Icelandic writer Thordis Elva will be joined on stage by Tom Stranger, the co-author of a forthcoming book which chronicles their communication about how he raped her as a teenager
Credit: All About Women

A Pulitzer-prize winning journalist speaking on the story of China’s one-child policy, the Mission Commander of NASA’s year-long Mars simulation and Academy Award-winning actor and gender equality advocate Geena Davis are three drawcard attractions of the All About Women 2017 lineup, announced today by the Sydney Opera House.

The fifth-annual symposium on exploring issues of great import to women will take place March 5 next year, and will encompass some 22 events including solo talks and panel discussions to performances of theatre, music and comedy. Headlining the event, which takes place three days prior to International Women’s Day is Davis, who will appear in her capacity as founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Davis will speak on gender diversity and stereotyping in screen media, specifically regarding the ‘if she can see it, she can be it’ campaign which advocates for increased visibility for women in prominent screen roles.

Author of One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment, Mei Fong, will discuss the ramifications of that policy not only on China but the world; Carmel Johnston, Mission Commander of NASA’s life-on-Mars simulation will appear in a discussion drawing on her singular experience; and German microbiologist Giulia Enders will also speak at length on the important relationship between the brain and the gut, as chronicled in her debut novel Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Under-Rated Organ.

Seattle-based writer and fat acceptance activist Lindy West will appear in conversation to discuss her memoir Shrill; Janine di Giovanni, the Middle East Editor for Newsweek and Ochberg Fellow at Columbia University, will explore the human cost of the war in Syria; and founder and editor of online literary magazines Bookslut and Spolia, Jessa Crispin, promises to issue a call to arms to revolutionise contemporary modes of feminism.

Clockwise from top: Microbiologist Giulia Enders; Seattle-based writer and fat acceptance activist Lindy Wes; and co-founder of Touretteshero, Jess Thom
Credit: Supplied courtesy of All About Women

Another feature on the international program is award-winning journalist Thordis Elva, who will appear on stage opposite Tom Stranger, the co-author of a forthcoming book titled South of Forgiveness. The two will appear in conversation to discuss Elva’s experience as a survivor of sexual violence perpetrated by Stranger when the two were a teenage couple. After nine years of silence, Elva wrote to Stranger – an Australian who was visiting Iceland on student exchange – and the two entered into eight years worth of correspondence, which then forms the basis of their book, which they hope will address both ends of the spectrum of the sexual violence epidemic and is slated for release in March 2017.

The festival will also feature a strong local contingent, with the return of Women of Letters, insights from writers Clementine Ford, Julia Baird, Van Badham and Youth Without Borders founder Yassmin Abdel-Magied. Josephine Cashman and Marcia Langton will also make a public call for the end of violence against Indigenous women in Australian communities. 

Comedians Zoë Coombs Marr and Zoë Norton Lodge will also bring a sense of levity to the event through their respective shows, as will British performer Jess Thom, whose performance of Backstage in Biscuit Land explores a life lived with Tourette’s Syndrome through comedy, puppetry and singing. 

Multipack tickets for the event go on sale this coming Friday December 9. Single tickets will go on sale from Wednesday December 14. 

All About Women takes place at the Sydney Opera House on Sunday March 5, 2017. You can find out more information here.

Tile image: Courtesy of All About Women
Cover image: Jack Atley