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Opinion

WOMEN TO THE FRONT

Julia Weller

Women’s Fest Freo 2019

UN Women makes this statement about their work. “When you empower a woman, whole communities benefit. When women earn an income and have a seat at decision-making tables, they create more peaceful societies and more productive economies. UN Women leads the largest movement to accelerate gender equality and women’s empowerment and delivers programs and transforms policy to improve the lives of women and girls in nearly 100 countries around the world.”

 Julia Weller is the mastermind behind Women’s Fest Freo 2019, a celebration of International Women’s Day with some of WA’s finest female-led acts.

An epic event, to be held across two stages at Clancy’s Fish Pub Fremantle on the 9th of March, to Julia this is more than ‘just a gig’.

Around the Sound asked her to dig a little deeper into what drives her to bring women together in music.

“So Julia, what inspired you to jump off the couch and rattle this cage?”

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“Being a woman myself, dealing with 21st century gender equality issues in western society is challenging, but at the same time realising how privileged we are compared to other countries worldwide was enough to make me get off Netflix and try to do something for those who really need some support.

“I’m inspired by how much things are moving forward in my community, and that definitely helped me find the confidence to do something myself. I couldn’t stop thoughts popping into my head about the horrible things happening to women worldwide. I felt pretty overwhelmed by the size of this issue, but I didn’t know where to even start to make a change.”

Julia had learned about UN Women but didn’t feel like making a monthly donation was really enough. So instead of donating her change – she decided to reach out to the amazing community of female musicians and supporters around her and make a big noise, to help raise awareness for gender equality and big dollars for the organisation.

“UN women is an amazing organisation that deals with all sorts of issues worldwide, which is so important to me.

“I find it insane 2.5 million people worldwide fall victim of human trafficking, that FGM (female genital mutilation) is still happening in so many countries, including Australia, that we are still a big fight away from reaching freedom of speech and choice for women. That was a big part of why I needed to do something now, realising that awareness and financial aid are so necessary to stop this madness.

“But beyond dealing with issues of violence against women worldwide, UN Women also has projects for education, economic empowerment, women in politics, urgent request support like Syrian refugees and Nepal earthquake relief, protection from violence and cash for work programs to protect from early or forced marriage and exploitation. UN Women are about making a difference for women around the world.”

So clearly Julia has chosen a more than worthy women’s charity to donate proceeds from Freo Women’s Fest to. So we asked her, “So out of all the amazing female artists in Perth, how on earth did you choose your incredible line-up? It looks like it’s going to be epic!”

“That’s so true, there are so many amazing female identifying performers in WA! We’re so lucky to have ended up with this amazing line up, and the vast majority are playing for the cause so I have to give all these artists a massive shout out.

“Of course, as an artist myself – my starting point was my favourite local bands. I’m also lucky to be part of the music industry in Fremantle so I’ve had some amazing people help me out a lot.

“I started chatting with a whole bunch of Fem-lead bands and this is the outcome, we literally just couldn’t fit anymore acts on the line up. Such generosity and support are our women artists have shown for the cause! A couple of amazing local acts that would have loved to be involved are touring at the moment, but my hope is to do this all over again for International Women’s day 2020 and get them involved then!”

I wanted to check in with Julia on what was so special about Women’s Fest Freo, so I asked her, “What’s the magic in this event?”

“Well, for starters, check this line-up! Incredible rock ‘n’ roll goddess Abbe May will be headlining the show along with sets from Frank’s Fish Tank, Hyclass, HUSSY, Moana, Nika Mo, Pool Boy, The Psychotic Reactions, Tashii and DJ ChipSlut – that’s some serious Queens of Perth music right there.

“In addition to the amazing acts on the night we will have a second hand clothes market by Boutique GaRaj and some donated items to raffle to raise additional funds.

“Little Wooden Booth Co. have donated their time to take Polaroids of all the gorgeous people for a donation in their photo booth.

“And of course the awesome Clancy’s Fish Pub and Feral Brewing are sponsoring the event.

“We’re encouraging everyone who comes along to support to be as expressive and extravagant as they wish. The magic is in the community and music brings us together. Where people stand together for equality, that’s where we really start to make an impact. Everyone will be looking out for each other in a safe space and hopefully we’ll all end up a couple of friends richer.”

Julia’s reference to safe spaces for women put me in a mind to check in with her on how she feels the industry is going with regards to making sure women can step out in our local live music venues without fear.  So I asked her how she felt about Around the Sound’s recent article on this.

“Well, fantastic article, would’ve taken some balls (pun intended) to publish.

“I think it’s really interesting to look at how things are changing around us, from feminist groups like the suffragettes a hundred years ago, to the women’s rights movements of the 60’s and now going through a similar political cycle worldwide with the #metoo movement.

“I’m hoping we continue to make positive change in gender equality. I truly believe when women stand together and decide they’ve had enough of surviving the status quo, things change. I know I for one have this urge to make a change right now and I know many other people who feel the same way. I think there are no bad ideas, no initiative too small, and always wonderful people willing to support.

“Articles like this one are maybe painful to some, may shake up people’s routines, it might cause some discomfort, but totally necessary to shine a light on things that are not OK. Never should anyone feel in actual danger whilst trying to go out for a good night. I think it’s great to start at the top and tear some old views down. The thing left for us to do is to include and educate with grace. The power of community never fails to surprise me, to be honest I didn’t think I could pull this festival off, but the amazing women AND men around me have shown me nothing but support, which is empowering in itself.”

Lastly, I asked Julia to give Around the Sound readers a little taste of the next chapter in her life.

“Well, lots of things are happening. We’re about to set off on an East and West coast tour with Dan Howls, the band.

“I just bought my dream car and I’ll be bringing my little market stall to supply the regional areas of Australia with colourful fabrics from around the world and then back in Freo for another summer of music, work and fun.

“Definitely hoping to make Women’s Fest an annual thing, so I’m inviting anyone to reach out if you want to be a part of it!”

Event info and socials
@Womensfestfreo

Women’s Fest Freo 2019
9 March 2019
6:00pm – 10:30pm
Tickets available from Oztix.

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