A walking women’s manifesto
On 17th March 2019, Sonia Overall led a public walk as part of POW! 2019 to consider how we read women in public spaces. Some of the 24 participants contributed to the following walking manifesto and list of survival kit texts at the end of the walk.
We should feel entitled to our own space. We should be walking to ‘look’, not to be looked at. We should walk in our own footsteps and not follow others. We have as much right to take up space as anyone else. (If 17% of the crowd are women, everyone thinks there are as many women as men!)
Take back the joy of walking for its own sake. Be proud – claim the space. Be brave. Be bold. Walk where you want to. Be daring in your gaze. Look at other women. Love people-watching. Smile and say hello to people. You’ll be surprised. Walk smiling. Walk frowning. Walk alone and uninhibited. Walk in new places, exploring. Be a child when walking, totally absorbed in the environment, not caring what others think. Walk happily, free of glancing at a mobile phone. Always night walk at the full moon. Banish the thought of being murdered as you walk. If you don’t want to walk alone, get a dog or borrow one. Do not follow someone else’s footsteps. Follow your own path to create your own dreams, not someone else’s. Walk through life and try to find the strength to share.
Empathy for women’s spaces. Public design of space, managing pavements, restricting cars. No parking on pavements. No racing towards zebra and pelican crossings when someone is crossing. Respect for pedestrians. Better pavement surfaces. Better street lighting. Protection of public toilets to enjoy walking.
For street homeless women to be safe. To make the environment shine for all women walkers, including those for whom walking is too often imposed.
Texts for a feminist survival kit
readings from the walk & recommendations from participants
Ahmed, Sara. Living a Feminist Life
Angelou, Maya. I Rise
Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre
Burns, Anna. Milkman
Carter, Angela. Wise Children
Elkin, Lauren. Flâneuse
Fey, Tina. Bossypants
Rhys, Jean. Quartet and After Leaving Mr Mackenzie
Rich, Adrienne. ‘When We Dead Awaken’
Solnit, Rebecca. Wanderlust
Wesley, Mary. The Camomile Lawn
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs Dalloway
If you are a walking woman who has created a manifesto, or you would be interested in contributing to a network walking manifesto, please contact Sonia through her website