About UK Feminista
UK Feminista supports individuals and groups to campaign for equality between women and men. We do this by:
providing campaigning resources and training
acting as a bridge between activists at a grassroots level and women's/feminist organisations
facilitating links between activists
profiling and celebrating feminist activism in the UK
promoting public awareness about gender inequality and the need for feminism
Contents P 2 Why set up a feminist
P 3 Recruiting members
P 5 Meetings
P 6 Working together as a group
P 7 Communications
P 7 Keep people coming
P 8 We have a group! Now
S “All around me I could see people being treated differently just because of their gender, but no one seemed to be doing anything. So I decided to take matters into my own hands – I decided to set up a feminist society.”
Saoirse, Fortismere School o, you want to set up a feminist group in your school or college? Or maybe you want to make your existing group bigger and better? Either way, you’ve come to the right place. This UK Feminista guide is designed to help you set up and run a strong feminist group, one that really makes a difference in your school or college and beyond.
Why set up a feminist group?
School and college feminist activist groups are crucial to reclaiming feminism and ending inequalities between women and men.
Camden School for Girls’ FemSoc model their own ‘This is
what a Feminist looks like’ t-shirts Make change happen Ending gender inequality will require fundamental transformation in society. So it won’t simply happen because of a small group of policy makers in government – everyone needs to be actively involved in that process of change. That means you, your friends, your school or college, and your community too!
Tackle issues in your school You are ideally placed to challenge sexism in your school or college and local community. Schools and colleges exist for their students, so you have power to demand big changes.
Be the visible face of feminism at your school Your group can be a first port of call for individuals in your school or college who are interested in feminism. What’s more, by being a voice for feminism, your group can challenge the myth that gender inequality is a thing of the past.
Friendship and morale Tackling sexism and making change happen can take time and there will be set-backs along the way. Campaigning together as a group means you can encourage and support each other.
To get your feminist group started you need some members! Even if it’s just three or four of you – that’s enough to get the ball rolling. Here are some ways to start attracting people to your group:
Talk to a teacher about you plans to set up a group and ask if they will support you. Having a teacher onside will make it much easier for your group to function as they will able to help with tasks such as booking rooms for meetings and events.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know that you have set up a group and we can put you on our map of local groups.
Put on a talk or assembly Many students in your school or college won’t know much about feminism or why it’s relevant to them. Putting on a talk about why gender inequality is an issue and why they should take action is important if you are going to encourage other students to take action with you.
You might want to organise a talk as part of a course you are studying or, if you are at school, to a whole year group during an assembly. Email email@example.com for ideas of how to plan an exciting workshop including questions to discuss, activities to try and great films to show.
“So eye-opening” “Made me reconsider the world around me” Quotes from students who took part in a UK Feminista workshop
You can also ask UK Feminista to give a talk in your school or college to get your classmates thinking about why feminism is still relevant. Having a talk is a great way to get people talking about feminism and find out who else is interested in taking action in your school. Book your workshop by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Organise your first meeting As soon as possible, decide a date, time and location for your first meeting so that anyone interested knows exactly how to get involved.
Good promotion is the first step to having a good meeting. There are many ways to get the message out to your fellow students:
Make posters and stick them around your school or college. Make sure the posters display the details of your meeting in a clear and eye-catching way.
Give a shout out in a class or assembly. This is a quick summary of what the meeting is about, when and where it will be held, and most importantly, why people should come.
“The process was quite simple –I asked the religious studies department if I could use a room to hold the meetings and they welcomed us to use it. I put posters around the school inviting sixth formers to come, came armed with tea bags and biscuits and off we went.”
Saoirse, Fortismere School
Saoirse, Fortismere school Promote it in the school paper or newsletter, explaining the reasons why you are starting a group and why people should come.
Share the event online by creating a blog or Facebook group with information on what your feminist group is about and details of the first meeting, and invite people in your school to join.
Run a stall at a school fair or college fresher’s fair and speak to as many people as you can about why you are setting up a group, what you'll be doing, and how they can join.
Bringing about fundamental social change takes a bit of planning, and meetings are a crucial opportunity to do just that! Here are some issues to consider when planning and running your meetings:
What? Regular meetings are crucial for planning actions, events or campaigns in your school or college. You might also want to vary your meetings to keep them exciting, by showing a film or getting a speaker in to talk about a specific campaign.
When? Try to meet as regularly as possible but be realistic about what you can manage. Pick a regular day and time and then stick to it to avoid confusion amongst members about when you’re meeting
Where? Ask a teacher or tutor how you can book a room that you can use for each meeting. Using the same room regularly will help prevent confusion!
The first meeting
The first meeting of your group is your opportunity to inspire people to become active members and also lay the groundwork for how the group will be structured. It’s essential then to do some advance planning for it. Here are some things to plan in advance of the meeting:
Aims: Aims of the meeting may include getting people to join, deciding how the group will be structured and where/when you will meet, and getting to know each other.
Agenda: Put together an agenda (a list of items that will be covered in the meeting) to make sure you achieve your aims and don’t spend ages on one or two topics. If the meeting drags on or doesn’t get very much done this will be off-putting for newcomers
Tools & activities: Make sure the meeting is active and participative. For example, start off by everyone introducing themselves and how they became interested in feminism. You could also show a short film, invite an external speaker, and/or take a campaign action such as signing a petition postcard. Useful materials for facilitating group discussions and ideas include flip-chat paper & pens, and post-it notes.
Follow-up: be clear about the next steps following the meeting. Have a sign-up sheet to collect peoples’ email addresses and ensure someone has taken a note of key decisions and actions – so these can be circulated after the meeting.
Effective meetings are…
Open and accessible: actively welcome newcomers, and start meetings by everyone introducing themselves
Organised: Distribute minutes or action notes after the meeting so everyone is clear about what was agreed and those who were unable to make the meeting can stay up to date
Enjoyable: Meetings should be empowering and rewarding – with everyone coming away feeling they have achieved something and excited about the next meet-up or action. Try to make meetings as participative and energised as possible. For example, use ‘go rounds’ (each person in the group taking it in turn to share some information or a suggestion), group work, and brainstorming. Also, make sure you take time to celebrate your successes!
Working together as a group
Sharing out tasks How your group works together will be key to the success of your group. You might want to allocate roles within the group, which does not mean you are introducing hierarchy – in fact it can mean the complete opposite. Instead it means that people take responsibility for certain tasks in order to ensure that you can make progress. You might for example want to allocate:
A Meetings Organiser: someone who communicates with staff to ensure meeting rooms are booked.
A Communications Organiser: Someone who takes on responsibility for sending out emails to the group with details of the next meeting.
If people in the group don’t want to take on formal roles, you could simply decide to allocate tasks as and when they arrive. If you chose to do this, you might want to follow this process for delegating roles when you’re planning an event, action or campaign:
Brainstorm all the roles
Explain what each role involves – including how long each will take
Offer advice for people who haven’t done some of the listed roles before
Ensure tasks are spread fairly amongst the group so it is not always the same people who end up doing the most work
The facilitator If you don’t have formalised roles you will still need someone to chair or facilitate the meeting each week. This can be a ‘rolling’ position – so everyone takes it in turns.
As a facilitator you might:
Outline the agenda for the meeting. This may be set in advance via email, or you can plan it at the meeting by asking people what needs to be discussed.
Introducing agenda items one by one, keeping an eye on the time to ensure everything is discussed.
Facilitate discussion by ensuring everyone has a chance to give their opinion on any decisions they have to be made. Asking people to raise a finger if they have something to say, and asking people to speak in turn, is a good way of helping this process. It can help to prevent people from interrupting each other or dominating the conversation.
Support the group to make important decisions collectively. You may want to use “consensus decision making” processes if your group is making a big decision so everyone’s point of view is taken into account and the whole group feels ownership of the resulting decision. For a guide to using consensus decision making visit the seeds for change website: www.seedsforchange.org.uk.
Effective communications in-between meetings will help keep members informed and interested and will also be useful in coordinating meetings and actions. Ask your group what method of communication they would prefer- you might want to communicate through a Facebook group, or you might to set up an email list.
Keeping people coming back
Getting people to come along to the first meeting is one thing. Getting them to keep coming back is another thing altogether! For your group to be sustainable it must be vibrant, inclusive, and fun to be a part of!
Be welcoming: Ensure all your events and meetings are welcoming to newcomers. For example, start all meetings by introducing yourselves and how the meetings work, ensure existing group members actively mingle with newcomers, and avoid ‘in jokes’ or jargon during meetings. Offering snacks can also keep up morale!
Keep active: action is the lifeblood of your group. Make sure the group and its members regularly take action at your school or college.
Have fun! Try to make your meetings and campaign actions as creative and enjoyable as possible.
We have a group! Now what?
Now you have a group of people who are passionate about feminism, it’s time to take action! Here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. Raise Awareness
As school and college students you are perfectly placed to let your friends and other students know that gender inequality is still an issue, and that feminism is for them. Once other students know why feminism is relevant to them, they are much more likely to get involved in any campaigns you run to make changes in your school or college. And being able to show you have lots of support from other students is powerful when it comes to demanding change in your school, college, and beyond.
Students take part in the
Who Needs Feminism? campaign
Who Needs Feminism? campaign This is a fantastic and very simple campaign, which challenges the idea that sexism is a thing of the past and helps to reclaim the F-word on campus. Simply ask fellow students and teachers to write why they need feminism on a whiteboard/sheet of paper. Then take a photo and send them to email@example.com. We will upload them onto the Who Needs Feminism Facebook page for everyone to see.
For top tips on running a great Who Needs Feminism? Campaign visit www.ukfeminista.org.uk/whoneedsfeminism Poster campaign Posters are a great way of getting people thinking about an issue. You could make posters with facts showing the state of gender inequality today, or you could make posters with quotes from some of your favourite feminists, to challenge people's preconceptions of what feminism is. Whatever you do, make sure you include the name of your group and details of your next meeting so that people know where they can go to find out more.
Assemblies and film-showings Giving a talk or workshop on why feminism is still needed is a perfect way to get people talking. How about asking a teacher if you can give an assembly to students in younger years? UK Feminista can provide you with activities you can do and films you can show to make your talk as interesting as possible. You might even chose to show a series of thought-provoking films in an evening to create a more social, informal atmosphere and space for people to think about and discuss the issues.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for resources to help you give a great talk, organise a film-showing, or to ask UK Feminista to give a workshop at your school or college. 2. Change your school
Pass a Schools Safe 4 Girls policy You can have a huge impact in your school or college long after you leave by getting a policy adopted. The Schools Safe 4 Girls campaign is your chance to get your school or college to commit to tackling violence against girls, by adopting a policy that will demand that they take action to protect girls. To do this you will need to arrange a meeting with your head teacher or a member of senior management. For a guide on how to get a policy passed at your school visit www.ukfeminista.org.uk/take-action/generation-f 3
Camden School for Girls’ FemSoc campaign is featured
in their local paper before they win their campaign against
lads mags on display in Tesco . Change your community
Why stop with trying to tackle sexism in your school or college? Young people speaking out against sexism in the community can be incredibly powerful and force change. For example, members of Camden School For Girls feminist society ran a campaign against their local Tesco which was stocking degrading lads mags at eye level. Read more about this inspiring campaign at www.ukfeminista.org.uk/take-action/generation-f, and email email@example.com if you would like support in running a campaign like this in your local area.
4. Use every action to grow your group!
Whenever you take an action, make sure you let everyone who you engage know about your group:
Have information about your next group meeting available so that people who are inspired to get involved will know exactly what to do.
Take the email address of anyone who is interested in getting involved in your group so you can remind them about the details of your next meeting.
This way you will grow your group, meaning you can have even more influence at your school or college and wider community.