By Patricia L. Morin
I was drawn to the relationship between gender parity in theatre and publishing through my work with the International Centre of Women Playwrights (ICWP), of which I am the president. We had just completed our 2017-2018 50/50 Applause Award honoring theatres that promote women playwrights around the world on an equal or greater basis to male playwrights. ICWP’s mission is to connect, inspire, and empower women playwrights to achieve equity on the world stages.
Let’s take a short look at what has happened in gender parity over 2017 and 2018 thus far.
In January, 2017, the first Women’s March, one of seismic proportions (over 4,000,000 women), created a tsunami of awareness and solidarity that flooded major US cities, as well as other cities throughout the world. Women were taking a unified stand.
Actress America Ferrera, during the march, said, “We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families.” January, 2017 https://www.womensmarch.com/
This march was repeated again in January, 2018
The #MeToo movement spurred on more resistance by women. What began in October 2017 rocked the film, media, publishing, and theater industries across the world–when actresses started using the #MeToo hashtag on social media to demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment. It followed on the heels of the Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct allegations.
Leigh Anne Ashley, writing in Writer’s Digest said, “There seems to be no genre that has not been impacted by women finally feeling able and welcome to tell their stories. A recent Google search with the words “#MeToo articles” returned 6.6 million results. To those of us who have been paying attention, seeing the internet filled with so many women’s voices, including so many new voices, is a remarkable thing. I’ve noticed a shift in my writing; I feel gutsier and less apologetic.” “The #MeToo Movement and Its Impact on Women’s writing.” March 29, 2018
Yet, women playwrights struggle …
Industry still has a long way to go, Centre for Women Playwrights finds.
The Playwrights Guild of Canada reported that for the 2017 season in that country, productions by male playwrights continued to dominate — 64%, which was the same as 2016.
The National Voice, a publication of The Australian Writers Guild, reported that, of 95 shows surveyed for 2017 that included Australian playwrights — including those staged by state theater companies — 56% were written by men.
Women are uniting worldwide, walking side by side on a road now more traveled, a path that is growing longer and touching many countries. At the urging of feminist and journalist Caroline Criado Perez, a statue of Millicent Fawcett was placed in London’s Parliament Square in April. In the foreword to the Fawcett Society report “Sex & Power 2018″, Perez writes: “Finally, we have to stop pretending that the path to equality is out of our hands. Power is never given freely. Liberty is never achieved by chance. It is achieved by design. So let’s start designing it.”