(The Following article has been extracted from the Commonwealth Secretariat Webpage, Link: http://www.thecommonwealth.org/news/34580/34581/242659/081211hruart.htm )
Empowering women through art
8 December 2011
Commonwealth art works on display during Human Rights week
An exhibition on empowering women through art was held at the Commonwealth Secretariat’s headquarters in London, as part of a series of activities to mark Human Rights Day on 6 December 2011.
The art works by New Zealand's Rosanna Raymond and Cameroonian Shiri Achu show how art can be used to empower and encourage women to stand up for their rights.
The theme of the exhibition is ‘Artist or Activist? Exploring and Empowering Women through Art’.
Ms Raymond, who is of Samoan descent, said her art work draws inspiration and imagination from folklore and legends narrated to her by her grandmother.
Through her art she encourages women to reconnect with their roots and deconstruct the cliché of the island girl. She also uses her art to get young women to think about the sacredness of womanhood and to challenge them to stay away from abusive relationships.
Ms Achu’s paintings, using acrylics on hardboard, depict African women in everyday scenes in their various roles as wife, mother, provider and women-in-the-making.
She said: “I want to portray women as confident and make them have a sense of dignity and pride in themselves and feel comfortable in their own skin.”
The theme of the week’s activities at the Secretariat is ‘Women Human Rights Defenders: Agents of Change within Commonwealth Communities’.
The 2011 Commonwealth Day theme ‘Women as Agents of Change’ celebrates women whose work has made a positive difference to the lives of others, and emphasises the Commonwealth message that by investing in women and girls we can accelerate social, economic and political progress in our member states.
Karen McKenzie, Acting Head of the Secretariat's Human Rights Unit, said the week of events are aimed at promoting human rights mainstreaming and awareness so that all development programmes and policies further the realisation of human rights - in line with the Commonwealth Secretariat’s strategic plan.
The week started with a testimony on the life of Ugandan human rights defender Marjorie Nshmere Ojule, who fled her homeland and sought asylum in the United Kingdom as a result of her activism work.
On Wednesday, 7 December, a documentary film on the plight of women who have been branded witches in Ghana - ‘Witches of Gambaga’ by Yaba Badoe - was screened.
On Thursday evening, 8 December, the Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma, will deliver an opening address at an event aimed at celebrating the 63rd birthday of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the brave women across the Commonwealth who fight for positive change on a daily basis. The week culminates on 9 December with a roundtable discussion on the issue of forced marriage.
My display and a few pics from the day can be seen below...