to pave my own way to womanhood. As such, to me, feminism and feminist work means having the language to interpret, criticize, and consequently combat the discriminations you face as a woman.

Feminist books, podcasts, art, films you’d recommend?
Ayqa Khan – Pakistani-American artist taking a stand to normalise body hair;

Blythe Baird – Spoken-word poet whose poetry examines the world through the lens of intersectional feminism, and delves into topics like eating disorders, rape culture, and being a part of the lgbtq community

How can people contact you?
Via Email: mn458@cam.ac.uk; I’m also pretty active on Facebook and will happy to talk on messenger or in person as well.

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Arenike Adebajo [she/her] ~ Black and Minority Ethnic Rep ❈

Why did you run for Womcam?
I’ve spent two years as part of FLY, Cambridge’s network for women and non-binary people of colour, and ran the blog and zine for the group in my second year. I’ll be the facilitator for FLY this year, and running for Womcam offered the opportunity to learn more about feminism, to continue to help making Cambridge a space where women and non-binary people of colour can thrive, and work with a talented and inspiring group of people.

What got you interested in feminism?
I can’t actually remember! I think it started with me questioning dynamics in Nigerian households, which are generally rooted in cultural and traditional understandings of gender roles. Then reading Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist a few years ago helped me start thinking more seriously about feminism, and get to grips with terms like intersectionality, womanism, self-care etc. It was really freeing to finally have the language to speak about my experiences.

What does feminism & feminist work mean to you?
To me, feminism and feminist work mean questioning and working to dismantle oppressive societal structures. It’s imperative that it’s an intersectional practice, which must take into account the differences in our experiences and ensure that the most marginalised voices are not drowned out, but amplified. It’s about contextualising ourselves within historical and global struggles for liberation while having the flexibility to react to the demands of the present. And as Audre Lorde writes, it’s not about watering down our grievances or making them palatable, but realising that anger “focused with precision…can become a powerful source of energy serving progress and change.”

Any good feminist art, books, podcast, articles, films you’d recommend?
Podcast: Another Round, ROOKIE (especially the interview with Lorde), Call Your Girlfriend
Books: There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce by Morgan Parker, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Films: Appropriate Behaviour, Hidden Figures
Articles:A Love Profane’ by Doreen St Felix, ‘The Uses of Anger’ by Audre Lorde, ‘Trusting Your Own Authority’ by Mariam Ansar
Art: Betye Saar! She’s an incredible African-American visual artist who uses collage and assemblage to explore racial stereotypes, ancestral connectedness, ritual objects, nostalgia and personal and collective memory

How can people contact you?
Come to FLY meetings + forum! Happy to chat IRL anytime, and I can also be reached via:
Facebook: Arenike Adebajo; Email: aa893@cam.ac.uk
FLY Group on Facebook; FLY email account: flygirlsofcambridge@gmail.com 

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Alex Rowe [she/her] ~ Open Portfolio Campaigner ✪

Why did you run for Womcam?
I started coming to Forum in second year and was completely inspired and impressed by the radical space that had been nurtured by the CUSU Women’s Officer and the WomCam committee. I wanted to actively contribute to sustaining and expanding the Women’s Campaign, but I’m also interested in the ways in which student and local activism can help to dismantle oppression that occurs on a global scale. My campaign aims to raise awareness of the challenges and injustices faced by women and non-binary asylum seekers, refugees and undocumented immigrants, and to use WomCam as a platform to amplify their voices in the university and Cambridge as a whole.

What got you interested in feminism?
I started to read articles about gender, bodies and eating disorders by Susie Orbach and Laurie Penny when I was about fourteen (though I’m now sceptical of both writers!), around the same time as I became interested in politics, and the two interests quickly converged. Talking to my mother about her experiences as a mixed-race woman growing up and working in London, and witnessing the unpaid labour she undertook during my childhood, cemented in my mind the importance of feminist work.

What does feminism & feminist work mean to you?
For me, feminism and feminist work have two central facets: Firstly, questioning the institutions and hierarchies which subjugate and limit people of all genders, and secondly listening and responding to the multitude of women and non-binary people’s lived experiences.

Feminist books, podcasts, art, films you’d recommend?
I LOVE podcasts!! A recent discovery was the bitchmedia.org podcasts, Popaganda and Backtalk- both feature feminist analysis of current affairs and pop culture!
For my dissertation I’ve been reading lots of Amrit Wilson’s work, including her book Finding a Voice, which includes powerful and heartbreaking testimonies from British Asian women about mental illness and domestic violence.

How can people contact you?
Facebook- Alex Rowe
Email- ar805@cam.ac.uk

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Cora Chalaby [she/her] ~ Open Portfolio Campaigner ☼

Why did you run for Womcam?
I ran for WomCam as after two years of co-running Pembroke’s feminism society, I wanted to get involved with university feminism on a far bigger scale and believed my feminism would develop allot through being on the committee. My campaign, ‘Learning Differences’,  engages with gender, forms of disability and neuro-diversity, I think these issues are often overlooked.   Am very excited to be involved in this!

What got you interested in feminism?
I originally got interested in feminism through becoming aware of and feeling the need to question the ‘traditional domestic set up’ and ‘gender-norms’ in my family. It was through conversations with my older sister, who has played a major role in shaping my feminism, that I developed an strong interest  of these problems more broadly and desire to rebel against them.Reading Linda Nochlin’s “Why are there no great women artists” aged 16 was a real bulb moment. It made me  think critically, get angry about, and fascinated by, why there was not  lack of not only ‘women artists’ in the cultural mainstream, but politicians, writers, thinkers, broadcasters etc.

What does feminism & feminist work mean to you?
To me Feminism and feminist works means exposing the gender hierachy for what it is and the ways it is encoded in every aspect of life. It means questioning inequality, stereotypes and underlying assumptions that act as barriers to all those engaged in the intersectional struggle against the patriarchy.

Feminist books, podcasts, art, films you’d recommend?
Have been reading allot of poetry by Barbara Guest recently, its not explicilty political but often reflects in quite abstract way on gender and what it means to be a ‘female poet’.
Books: in Her Own Image by Danielle Knafo, Oranges are not the only fruit – Jeanette Winterson
Art: Grace Hartigan’s figurative work, Dorothea Tanning (see also the instragram thegreatwomanartists)

What’s your campaign for the year?
Raising awareness about how disability provision in Cambridge is gendered

How can people contact you? 
Facebook: Corinne Chalaby, ctc42@cam.ac.uk , always happy to talk!

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Flic Kersting [she/her] ~ LGB+ Women’s Rep ✴

Why did you run for Womcam?
Feminism has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember and I really wanted to get more involved with it on a university level and beyond as well as continue learning more about it from the people around me. I felt being a queer woman has affected my perspective on a lot of things throughout my life and I wanted to contribute to the representation of and help create a feeling of community and support across the university for LGB+ women and non-binary people as well as raising awareness for issues faced by LGB+ women on a wider scale. I’m really excited to get started!

What got you interested in feminism?
I first became interested in feminism when I noticed that typically ‘feminine’ traits, for example emotionality, were devalued so often particularly in the media, resulting in women’s opinions being discounted or taken less seriously than men’s. At the same time, I also became aware of how the pervasive rape culture in our society affects women’s lives so strongly. These two factors inspired me to learn more about feminism and push back against the inequality faced by women daily. At my secondary school, the scope of feminism generally excluded queer & trans women and non-binary people, causing me to focus on intersectionality and learn about different women’s & non-binary people’s experiences of the patriarchy and perspectives on feminism as well as how women/non-binary people can support each other effectively even when they do not share the same experiences.

What does feminism & feminist work mean to you?
For me, feminism and feminist work is any work which pushes against the patriarchy and its related expectations of women as well as work that sheds light on the daily inequalities faced by women which often go unnoticed. It’s women and non-binary people coming together to support each other as we refuse to accept the barriers put in place for us, acknowledging that not everyone shares the same experience and we need to stand in solidarity and support each other’s experience. It means allowing women to make choices about their lives and their bodies, drawing attention to areas where this is not an option and pushing back against it to cause change.

Any good feminist art, books, podcasts, articles, films you’d recommend?
Audre Lorde’s poetry & essays
Rupi Kaur’s art & poetry
Soofiya Andry’s zines, poetry & art
Nayyirah Waheed’s poetry
Feminist Foreign Policy (afeministforeignpolicy.com) has some good articles

How can people contact you?
Facebook – Flic Kersting, fmgk2@cam.ac.uk, talk to me in person when you see me!

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Miriam Gauntlett [she/her] ~ Secretary ✺

Why did you run for Womcam?

I ran for WomCam because coming to Forum each week has been one of the highlights of my time at Cambridge — it’s such an incredible and radical space full of inspirational, wonderful people. I feel so lucky to be able to learn and grow from the conversations that happen there, and I wanted to become more involved in creating and contributing to such an important space. Also I am a total nerd who loves to organise things.

What got you interested in feminism?
My mother! She’s the most inspirational woman I know and is an incredible activist and feminist who has taught me so much. The slightly excessive amount of time I spent on tumblr as a young teen also helped introduce me to a lot of different feminist ideas and critiques.

What does feminism & feminist work mean to you?
To me, feminism and feminist work means learning about the ways in which capitalism, imperialism and the patriarchy shape both the world we live in and the systems that govern it. It means fighting for liberation from those systems in order to end the oppression of all women and non-binary people across the world. It means demanding justice for people who are suffering and have suffered from persecution and maltreatment. It means standing in solidarity with, and listening to, people whose experience of inequality differs from my own. It means fighting against those injustices that don’t affect me just as strongly as I fight against those that do. It means understanding the way that oppressions intersect and making sure that the spaces we create are inclusive and welcoming to everyone. It means supporting, respecting and standing up for other women and non-binary people. It means learning from and growing with them.

Any good feminist art, books, podcast, articles, films you’d recommend?
Recently I read Women, Race & Class by Angela Davis, and it’s honestly an absolute must read – Davis is insightful, knowledgeable and writes so clearly on the intersection between racism, classism and sexism. It focuses on the US and the beginnings of the women’s movement there, but it is still completely applicable to the global movement today.

Living a Feminist Life by Sara Ahmed is brilliant, as is her entire blog: https://feministkilljoys.com. Her writing is clever, perceptive and will change the way you understand and experience feminist politics for the better!

A couple of books that I would recommend for people interested in women in STEM are Rosalind Franklin and DNA by Anne Sayre, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

I don’t listen to podcasts very often but lately I’ve been really enjoying Bethany Rutter’s Hello Friend podcast, where she chats to interesting people she knows about anything from relationships, books and food to plus size fashion, homophobia and films.

I love the twitter account @womensart, which is always introducing me to amazing and thought-provoking art by women! I also enjoy @ambivalentlyyours’s illustrations on Instagram.

How can people contact you?
Through Facebook (Miriam Gauntlett) or email mzg22@cam.ac.uk, I’m always happy to chat!

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Christie Costello [she/her] ~ Open Portfolio Campaigner ★

Why did you run for Womcam?
Being involved with Womcam for the last two years has reinforced my belief in the power of collective action. I had an idea for a feminist project and knew that it would be far more effective with mutual guidance, support and collaboration with other women & non-binary people that I respect. (Also I love the snacks at forum…)

What got you interested in feminism?
I’ve had an interest in feminism for as long as I can remember, because I was lucky enough to grow up in a household with a staunchly feminist mother. She has always acknowledged and discussed the patriarchy, etc. with me as I was growing up. She tried to protect me from sexism as much as she could, and validated my inevitable experiences of misogyny with solidarity and encouragement to take up the feminist cause like she has.

What does feminism & feminist work mean to you?
Feminism means recognising the transformative power of feminist collective action to liberate all women & nb people by dismantling systems of structural oppression. Feminist work requires acknowledging that every woman/nb person experiences oppression differently: oppressions intersect and compound depending on someone’s specific lived experience and identity. It means platforming and listening to the voices of other women, especially those who experience different intersectional oppressions from your own. It means acknowledging your own complicity in structural oppression and working towards deconstructing that system. It also requires acknowledgement that it’s ok to rest and step back from activism: as Audre Lorde said ‘Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.’

Any good feminist art, books, podcast, articles, films you’d recommend?
Books: Lorna Finlayson, An Introduction to Feminism, 2016 – I saw her give a lecture on feminism with no shoes on, bought this book, it is 11/10 (especially if you’re not sure where to start). I Love Dick by Chris Kraus is a ‘novel’ but everything in it is true. It helped me realise that the state of humiliation/abjection so many women are relegated to by the patriarchy can actually be a site of power: a place to find a powerful and necessary voice. Also, people’s reaction to the title when you read it on the tube is really hilarious. Oh, and Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider is a classic for a reason!

Art: Barbara Kruger’s paste ups, Marina Abramovic’s Rhythm 0, Celeste Mountjoy (aka Filthy Ratbag), Hannah Wilke, Kate Durbin’s Women as Objects, Carolee Schneemann’s Up to and Including Her Limits, Artemisia Gentileschi, Ana Mendieta, Polly Nor, Claude Cahun’s I am in training, don’t kiss me, Tracey Moffatt, Gina Pane.

Podcasts: Call Your Girlfriend, The Heart.

How can people contact you?
My Cambridge email address: cwc49@cam.ac.uk (or facebook).

What is your campaign about?
Christine Pungong and I are co-organising a campaign aimed at highlighting the individual experiences of a diverse range of women and non-binary people through a series of pre-recorded interviews which we will release as podcasts. We chose this format due to its accessibility for both women at the university and beyond, including those who are unable to access physical Womcam meetings and discussions. We’re especially interested in taking an intersectional approach to disability and gender.

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Ellie Byrne [they/them] ~ Role: Non-Binary Rep ✲

Why did you run for Womcam?
I came to my first Womcam forum at the beginning of my second year and I haven’t missed one since. Having access to such a friendly and supportive space quickly became essential to my Cambridge routine. I ran because I wanted to help make Womcam as inclusive as possible and to carve out a little more space within the University for nb students, and also because I see working with Womcam as a way of focussing my frustrations with the University in a positive and productive direction.

What got you interested in feminism?
I found my way to feminism in my early teens. It gave me the ability to put words to my experiences and this in itself made everything feel much easier to deal with. It was like being handed a set of tools with which to start making sense of the world.

What does feminism and feminist work mean to you?
Feminism and feminist work for me means a continual process of interrogation. My ideas are constantly changing and evolving with everything I read and everything I learn about the experiences of other women and non-binary people.

Any Feminist books, podcasts, art you recommend?
Roxane Gay – Bad Feminist, Hunger
Maggie Nelson – The Argonauts
Audre Lorde – Sister Outsider

How can people contact you?
I’m usually at every Forum.