Mia Faiumu

Mia Faiumu was one of the organisers of a 2017 women’s rights protest against rape culture and sexism in New Zealand. Mia, from Wellington East Girls’ College, and other students were reacting to rape jokes by male Wellington College students and sexist social media posts by male students of St Patrick’s College, Silverstream. The protesters were demanding an end to sexual abuse and advocating compulsory education in schools about sexual consent.

The organisers of the protest were surprised to encounter a negative backlash from some students. Some were threatened with violence and accused of being ‘radical’ because they had spoken out. Mia and other protest organisers fielded negative comments via social media, with one person stating that ‘feminism is a type of cancer’. They were not deterred and the protest was attended by hundreds of supporters. Watch this video to see the protest and hear what Mia said.

Mia joined her school’s feminist group, FeminEast, in 2015. She was interested in women’s rights, and the group was a safe comfortable place to learn about and discuss these issues. FeminEast has been actively speaking out on feminist issues within the school and the wider community since 2013.

Students meet weekly to explore issues of concern. Past meetings have discussed sexual harassment, ‘slut-shaming’, physical self-loathing, eating disorders, misrepresentation by the media, and access to contraception and abortion services. The group regularly created zines, handmade self-published magazines that represented the points of view of many of the young women. The zines were printed and distributed throughout the school. Mia was a member of FeminEast until she left East in 2017. She continues to fight for women’s rights as a member of the Campus Feminist Collective at the University of Auckland.

The 2010s have seen an increase in the number of young women identifying as feminists and an upsurge in feminists clubs and groups in schools and universities throughout New Zealand. Social media has made it possible for young people around the world to share, learn about and discuss feminist issues. Popular figures such as musicians Lorde and Beyoncé, and the actor and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson, are identifying as feminist. Alongside the #MeToo movement that emerged out of the film industry, these contemporary modes of activism have contributed to a groundswell in global feminism.

Explore more stories about women's activism in New Zealand

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