Volume 91, Issue 71

Wednesday, February 4, 1998

sock it


Development error

Re: Oxfam conference

To the Editor:
On Jan. 17-18, Oxfam Student Association and the UWO chapter of World University Services Canada organized and presented a conference on Women and Development. In attendance were many accomplished men and women from various academic and professional fields. Both our speakers and participants represented many different international and local development organizations.

We approached The Gazette in the hopes that some small mention of the conference would be made for the benefit of those here at Western that might have been interested in coming. I was interviewed briefly and was quoted and misquoted in the snippet that was presented. This was not a conference on, "the development of women," but rather, it was addressing many of the issues that affect women in development. While this may seem a subtle difference, in fact the misquote renders askew both the topic and our intent.

My main contention with the snippet was the headline, Girl Power, under which it was printed. The use of this Spice Girl-coined phrase was disdainful and insulting. This conference was by no means exclusive to women. We had both male speakers and participants and certainly our clubs are not "girl clubs." What is most infuriating is the fact that this off-hand, glib title is so disrespectful of the issues of poverty, health security, community economic development, economic and trade policy, monetary reform, violence, rural development and globalization upon which this conference was based. To our embarrassment, one of the speakers actually mentioned and criticized the use of the term, "girl power" in the course of her presentation.

I also would like to make note of one other concern that is quite personal. Based on superficial qualities of skin colour and hair texture and length, I have unfortunately been told repeatedly that I look like Scary Spice. Tell me that the use of the term "girl power" was simply a matter of bad taste and had nothing to do with my appearance. If indeed this was your idea of a joke at my expense, then rest assured I am sufficiently hurt and insulted by the correlation.

Cecily Nicholson
VP Student Affairs
Oxfam Students Association

To Contact The Opinions Department: gazoped@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998