Kayla and Jenna Spagnoli, the self-styled Feminist Twins, are event planners professionally and fulltime advocates for equality. Their efforts include social media campaigns, planning events and supporting local organizations. 

They host several events each year to bring together the Ottawa feminist community. Their largest is the annual Feminist Fair, which was held last month and attracted more than 1,000 guests.

A crowd of around 100 people inside a large building browsing booths showcasing feminist-themed crafts and women support groups.
 Lansdowne’s Horticulture building transformed into a haven for equality. [Photo © Emily Koch]

The Feminist Twins held their sixth Feminist Fair at Lansdowne, showcasing local crafts and organizations such as Planned Parenthood. The atmosphere was lively and most attendees were willing to share their thoughts on feminism when asked them why it matters.

 “I’m a feminist because of my sister, but also because of my old job. It was such a patriarchal job, and I realized it made me feel worse about myself,” says Kayla Spagnoli.

She says she used to be a funeral director, which she describes as a “boys club.” Once her twin sister taught her about feminism, she realized she needed to take a stand and make a change in the world. 

The Feminist Twins, Kayla and Jenna Spagnoli, smile at each other during the Feminist Fair. Kayla, with short purple hair and glasses, stands slightly behind her sister with her hand on Jenna's shoulder. Jenna wears glasses and has two-toned long blonde and black hair.
Kayla, left, and Jenna Spagnoli smile at each other after many stressful hours of planning the 2019 Feminist Fair. [Photo © Jennifer Prescott]

“It’s not just women who don’t have equality in 2019. It’s women, trans women, women of colour, indigenous women, women with disabilities. When you compound all those different identities, you have further barriers and discrimination,” explains Jenna Spagnoli.

She says she was influenced by the social media platform Tumblr, which exposed her to the problems women face around the world.

Claire Depoe-Collins, left, smiles and interacts with a customer while handing her a homemade cross-stitched sign from her vendor booth.
Claire Depoe-Collins, left, sells cross-stitched signs that display motivational statements, such as: “No justice no peace.”  She says feminism is about “looking at structures in our society that oppress marginalized groups and helping those people.” [Photo © Emily Koch]
Ray Eskritt, left, wears bright blue lipstick, white glasses, and a shirt saying "Radical Revolution". Gabi Antaya, looks at Eskritt as they have a conversation about feminism.
Ray Eskritt, left, and Gabi Antaya, are two passionate advocates for equal rights. According to them, feminism should always be a natural way of thinking. 
“It’s important because it is. Why wouldn’t I be a feminist? I want equality for all, so obviously I am,” says Eskritt. Antaya echoes this, saying,
“There really is no other option.” [Photo © Emily Koch]
Helena Verdier smiles in a pink "Girl Power" t-shirt with flowers in her hair while conversing with a customer at her booth. She is surrounded by colourful flowers. A sign next to her reads," #ReadMyFlowers", the name of her business.
Helena Verdier, sporting a “Girl Power” t-shirt, is a local artist who makes paper flowers out of old books. She says she just started the business, Read My Flowers, at the end of the summer. “I’m a feminist because it matters,” she says. [Photo © Jennifer Prescott]
Danielle Montgomery has green hair, tattoos, and a black t-shirt. She stands behind her booth while holding her palms face up, explaining what feminism means to her.
Danielle Montgomery says she is proud to run her own business, which sells household decor and skin care products. As a child she did not see many women with their own businesses. “I was raised by my mother and grandmother. I grew up surrounded by women,” she says. “I don’t think of myself as a feminist. I just am who I am, and I think that falls under feminism.” [Photo © Jennifer Prescott]
Tess Forman wears a white t-shirt that says "Gender is Dead" while explaining why she thinks feminism is important.
Tess Forman is the only female on the Carleton University baseball team and says she is well aware of the importance behind equal opportunities. Her ‘Gender is dead’ T-shirt summarizes her view on gender equality. “We’re all equal and people deserve the same opportunities,” she says. [Photo © Emily Koch]

Jasmin Yee, left, and Taraneh Dohmer sit near the entrance of the event selling feminist-themed tote bags.
Jasmin Yee, left, and Taraneh Dohmer sell Babes supporting Babes tote bags. “We all need feminism. It means being inclusive and respectful of everyone’s journey,” says Yee. Dohmer also speaks of the meaning of feminism, saying, “Being a feminist means recognizing we’ve come a long way, but still have a long way to go.”
[Photo © Jennifer Prescott]

The Feminist Twins says they have a few new event ideas up their sleeves, but they will be taking a short breather after the fair, which raised $4,700 for local support groups and human rights organizations.