Last year in the run up to Perth’s second WOW Festival, I had the great pleasure of attending the WOW weekly meet-ups at Perth Theatre.
From talks by from local women doing amazing things – think computer programming to creating a festival of yarn – to the personal tales of women sharing the adversities they’d come up against, and saying what is often left unsaid, there was conversation, laughter, and even a few tears.
Now, this group have banded together under the name ‘Perth Women’s Collective’ and are hosting monthly meet-ups at Perth Theatre, on the first Tuesday of each month.
I sat down to have a chat with Becca to find out more about the Collective, what kind of things they do, and how women in Perth can get involved!
How did Perth Women’s Collective start?
After the first year of the WOW Festival, people were really excited and feeling very motivated. Following WOW, we were asking: now what? We’ve had this festival and it was amazing - but where do we go with our enthusiasm? That’s what inspired the Perth Women’s Collective to begin. We started the monthly meet ups in the run up to the second festival: the idea behind this was having something carry on after the festival. We’ve only just started in November last year so it’s still early days.
What do you hope to achieve through PWC?
The idea is just to create a space to carry on the conversations around gender equality, empower women, and bring like-minded people together and see what happens. The idea is just to create a space to carry on the conversations around gender equality, empower women, and bring like-minded people together and see what happens. If people do want to do something or be activists and make change, then they can find someone to do that with here. But if you just want to listen and share your experiences that’s fine too. Essentially, if you’re a woman and you are looking for supportive relationships, just come along - it’s a place to meet people.
It can definitely be harder to make friends as an adult, so it is really great that there is something like the Perth Women’s Collective to give women spaces to meet and connect.
Quite a few people at PWC have moved to Perth relatively recently, but we have others who have been here a long time. It’s a real blend!
A lot of people, especially when they first move, find it difficult. Even if you’ve been here for five or six years, you can feel like you haven’t really met a lot of people.
I’m a new-ish mum, and I’ve met a lot of people through doing parenting things, but I think it’s easy at that point as well to get sort of narrowed in to being a mum all the time. There’s quite a few other young mum’s with children at PWC.
It’s good to both step away from that and into wider conversations, but also when you are raising a child you want to feel like you are raising them to be a respectful and empowered person so we speak about things like that too. We have a real mix of members; it’s all different ages, a mix of young mums and not mums, and people working and not working, all different backgrounds.
I saw you did a story café recently, inspired by Glasgow Women’s Library. Tell me more about that – what’s the whole idea behind Story Cafes?
Yes, we got the idea from Glasgow Women’s Library, who ran two at the WOW festival. Story Cafés have themes, and people bring extracts from novels, poems, and songs, and different things around that theme to read out and share. And then there’s a discussion with everyone about what was read out.
We ran our own this February with a Valentine’s theme. Which kind of we interpreted to mean self-care, being strong for yourself, and loving yourself. Really evaluating your relationship with yourself. Most people brought something with them to share. We read them out and talked about what they were saying and how important those messages were. It was really lovely, actually.
That sounds like a really great idea. What other kinds of things do you do at the Collective’s monthly meet-ups?
We try to do something different every month. The first month, we were really just getting to know each other. The second, we did a reflection on the headlines for the year as it was December.
Having spaces like Perth Women’s Collective makes you feel connected to what’s happening elsewhere.We looked at all the sort of stuff that had been in the news from 2018 to do with gender equality and women’s rights, and had a discussion around that which was really interesting. Again, inspired by Glasgow Women’s Library! We’ve had 10 to 20 people each month and it’s been great - we’ve had some brilliant discussions. In March we have some speakers lined up too which should be really exciting.
Oooh, tell me more about the kind of speakers you’ve got lined up.
Next up we’ve got Kirsty Lunn, creator of body positive underwear brand MOLKE. Peggy Brunache from the Southern Fried Festival (and lots of things!) – will be coming down to lead a discussion on the power of food, how women can help shape culture through food, and how the traditional gender role of women in the kitchen has led to the power that women have over food. It sounds really good. She’s going to talk about Creole culture and food, then open it up to wider discussions.
We’ve got lots of different nationalities in the group, Scottish obviously; I’m American, Syrian, Nepalese: we’re all over the place. It’s really great to be able to learn and share parts of our cultures with each other.
Do you feel like things are moving forward for women in Perth? With groups such as yourselves, the 16 Days of Activism Against Violence against Women, WOW….do you see yourselves as part of creating this wave of change?
There’s a lot of really good stuff happening in Perth, and there has been for a while. It’s not as obvious as it might be in bigger cities though! I was speaking to the ladies who run the programme for International Women’s Day in Perth, and they said they had been doing it for 25 years. But particularly in the last year, there has been a lot in the news - people generally are more aware of certain things.
So it’s just about creating those spaces and having these events happening in Perth. Having spaces like Perth Women’s Collective makes you feel connected to what’s happening elsewhere.
It’s really exciting to see a group like Perth Women’s Collective giving space for all women and non-binary people to meet up, exchange ideas, and have a fun time doing so. As for what’s next for the Collective?
“We’re carrying on with our monthly meetings, we have creative workshops coming up, and we’re hoping to carry on the conversation about gender equality through creative expression.”
Perth Women’s Collective runs on the first Tuesday of every month from 6:30pm to 8pm at Perth Theatre. Everyone is welcome at anytime – you don’t need to know anyone else before you go, you can just drop in and meet new people! Keep up to date with the latest events on Perth Women’s Collective’s Facebook group.
PWC logo by the talented Louise McLaren - read more here >>>
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