“Surf culture is awakening to new surfing possibilities* and women are not simply participating with this revolution, we are driving it.” -Cori Schumacher at the March 8th International Women’s Day Event.
On March 8th, The Inspire Initiative had the unique opportunity to join forces with Easkey Britton as she tours with the film, Into the Sea, to host a celebration of International Women’s Day in solidarity with men and women around the world who also held celebrations, events, and campaigns to address the achievements and challenges of women everywhere. This was truly an extraordinary day for us to come together for an evening of conversation, art, music, and inspiration centered on women in surfing.
During the course of the evening, Easkey and Cori Schumacher, co-founder of The Inspire Initiative, gave presentations that delved briefly into the stories of how surfing brought them to the creation of their organizations and each presented a film to the gathering of over 100.
FLUX: Redefining Women’s Surfing can be viewed here.
Into the Sea can be viewed on itunes here.
In attendance were some of the world’s first professional women surfers, women who were among those who founded, ran, and originally competed in the Women’s International Surfing Association: Debbie Beacham, Jericho Poppler, Shannon Aikman, Paula Reynolds, Cher Pendarvis, and Betty Depolito. The legends were celebrating WISA’s 40th year anniversary, a day that inspired women around the world to create their own organizations and to dream that one day they too could be professional surfers. We were honored by their presence and reminded that it is because of these women and their tremendous strength and bravery that so many opportunities exist for female surfers today.
Also joining us was Professor Krista Comer of Rice University, author of Surfer Girls in the New World Order (Duke University Press, 2010) and founding director of the Institute for Women Surfers. Professor Comer’s groundbreaking book, along with the Institute for Women Surfers, are profound sources of inspiration and education for those currently engaged in transforming women’s surfing through grassroots projects and collaboration. Professor Comer herself continues to be a galvanizing force within the wave of visionary female surf activists and academics currently on the rise within women’s surfing.
Those who attended were treated to a stunning collection of art inspired by the female Iranian surfers in Easkey and Marion Poizeau‘s film, Into the Sea, from Loime Studios. These were generously made available for those in attendance for a silent auction which raised funds for Waves of Freedom and The Inspire Initiative, which also included pieces by local artist Madelyn Sullivan, legendary surf photographer Tom Keck, local surf art guru Andy Davis, as well as items from Seea and Waveborn.
This collaboration between The Inspire Initiative and Waves of Freedom for surfing’s first International Women’s Day celebration, marks a unique moment in the growing women’s movement in surfing that envisions surfing as a vehicle for positive social change.
“Once you get in the water the rules and norms of society dissolve and the power of the ocean to connect and spread happiness is huge.” – Easkey Britton, TEDx Dublin, 2013
“There is a growing movement of female surfers who believe surfing can be more than simple escapism or competitive sport. I can’t wait to explore the emerging possibilities of surfing with these ladies.” – Cori Schumacher
It is hard to overstate the momentum and impact of this movement, which is not limited to surfing, but can be found in other action sports, like skateboarding. Cori brought up the vanguard organization Skateistan as an example of the impact an organization can have on women and girls, both at home and abroad.
(Learn more about Skateistan here.)
“Providing girls with the opportunity to learn, play and grow is one of our biggest motivations for doing what we do. We believe that this is an absolute necessity in the countries where we work – where girls lag behind boys in education as children, and economically as adults.” -Skateistan, Why Skateistan Celebrates Women’s Day
A few of the ways in which The Inspire Initiative is participating in this movement:
-by continuing to build the History of Women’s Surfing project in order to amplify the voices and storytelling of diverse women surfers from around the world. This is a project fundamentally grounded in intersectionality, aiming to unveil the rich diversity of surfing women around the globe, regardless of sexuality, race, and class. (History of Women’s Surfing Initiative).
-by actively working to cease the tide of sexualization and objectification of women and girls in surf media and surf marketing to more fully realize the potential surfing has for the physical liberation of women and girls (Surf Media Literacy Initiative).
-by aligning with the upcoming UN Sustainability Development Goals and actively working with partners to encourage sustainable development practices in our industry while ensuring women and girls are fundamentally situated at the core of every conversation and decision around sustainability (Critical Education and Action Initiative).
-by developing grassroots outreach programs that will educate and empower female surfers to use surfing for positive social change.
There is much to do but we hope you are excited, inspired, and emboldened by the work being done and with the knowledge that there is a profound and far reaching movement emerging from within women’s surfing. We hope that you will join us next year for International Women’s Day 2016!