What better way to start a new century than to attend the Feminist Expo 2000 (March 31-April 2 in Baltimore). From Afghanistan’s Taliban to the U.S.’s religious right, there were plenty of challenges for the 7,000 attendees to confront and even more causes to champion.
The Feminist Majority Foundation, organizers of the Expo, sought to gather a diverse band of feminists. Participants came from 45 countries and hundreds of organizations—from Central American women’s artisan groups to local abortion rights coalitions. The presence of more than 2,000 college students upped the energy.
In addition to general sessions exploring the current state of feminism, winning women’s economic empowerment and political equality, and envisioning the future, there were more than 200 exhibition booths and 106 symposia, roundtables, and training sessions. You could talk funding strategies for women’s initiatives, learn about “Global Perspectives on Fighting Poverty” and “The True Costs of Free Trade,” discuss the “Grrl Thing” with teen activists, or take part in training sessions geared to campus activism. There were indigenous women’s crafts, book signings by a slew of famous and lesser known writers, a career center, and a surprising number of law enforcement officers looking to bring more women in to their ranks.
From letter-writing campaigns to forming global alliances, the mission was to get women together and work for change. The thrust of the gathering seemed to be by-the-book activism, empowering women to work within the system—not every femme’s shtick. But for others the Expo was a great place to jump-start their activism.