Extras

Extras
KTUH DJ MICHELLE LABELLE
Image: Courtesy GiRL FeST

Girls Gone Wild

GiRL FeST spotlights national and local leaders in female empowerment

Extras / Now in its eighth year, GiRL FeST hosts the annual female empowerment festival at a different time of year than usual–during legislative session.

“I’m never scheduling GiRL FeST during session again,” says non-executive director Kathy Xian, half-jokingly. “I’m currently working for seven bills related to human trafficking for sex and labor while GiRL FeST is nearing fruition.”

However, working the festival and policy advocacy simultaneously has its benefits. “Because of the anti-trafficking cause, people who’ve never known about how to pass bills are becoming engaged in the legislative process and learning how to push bills through,” says Xian.

This logistically crazy timing actually seems serendipitous for GiRL FeST 2012, which uses the arts, workshops, film screenings and panels to educate and empower females of all ages against violence. To combine the legal with creative means of protecting oneself against violence is a comprehensive way of reaching a diverse range of people.

This year, in addition to festival performance veterans such as poet Mindy Nettifee and actor-writer Amber Tamblyn, GiRL FeST will host a screening of Desert Flower, a documentary about Somali supermodel Waris Dirie’s journey out of a life stricken by political turmoil and poverty. There’ll also be a screening of Miss Representation, various workshops that include zine-making and b-girling with the Pacific Roller Derby, followed by, of course, parties featuring our talented local ladies in music and DJ-ing.

The conference section of this year’s GiRL FeST is titled, “Sexualization of Girls and the Rise of Violence Against Women.” Alicia Yang of the Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence will be moderating the panel and says, “It will be both compelling and inspirational as we look towards transforming perspectives and empowering girls towards self-determination.”

One of they key panelists is Laura Lederer, a renowned law expert in human trafficking and president of the Global Centurion Foundation. As a preview of her keynote section, she says, “I will be emphasizing gender discrimination in the law, law enforcement and victim services… I believe that we need to take the focus off the arrest and prosecution of young women and girls and put it squarely on the men who create the market for commercial sex.”

Empowering females by teaching them how to advocate for and express themselves artistically, physically and legally should indeed help the next generation of fierce women move forward.

GiRL FeST 2012 runs 2/16–2/20 at various venues. Visit [girlfesthawaii.org] for more info.