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Feminist Success Stories - Célébrons nos réussites féministes

Karen A. Blackford
Marie-Luce Garceau
Sandra Kirby

Conclusion. The Faces of Feminist Change

Les multiples visages du changement féministe

Karen A. Blackford, Marie-Luce Garceau et Sandra Kirby

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1In the preceding chapter, we have analyzed what constitutes success in making feminist change. Our analysis has shown that, although some authors emphasize certain themes more than others, each author’s work contributes in some way to our understanding of all the identified themes. In other words, there is a shared understanding of how feminism is defined across many Canadian constituencies. At the same time, the constituencies represented in this book vary by bodily condition/disability/ability, geographical location, class, race, age, and ethnicity. Thus, while there is a shared sense of what feminism is, it is not surprising to find that feminist change comes with many faces and many unique challenges.

2Feminist change clearly has a human face; this affects our ways of seeing, ways of acting, and ways of acknowledging the body. A philosophy of human rights is intertwined with one of reciprocal humane caring among ourselves and with others. To produce feminist change, care must be taken to ensure that all participants are enabled to fully and actively participate.

3These human and humane philosophies are enacted though feminist process. This process includes negotiation of everything from what changes are to be undertaken to who will undertake what responsibilities along the way. For effective change, the feminist process must include ways to improve the capacities of women and their sense of self-esteem, which, in turn, positions women to have more strength to deconstruct and analyze the events of their everyday lives and to reconstruct their social relations over time (Garceau, Coholic and Prévost).

4A second face of change is its economy. Innovation in economy is a key characteristic of feminist change. Women produced dramatic outcomes even in the absence of basic resources, and in spite of a financially strong patriarchal status quo. This financial frugality is balanced by the tremendous generosity of many women who contribute their valuable time and efforts, usually as volunteers, to make the world a better place.

5A third face of feminist change is its shared nature. Even though the outcomes may be uneven for various participants and/or partners (Christiansen-Ruffman et al.), there are major efforts being made to reach out to girls and women outside the immediate circle. This process involves mentoring women as activists (Briskin, Miedema and Nason-Clark, Kirby) and women researchers (Gagné, Hébert, Garceau, Christiansen-Ruffman et al.). These efforts result in ongoing re-creation of the ways in which activists work and re-making of the feminist research process (Gagné, Garceau).

6A fourth face of feminist change is the reality that it is informed. Information travels from expression of the experiences of a single woman to corporate analysis of the effect of a policy, from researchers’ reports on issues of concern to women to the writings of a local community group about an issue important to the group. Feminists see such information, based on measurable evidence, as vital to good decision-making and necessary to commitment to action. The authors have identified that further education is needed on the particular issues of the day, as well as sexism and its interrelation with women’s issues (Dumais, Epp, Kirby), bodily condition/disability/ability (Blackford), feminizing success stories (Blackford, Gagné, Garceau, Dumais and Kirby), culture and history (Hébert, Whitney), family (Blackford, Miedema and Nason-Clark) and community (Bouchard et Cholette), economy (Briskin), and research processes (Gagné, Christiansen-Ruffman et al.).

7Today, feminism in Canada reflects the influence of current and former women leaders. It is also characterized by its redefinition and reassertion of itself by women in all parts of the country. Feminizing, like all change, is a dynamic process energized by some and resisted by others. As this book exemplifies, feminizing is always in transition, and process is as important as outcome. This realization is itself feminist. Just as there is a need for this book at this time, we look forward knowing that, as the process of feminist change continues, there will soon be the need for another.

8L’implication de chacune des auteures dans le mouvement des femmes est une expérience précieuse dans l’émergence des savoirs sur les femmes. Chacune, explorant sa réalité, montre les conflits sociaux qui la traversent afin d’ouvrir et de poursuivre le débat-combat qui permettra en bout de ligne leur résolution. Féminiser est un processus dynamique, comme le montrent les exemples présentés dans ce livre. Et ce processus ne s’accomplit pas sans rencontrer sur sa route de multiples résistances des institutions en place. Nous espérons que ce livre contribuera, ne fut-ce que modestement, à la féminisation d’autres institutions. Si nous apprenons de nos réussites et de nos erreurs, le féminisme, qui est une pensée et une pratique en mouvement, continuera de puiser dans ses expériences la source de ses futurs pas.


© Les Presses de l’Université d’Ottawa | University of Ottawa Press, 1999

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