VILNIUS - In case you thought you knew Lithuania as an all-conservative country full of macho men, shy girls, and pride intolerance, think again. "Ladyfest Vilnius," an alternative women's culture festival that kicked off on April 27 this year, is organized in the name of equal rights, empowerment for women and girls, and global promotion of tolerance.
Ladyfest Vilnius offers a wide range program this year, including an exhibition, conference, various artistic workshops, films, concerts, self-defense and yoga lessons, orienteering games and other events. The project is part of the national program "Vilnius 's European culture capital 2009" and is supported by a vast number of sponsors and associates, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Vilnius Art Academy, and 's believe it or not 's the Vilnius municipality.
"Ladyfest is an open festival, and everybody who wants to join is invited. It is based on the open "do it yourself" philosophy. People are invited to create, discuss and participate 's the events are organized in order to find new points of view together," organizers of the festival told The Baltic Times.
An exhibition by Laura Garbstiene titled "What should I do to have a unicorn come and put his head on my knees?" is being displayed in the art gallery "Akademija." The artist is well known for her performances, video works and photography exhibitions.
Ladyfest also invites to colorful creative workshops, where participants can share their experience, re-write old stories and create new ones. Visitors will be able to participate in the creation of posters in a workshop "Where have I seen her? Or (un)famous women of Lithuania," or analyze female images in the media in an "Adbusters" workshop. A creative workshop titled "Drag king," moderated by the "Drag kings" band from Sweden, invites people to a gender game and challenges them to take a closer look at problems of sexuality.
Among many other events, there will be an orienteering game 's featuring excursions all around Vilnius on May 9 's and after that an original workshop on food, featuring the creation of a colorful mandala that will take place at "Jalta" restaurant (register by e-mail at email@example.com). A seminar titled "grammar of social critics" will take place in English at the European Humanities University on May 11.
Free lessons of yoga, self-defense and origami, which will take place on May 13-16, might interest some visitors. On May 14-15, a dance miniature titled "1 Kor 15,53" by L. Svedaite and G. Susceviciute and a play "Babytes kalendorius" (Grandma's calendar) is on stage at the Vilnius Art Academy, and on May 15, documentary films on women's life stories are played in Skalvija.
Last but not least, visitors should go see the female rock group concert in "Havana Social Club" on May 16, featuring Iva Nova (Russia), Zimbabve (Lithuania), Anatomie Bousculaire (France), Diva Scarlet (Italy), and female DJs.
The first ever Ladyfest was conducted in Olympia, Washington in August 2000. Since then, the event has spread all around Europe and the U.S.A.
The festivals are organized locally and independently, usually by volunteers following a "do it yourself" philosophy, which is used by many organizations to focus people on creating or repairing things themselves, without the aid of "on-duty" paid professionals. Despite varied content and unforeseen problems, all Ladyfest events are aimed at the celebration of women's input to culture and science, and seek to educate, empower and inspire the participants and society to "go home and create their own life in her/his own space."
Ladyfest in Vilnius is taking place for the third year in a row and is organized by the "New Generation Women Initiatives" organization.