“Let’s start by applauding yourself on this International Women’s Day”, says Rotterdam’s poet laureate Elfie Tromp. About two hundred people, mostly women, are in De Doelen on Wednesday afternoon for the programme of the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Access Centre (IDEA Centre). The lectures and talks revolve around women in art. “Because representation of women in media, art and culture is a reflection of how far we are as a society”, says Denktaş about the choice of the theme. “I believe it is, and remains, important to counter stereotyping and prejudice.”

The IDEA Center chose the Doelen because the concert hall fits well with the Women in Art theme, but also because International Women’s Day is an opportunity to collaborate with parties from outside the university, says the chief diversity officer.

Getting married in 22 countries

After the opening by Rotterdam’s poet laureate and Denktaş’s welcome speech, activist and artist Fleur Pierets takes the stage. She tells how she fell in love with a woman and only then discovered how few countries allowed the couple to marry in – 22 countries in 2017. As a form of protest, Fleur and Julian wanted to get married in all those countries. In the end, they married in Paris under police protection because they were threatened. A small shock went through the room when it became clear that Julian died from cancer six weeks later. Persistent negative reports from opponents of same-sex marriage ensured that Pierets remained active as an activist.

After a spoken-word performance by Ishfarah Esseboom and a lecture by Sanne Koevoets on the male gaze, the idea that literature and art are dominated by a male perspective, the programme concludes with a panel discussion with four Erasmus University students. In the hall of the Doelen, drinks will start immediately afterwards.