Women, Power and Resistance: Exploring women’s experiences and relationship to institutions of power

Interdisciplinary Research Forum and Global Diversities and Inequalities (GDI) Research Centre organised a Symposium: Women, Power and Resistance: Exploring Women's Experiences and Relationship to Institutions of Power. It took place on Thursday, 11 January, in a hybrid format.

This symposium explored women's lived experience of and relationship to power structures - from institutions of political representation to institutions and forms of safeguarding against violence and oppression to forms of cultural and artistic expression and resistance at the community level. Featuring analysis from multiple disciplinary perspectives (sociology, politics, arts and community power), this symposium investigated how the concepts of power and resistance play out for women in different contexts, such as community mobilisation in urban regeneration, in shaping experiences of migration and political oppression, in overcoming obstacles to acceding to political office etc.

Drawing on rich data from their research projects with Afghan women in London, Prof. Louise Ryan, Prof. María López and Mursal Rasa presented the specificities of spatial contexts and infrastructures in framing opportunities and obstacles to transnational care in 'immobility regimes'. They explored how Afghan women navigate these regimes across multiple countries. They considered the role of ICTs, the limits of poor connectivity, and the gendered power dynamics that can limit women's access to new technologies.

Elsa González Simón reflected on her doctoral research on women's activist experiences in Spain and the UK, paying particular attention to how hermeneutics and phenomenology can be fundamental in socio-political research. She focused her presentation on her interest in women's participation in social movements and the academic and practical forms of micro-exclusion of women from political activism.

Binky Taylor is a partner in the Brixton Project, a participatory place-making organisation that seeks to build resilience and ownership at the heart of the community. She talked about using the public realm as a creative canvas to express identity, spirit, culture and heritage in ways that are relevant and authentic to people in the places where they live, work and play.

Prof. Diana Stirbu presented findings from a project investigating the lived experience of aspirants to political office in Wales. The presentation focussed on women's narratives and experiences of seeking selection and nomination to stand in elections (at local, national and regional levels of representation). Women view the institutions of power (i.e., political parties, local councils, the Welsh parliament) as the medium through which they can achieve social change and seek belonging in pursuit of making a difference. However, along the way, they face numerous barriers, some imposed by the very structures of power to which they want to belong.

Prof. Svetlana Stephenson, the co-convener of the Interdisciplinary Research Forum, chaired the event.

Attendees listening to the lecture during the "Women and Power" Symposium

Image: Attendees listening to the lecture during the "Women and Power" Symposium.