Students & Campus
25 November 2021

The Feminist Collective: Advocating for Gender Equality

November 25 marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. A student-run initiative, the Feminist Collective, is launching a 16-day poster campaign to raise awareness about this cause. In an interview, they discuss their campaign and also their objectives in furthering gender equality.

The Feminist Collective is a Graduate Institute Student Association (GISA) Initiative. Could you explain the role of the Collective?

The Feminist Collective is the feminist voice at the Institute. The initiative aims to raise awareness about gender equality and critique global affairs through an intersectional feminist lens. Hence, we are a group of people who are fighting for gender justice starting from our own little community. Our main goal is to provide a safe and caring environment in which diverse voices are heard and appreciated.

We focus on creating spaces where students at the Graduate Institute can critically engage with the discourse around gender equality and equity. In sum, our initiative is about making visible the stories and lives that are often forgotten, ignored or silenced by a widespread western-cis-heterosexist normativity.

What are some of the themes that the Feminist Collective works on?

Currently, we are advocating for the provision of free menstrual products at the university, as we believe this will significantly contribute to the student community’s welfare and will allow the Institute to be aligned with other universities.

Moreover, to foster safe spaces at the Institute, free from gender-based violence, we have a zero-tolerance harassment policy and are working with Antenne-H to build the caring community we aim for.

Furthermore, we have advocated for and supported Consent Workshops in order to bring awareness to the practice and importance of consent in building a safe and inclusive community at the Institute. The goal is also to inform individuals as they venture outside the Institute.

In addition, this year, we have embraced the two themes of “bodies'' and “inclusion” and will use them as a basis for our events focused on intersectionality, gender-based violence and female pleasure, among others. One of our other goals is to reach out to men and engage them more in the discourse, as they play a role in the power dynamics.

November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Do you have any events/activities planned to mark the occasion?

Our first action was to distribute a physical survey at the university in order to engage with the topic of sexual violence, with questions reflecting some often-normalised situations of violence. More than half of the distributed papers were answered and returned, and we are happy with this participation rate.

On the 25th we will launch our second action: a 16-day poster campaign at the Institute. Personal stories of aggression that were collected through an anonymous form will be printed to create a storytelling wall, alongside official statistics on gender-based violence from different organisations working on the subject.

Additionally, we are taking part in the Swiss-wide activities around “16 days against violence against women” through an interactive event on gender-based violence on 10 December in collaboration with the Human Rights, Conflict & Peace Initiative and Amnesty International.

Finally, we will communicate in an unofficial manner the results from our poll, through our Instagram account

The photo used was provided by UN Women as part of their "Orange the world" 16-days of activism campaign.