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October 30, 2003

Smith Discussion to Look at Gender-Based Censorship in Democracies

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. -- Even in democratic societies, voices of feminist, activist women -- especially writers -- are often muted or marginalized.

How one comes to resist such silencing, in its various forms, will be examined during a panel discussion at Smith College titled "Spoken Not Heard: Democracy, Feminism and the Challenge of Gender-Based Censorship," which will take place at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 5, in Neilson Library Browsing Room. The event is free, open to the public and wheelchair accessible.

The speakers for this event will be Gertrude Fester, a commissioner on the Commission for Gender Equality in South Africa; Patricia McFadden a Smith College research affiliate active in the Zimbabwean women's movement; and Meredith Tax, founding director of Women's WORLD, a global network of women writers founded to defend women writers against censorship.

"Domestic and foreign policy-makers who impact such issues as war, sexual practices and reproductive health often suppress the very feminist writers and activists who are most knowledgable about them," notes Paula Giddings, professor of Afro-American studies, who will be moderating the discussion.

"The panelists," Giddings continues,"... all writer/activists, have not only written about and worked directly with such issues, but are analytical of notions, such as nationalism, which provide both a means to insert a politically conscious agenda and the rationale to suppress feminist expression."

Fester will talk about her efforts and those of women of the African National Congress to ensure their participation in the reconstruction of civil society in post-apartheid South Africa.

McFadden will discuss the contested relationship between citizenship privileges and gender in post-colonial Zimbabwe.

Tax, a writer and longtime feminist activist, will share her observations of gender-based censorship among women writers from Asia, Europe, Africa, Latin America and the U.S. seeking the assistance of Women's WORLD.

For more information, call Rene Heavlow at (413) 585-4292.


Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Marti Hobbes
News Assistant
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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