Creating space for women-only places

Miles, Debra (2012) Creating space for women-only places. In: Gender Work and Organisation Biennial Interdisciplinary Conference, p. 220. From: Gender Work and Organisation Conference: 7th International Interdisciplinary Conference, 27-29 June 2012, Keele University, Keele, UK.

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Abstract

For over forty years feminist women in Australia and other parts of the world have come together in women-only social service organisations to support, empower and advocate for women who are disadvantaged and oppressed by partners, families, other mainstream organisations and wider social structures. Women working in such organisations have attempted to model alternative ways of structuring and managing; and of providing social welfare services. They have pursued these alternative goals by exploring different ways of working with each other and with women who use the services. However the gains made for and by women in past decades are fragile and forever in danger of erosion. In the last 15 years many of the unique features and much of the robust vitality of the Australian women's movement have been abolished. The consequences and impact of gender neutral policy development on funding levels and socio-political support for organisations providing women-only services is significant.

In this context the significance of women-only spaces as places where women's health and well being can be holistically addressed is challenged devalued and dismissed. This paper argues that women-only spaces provide supported opportunities for women to escape cycles of poverty and disadvantage while simultaneously fostering empowerment and activism. The paper draws on the experiences of an Australian organisation (The Women's Centre) which operates in a sociopolitical climate where bureaucrats are hesitant to name a specific commitment to women in case this is interpreted as a lack of commitment to men. An exploration of tensions and contradictions experienced by The Women's Centre within this increasingly hostile political, social and economic climate will contribute to the discussion surrounding the future use and value of women-only spaces.

Item ID: 23293
Item Type: Conference Item (Abstract / Summary)
ISSN: 1468-0432
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Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2013 01:32
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1607 Social Work > 160799 Social Work not elsewhere classified @ 50%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1699 Other Studies in Human Society > 169901 Gender Specific Studies @ 50%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9401 Community Service (excl. Work) > 940117 Structure, Delivery and Financing of Community Services @ 100%
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