WATAC explores feminist activism in action

12 October 2021
Image: Diocese of Parramatta


The October session of Women and the Australian Church (WATAC) Presents will explore the Australian Women in Religion Project, which is working to ensure Australian women’s stories in religion are told. Tracy McEwan, vice president of WATAC will explore this feminist initiative with Kerrie Burn and Michelle Eastwood in the one-hour Zoom session which is open to all.

A lot of energy is spent within religious and church spaces fighting the patriarchal systems and hierarchies that inhibit women’s full participation. While this work is important, it can also be disheartening and exhausting. The Australian Women in Religion Project encourages participants to do things that are meaningful and also ‘spark joy’ in all who are involved. 

The project primarily is focused on writing Wikipedia articles about prominent women in Australia, New Zealand and Oceania to redress the gender balance on this site. The project has a list of over 500 women who have done valuable work in the church, community and wider society and has so far written over 90 articles. 

There are rules about who should be included on Wikipedia, and these rules often favour men. Just 19 per cent of Wikipedia biographies are about women and only 10 per cent of Wikipedia editors are women. A secondary aim of the project is to publish information about women who have not had their work recognised through traditional channels. 

Each woman involved gets to choose the women they research and write about, and we regularly get together to hone our skills, encourage one another and share the interesting stories of women we are learning and writing about. 

Kerrie Burn is the Library Manager at Mannix Library which is part of the University of Divinity in Melbourne. Kerrie initiated the Australian Women in Religion Project in 2019 which is part of a wider international endeavour to address knowledge and gender gaps on Wikipedia. 

Michelle Eastwood is a research assistant on the project. Her scholarship includes studies of gender and sexuality, Hebrew Bible, and worship and liturgy. Michelle and other team members have written Wikipedia articles about a diverse range of women involved in religious and spiritual traditions. 

Tracy McEwan, theologian and vice president of WATAC said, “The Australian Women in Religion Project is a great opportunity for women to create change in Churches and broader society. It is one way that we can ensure the stories of Australian women are celebrated and preserved.” 

WATAC Presents will be held on Wednesday 13 October from 6pm to 7pm AEDT. Register via www.watac.net.au to participate.

Established in 1984, Women and the Australian Church (WATAC) is an incorporated organisation committed to a Church characterised by equality. For more information please contact Andrea Dean on chair@watac.net.au or https://watac.net.au

With thanks to Women and the Australian Church (WATAC).


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