ACCORDING to Melbourne author Sophie Cunningham (pictured below), feminism is just as relevant today as it was 100 years ago. On August 2, Sophie will be delivering a public lecture entitled 'We Won't Be Silenced: Feminism and Social Justice' for the 2012 Dr Tania Lienert Memorial Lecture for Social Justice and Diversity.
Sophie is the Australia Council's new chairwoman of the Literature Board and has spent years working in the publishing industry. She was instrumental in founding the Stella Prize, an award that celebrates and recognises excellence in Australian women's writing and believes that we have a great need to encourage a future generation of women writers and significantly increase the readership for books by women.
"There's a perception that that most of the key shifts have been made with regard to women's equality and feminism is not as relevant as it used to be. But if we aren't careful, things will slip backwards," Sophie said. "Women win about 25% of literary awards. Since Anna Funder won the Miles Franklin award this year I've been asked several times if we need the Stella Award anymore. Anna is only the 10th woman to win the award since 1957.
"In the field of arts alone, most of the senior positions are held by men and 68% of men who work in the industry earn more than $100,000 as opposed to 38% of the women. People are often quite shocked when they find this out, thinking women's representation is equal; we need to keep having the conversation about this every year. Recently, the movie Brave made by Pixar is the first animated film to have a female lead and the producers had a lot of anxiety about marketing it. Even Sesame Street ran for 30 years before they created a main female puppet."
The annual lecture was established in 2011 in honour of Dr Tania Lienert, a local feminist and social justice campaigner who died tragically in a car accident in 2010. Deb Parish, Tania's partner and member of the lecture organising committee, believes Sophie is a perfect fit to deliver the lecture which aims to keep alive the values which guided Tania's life and work.
Everyone is welcome to attend the lecture which will take place in Southern Cross University's Whitebrook Lecture Theatre, Room Y204 at 6pm and drinks will be served in the foyer from 5.30pm.