EWHA's Research Power for Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences
February, 2020
EWHA's Research Power for Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences


“Facing New Challenges for Feminisms in Asia : Reiterations, Renewals, and Revisions”

The Asian Association of Women’s Studies (AAWS) held its 5th Congress at the LG Convention Hall (International Studies Building), Ewha-POSCO building and ECC from December 6-8, 2019 with the theme, "Facing New Challenges for Feminisms in Asia." As a regular platform for international networking and professional practice, AAWS holds a Congress every three years to sustain the transmission and sharing of ideas and the production of knowledge based on individual and collaborative research undertakings in Asia; to engage participants in presentations, discussions, and debates on women’s issues through international open forums, workshops, and panel discussions; to create a community of likeminded individuals advocating for gender equality and democracy in Asia; and to empower women to teach and engage in knowledge production in different levels of educational institutions.

In this 5th Congress, about 300 domestic and international scholars, graduate students, and activists attended. Of these, 96 were registered presenters from South Korea and 132 presenters came from 20 countries, including Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, China, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Norway, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, United States and Vietnam.

5th AAWS Congress Participants in a Group Photo   President Heisook Kim gives Welcome Address

AAWS President KIM Eun-Shil, through her Opening Remarks, stated that AAWS sincerely hopes that this 5th Congress will serve as a venue for feminists to "debate on different contested and socially relevant issues and themes.” In her Welcome Address, KIM Heisook, the President of Ewha Womans University, genuinely asserted that “Ewha Womans University makes that common intellectual platform for the new future of Asian Women” and that “together with Ewha and through this Congress," she encouraged the participating scholars and students to "continue taking initiatives, setting agendas, building relationships, and forging partnerships."

The three-day 5th Congress included two keynote speeches, two plenary talks, 44 parallel sessions, five poster presentations, booth exhibits from women’s research institutions and women’s organizations, and study tour, thus providing a diverse and abundant array of programs to the participants. Specifically, the keynote speeches invited Ewha Womans University Professor KIM Eun-Shil, who delivered her speech titled , and Professor Mary E. John from the Centre for Women’s Development Studies (India), who gave the second keynote speech titled . For the plenary talk, the two sessions were titled and , respectively. The keynote speeches and plenary sessions stimulated the participants with numerous questions and heated debates among scholars and activists from Asia and other regions.

Eun-Shil Kim delivers Keynote Speech   Mary E. John in her Keynote Speech

Furthermore, the parallel sessions included 162 presenters who were chosen from a total of 202 proposals submitted to AAWS Call for Proposals. The parallel sessions included 44 presentation sessions, which included various themes, such as , and among others. In addition, the parallel sessions included special sessions planned and sponsored by Seoul Metropolitan Government, Critical Global Studies Institute (CGSI) of Sogang University, Korean Women’s Development Institute (KWDI) and Ewha Institute for Leadership Development (EILD).

This congress was especially meaningful not only because it involved the most number of participants among all AAWS Congresses but also because it was held at Ewha Womans University ever since its launching Congress in 2007. Women’s studies scholars in their 40s were the largest group of participants, confirming that they are interested in learning about research from other countries in Asia and engage in intellectual discussions. Also, participants were both amazed and rejoiced by the fact that women’s studies scholars across Asia and the world share the common research interests and challenges in their own regional societies. Indeed, the commitment shown by scholars to engage in deep intellectual exchange through Asian women’s studies was a beautiful momentum and another outcome of this 5th AAWS Congress.

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