The 5. International Conference of Women’s Museums with the title “Women’s Museums: For a Culture of Equality” took place from 28 until 30 November 2016. The International Association of Women’s Museums, with its office in the women’s museum Meran/o (I), met for three days in Mexico City. Host of the conference was the women’s museum Mexico, which is led by FEMU (Federacion Mexicana de Universitarias AC) and the University of Mexico City.
In the dignified hall of the old Faculty of Medicine, University of Mexico City, the congress was inaugurated by Patricia Galeana, the director of the women’s museum Mexico, the godmother of the congress Patricia Mercado, Secretary of Government Mexico City, and Monica Gonzalez Contro, advocate of the university on behalf of the rector.
Highlight of the inauguration was the award of the first IAWM-prize to the Senegalese director Annette Mbaye D’Erneville. The 90 year old Annette Mbaye d’Erneville has not only founded the first African women’s museum in Senegal, but also inspired others to do the same. Mali and Central Africa followed her example. The Canadian women’s museum was founded by her niece Lydie Olga Ntap. „Tata-Annette“(aunt) or „Mere-bi“(mother), as she is called, shows us how one single woman is able to change the world. As first female journalist in Senegal she advocated throughout her life emancipation of women and democracy in her country.
The statue was created by the Mexican artist and women’s museum woman Glenda Hecksher and the monetary prize of 5000 Euro was donated by the Soroptimist Clubs Vaduz (LI), Zug (CH), Goldes (A), and Meran (I).
After the celebratory opening of the congress the hosts provided a guided tour in the women’s museum, where the rest of the congress took place. Representatives of international women’s museums and women from the University of Mexico City spoke about the significance of women in history, promotion of human rights through women’s museums, socio-political and socio-cultural work of women’s museums in society, and their commitment against gender-violence.
In a workshop various women’s museums presented and discussed best practices and creative solution finding. Throughout the congress it turned out that many women’s museums worldwide are facing similar problems at the moment. Some do not have the necessary financial means, some face a misogynistic society and some have to justify their existence over and over again. Fact is that hardly any cultural institution has to put up with so many adversities and obstacles as women’s museums do.
Letters of support for the momentarily affected women’s museums were written during the congress. The indigenous sociologist Silvia Monzon from Guatemala, who has founded an initiative for a women’s museum, wrote a statement which was signed by all participating museums and will be published on the website and social media of IAWM as soon as possible.
On the last day the general assembly of IAWM took place, where the statutes were modified and the program of the next four years was determined. Also the elections of the new board took place: president of the association remains Mona Holm from Norway. Vice-president is from now on Lydie Olga Ntap (CAN). Other board members are Kye-Hyeong Ki (Korea), Gaby Franger-Huhle (D), Catherine King (USA), Elsa Ballauri (Albania), and Claudia Mandel (Costa Rica). Sissi Prader (I) is co-opted as treasurer.
The congress takes place every four years. Last time IAWM met in Alice Springs (Australia) in 2012. The 6th International Congress of Women’s Museums of IAWM will be 2020 at the women’s museums Hittisau (Austria).