“I’m really bad at these things,” whispers anti-war campaigner Maya Evans.
She’s on stage with climate activist Tamsin Osmond at Housmans bookshop in King’s Cross in the moments before their talk on Women and Activism. Both speakers admit they are daunted at the huge scope of the event’s subject, billed as “a chance to discuss the roles played by women in contemporary peace and green movements”.
Although they are both young, on paper you couldn’t get two more diverse speakers: Osmond is a privately educated Oxbridge graduate turned environmentalist, now running as a parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn. Evans, meanwhile, is a Hackney-born anti-war campaigner and part-time vegan chef, who holds the dubious honour of being the first person convicted under the 2005 Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (for being outside the Houses of Parliament and reading the names of British soldiers killed in the War on Terror).
But despite the gulf between the speakers’ backgrounds and pet political issues, key themes emerge when they share their thoughts on Women and Activism. Evans and Osmond’s talk becomes more about their individual activism, and their observations on how their gender and class have influenced it. There’s anger, frustration and the urgent need to get more diverse people involved in the political system.
A member of the crowd, in the discussion afterwards sums it up neatly: “There’s something lacking in political protest for women. It’s like all the events are planned around a male schedule. But that’s not how the world works, and that’s not what works for us.”
Osmond nods her head, saying in clipped tones: “We’ve tried patriarchy, and it hasn’t worked. It’s time for something new.”
Women and Activism was part of the organised events for International Women’s Day at Housman’s bookshop on Caledonian Road, King’s Cross.