There are still some left-over pieces of lively pink posters on the stands and buildings in Vilnius old town. They are the remnants of ads glued (illegally) around the city center in May to announce the beginning of the first Ladyfest in Lithuania.
A fresh non-governmental organization „New Generation of Women‘s Initiatives“ (ngoWI) announced its existence on May 13 and started its work by introducing a women‘s political, musical and arts event called „Gender Positive. Introduction to Ladyfest“. The event in Vilnius was inspired by the famous women‘s festival „Ladyfest“, which originated in the USA six years ago and later inspired the female part of Europe.
Shake the patriarchal roots of macho post-soviet society
How was the idea of a Ladyfest accepted in Lithuania, where the word feminist is still associated with either aggressive political figures or lesbians who „fail to find a proper husband”? Julija Lozovskaja, one of the founders of „ngoWI“, assures that there was much less criticism and negative opinions than the organizers had expected. „We received much supportive feedback, suggestions and help“, Lozovskaja says. The main aim of the event was to create an opportunity for a wider public to see why and in what ways feminism is necessary and useful for women and society.
From rubber-boots to “Louis Vuitton”, from trolleybus to “Jaguar” – an introductory course on feminisms is compulsory for all of us: It’s high time to shake the patriarchal roots of macho post-soviet society and at least once a year dive into an extremely delightful celebration among a crowd of women. Besides partying we also have to come to realize more urgently women’s social situation, gender inequality, and the mechanisms of discrimination affecting our everyday lives. The power of the community can help us to think and recognize where we are and what path we want to take in the future.
We first learn how to swim and then we will dive
Though some organizational difficulties could not be avoided, the organizers‘ efforts were impressive and appreciated. Guest speakers from American and European universities held presentations in an accompanying series of seminars. During the festival breathtaking women‘s bands from Poland and France made even the coolest visitors jump up from their chairs and shout „More!“
Having introduced the idea of Ladyfest to the Lithuanian feminist and non-feminist public the organizers aspire for a much more colourful and larger event next year. “We first learn how to swim and then we will dive into the deep waters. We want to create confidence in ourselves, in our abilities, instead of crashing spontaneously onto sharp rocks” – Julija gracefully ends her thought on the first Ladyfest. See you next year in Vilnius, LADIES!
Translated by Rasa Erentaitė
Picture: Božena Miežonis
Official website of Ladyfest Vilnius: www.hardcore.lt/ladyfest
For contacts: ladyfest_vilnius(at)yahoo.com
At the moment participants (music, video, photo, workshops, presentations) and assistance in fundraising is sought for Ladyfest Vilnius 2007 – any ideas and contributions are highly appreciated!