It’s all a bit overwhelming, isn’t it? Inequality is rising, and services are being cut to those who most need them. Our eco-system is teetering on the edge, and oil companies are controlling the climate agenda. Multinationals are booming off the labour of the poorest, racism is rife, and it is still necessary to tell people that feminists aren’t trying to subjugate men and take over the world. Who'd blame you for hiding under the covers waiting for it all to go away?
But the ripples of dissent are very much there. All over the world people are standing up and and being heard. Dedicated to amplifying the voice of women, No Longer Powerless is an intersectional feminist project which tells the stories of women fighting back. The title, inspired by anti-racism campaigner Tisha - who says activism means she ‘no longer feels powerless when reading the news’ - echoes the feelings of many who feel stronger for fighting back. This reflects both the disenchantment and helplessness many of us feel when confronted with the constant tirade of horrible global issue. But it also highlights the potential to overcome that, by standing up for what we believe in.
Coming from a Sustainable Design background, I have found myself increasingly frustrated with the common separation of social, economic, human and environmental issues, because they are so clearly inter-related and constantly affecting each other. As such, central to the project is that although the women are fighting different causes, the issues are all related; to describe this I have coined the phrase Intersectional Sustainability. All of the women I interviewed believe in the connection between the issues they are fighting for. They are not the 'leaders' or the 'faces' of campaigns, but normal people doing what they can to make the world a better place. They are from different places and have different stories to tell.
It was also fundamental that they were not just the stories of straight, white, able-bodied, cis-gendered women. Both feminism and sustainability must be intersectional.
By illustrating their stories and turning them into little moments of inspiration, vulnerability and discovery, I hope to show them in a different, engaging, and attractive light. It is said that storytelling is a powerful force within politics, and that if we see ourself in a story we are more likely to engage, and I wanted to tap into this. By telling personal stories, I hope to curate a connection between the audience and the activist - and foster a new intimate insight into, - and understanding of - why women take action.
This project does not aim to teach people how to be an activist, or even tell them to take part in a specific campaign. Instead, by showing grassroots campaigns as unscary, and by showing people that ‘activists’ are ‘just like them’, it may offer a seed of inspiration for that they too can get involved. But more than that, in the face of the overwhelming, disempowering news reports, it depicts people who often feel empowered, because they believe that they can do something to make a difference. And in the face of the overwhelming, disempowering news reports, that is not something to be sniffed at.