We continue with our interviews and showing you the amazing work behind our partner's associations.
Breastival was founded by two amazing breastfeeding mums, Dr Jennifer Hanratty and Jennifer Wallace, that wanted to change the way breastfeeding is perceived and the whole experience for mums, and it has only grown since it was first launched 3 years ago.
Today I want to share what Jennie has to say about that feminist journey and its impact in the community.
What is Breastival?
Breastival celebrates, supports and normalises Breastfeeding. We host events which bring people together providing a safe space for learning, sharing & community building
What is the biggest impact of it?
Northern Ireland has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world. Breastival works to impact that statistic and create a healthier future for our communities. Our flagship annual festival attracts over 1200 people, all committed to making a change.
How did you start and where are you going, what is the big vision?
Breastival started in 2017 with an idea to get some breastfeeding mothers in a room and have a chat. We quickly realised the demand and need for something bigger after anticipating 30 attendees and 600 showed up! Since then we've formalised and grown the team and are now running events throughout the year.
We curate a touring exhibition featuring images of breastfeeding in everyday life which has been displayed across Northern Ireland.
We won the coveted MAMA Award in 2019 for changing the narrative around what breastfeeding support looks like.
We want to continue our quest to normalise breastfeeding and ultimately make life easier for families.
How is feminism related to it?
Women have the right to chose what they do with their bodies but in many circumstances are made to feel like they have to follow someone else's idea of what is normal or acceptable. Not only is breastfeeding a feminist issue, but it is also a human rights issue. Women are empowered by asserting the value in themselves and their ability to meet the needs of their children. Breastfeeding confirms a women's power to control their own body and challenges the view that breasts are predominantly sexual organs.
And now, our Feminist questionnaire :)
What is Feminism for you?
For me, feminism is about expecting equality for all and not accepting less than that.
Which “everyday sexism” really bothers you?
Little small things bother me, like the things that really shouldn't matter. Men feeling that they have to give up their seats for women or hold open doors. But I think every time those small, seemingly insignificant things get repeated, it reinforces a larger subconscious collective understanding that women are weak.
Do you remember when you start identifying as a Feminist and why?
I've never really thought too much about feminism until recently but I think raising a daughter has opened my eyes to the way that children are pre-conditioned into gender stereotypes from such a young age. I think making more conscious decisions about not falling into those stereotypes has pushed me further into my feminist journey without even really realising it.
Who is your biggest feminist role model?
You guys! What The Feminist Shop are doing is bringing feminism to the masses, de-stigmatising the word and opening up conversations around what it means to be a feminist. It's such an exciting project to watch unfold and I'm learning so much.
What is your favourite Feminist quote?
“Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings." by Cheris Kramarae
What is your proud feminist victory?
Raising a daughter that is open-minded and fearless. She plays football in a princess dress and I'll continue to expose her to everything the world has to offer with no limitations. I hope that the world she grows up in will learn to accept her and her peers just the way they are.
What is your feminist recommendation?
Book: Mika & Lolo. subtlely integrating messages of acceptance and positivity from an early age is important when trying to raise well rounded and open-minded children. Mika & Lolo is a great story that grown-ups will enjoy too.
TV show: I've really enjoyed watching The Marvellous Mrs Maisel on Amazon Prime.
What is your feminist call of action to whoever is reading?
Spread the F word! have the conversation and use the word unapologetically. That is a very much needed start!