The FiLiA 2023 Conference Glasgow – A Personal Reflection

With no Forth Valley Feminist stall at FiLiA this year (we decided to focus our energy on organising our annual event to be held in Falkirk in Feb 2024), our members were free to enjoy the conference as ordinary delegates and we certainly made the most of it!

It would be easy to use this entire blog to talk about the surprise appearance of JK Rowling on Sunday morning. She was, as you would expect, awesome. I do not use this word lightly having enjoyed sessions involving Joanna Cherry, Johann Lamont, Julie Bindel, Jo Phoenix, Susan Smith, Alison Weir, Lucy Hunter Blackburn, Rhona Hotchkiss and so many more.

But FiLiA 2023, for me, was more than just the big names, however wonderful and inspirational they truly are. The venue was somewhat of a surprise. A conference involving c.1,500 delegates made me think EICC or SECC. The underground, intimate space of The Arches however was perfect for hosting a grassroots movement where raw emotion, discussion and moments of pure joy were to be expected. I made connections with women from across the globe. I shared my personal experiences of growing up and my role as a mother of a teenage girl. I learned the importance of having regular 1-2-1 time with her (our Mother-Daughter Date Diary is ready to fill). I acted as interpreter for the lady from Brighton who could not quite follow a West of Scotland accent. I was a Wise Woman and practised getting myself out of a wrist lock. I spent time at the Beira’s Place stall and came away with a tote bag, pen, stress ball and chocolate as well as a sense of wonderment at the hope they provide. I spent £7 on a surprisingly OK tuna and cucumber sandwich and a Diet Coke. I acquired 2 new notebooks (my darling daughter has relieved me of one already). I heard about witches in Zimbabwe and the utterly abhorrent cleansing rituals involving the rape of drugged women and girls. I roared with laughter thanks to Elaine Miller whose previous advice also meant I didn’t wee myself at the same time! I cried (multiple times). I came away knackered but energised. I have a bagful of leaflets and a thirst to learn more. I felt ignorant on many matters but strangely well-informed on others. My new favourite put down is ‘it’s like talking to a plant pot’.

Will I do it again? I’d like to think things will be very different in October 2025. We are likely to have a new political party in power in Westminster and maybe even Edinburgh. But I suspect there will still be a need to create safe spaces for women to come together and discuss the issues that impact us as a result of our sex. So, sisters, bring on the road trip but there better be cake!

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