Creative Arts and Gender-Based Violence Advocacy

During this COVID-19 pandemic, Visuals for Gender is engaging more with our audience through online activities. We have had a number of live programs that will give some selected resource persons the platform to share their knowledge on gender-based violence advocacy. 

In the month of July, we had  a series of live programmes on the topic ‘Creative Arts and Gender-Based Violence Advocacy’. The speakers are creative artists who are using their artforms in GBV advocacy. Some of them were writers, poets, photographers, visual artists, singers, dancers, just to mention a few. The series was done every Friday on the Visuals for Gender Facebook page. In total, we had nine guests for the entire four weeks.

Our first live program was done on the 10th of July 2020. The guests were two ladies who are both writers and gender advocates. They were A’bena and Akorfa Dawson. They shared their experience on GBV advocacy using their art as writers. Through the conversation, they shared that creative arts appeal to people’s emotions thereby drawing them to understand issues related to GBV as well as  propeling them to change. Akorfa added that creative arts creates a safe space for people to share their experiences where it does not have to be about re-creating awareness for people but by encouraging others to also share their experiences which can help victims heal and bring restoration.

Through their write-ups, they have been able to clear some myths people have about GBV. They further went on to say that some victims of sexual abuse share their ordeal with them. They help them by giving a listening ear and encouraging them to grow out of their pain. For those whose issues are beyond their control, they help them seek professional help, 

The conversation continued on the 17th of July with two speakers, Miss Farida Yusif and Summit Boahen. Farida is a journalist at Citi FM and  the founder of The Boring Talkative, an NGO that provides a platform for gender-based violence advocacy. Summit is also a visual artist who uses visuals to communicate on issues pertaining to gender-based violence. As advocates, they believe that people can easily relate to the different forms of gender-based violence cases through creative arts like storytelling, music, poetry etc. which depicts the realities of social issues. The creative arts is also a good way to gain people’s attention for those who do not like reading or listening to the news. The visuals, lyrics or music accompanied  by the GBV advocacy content engenders in people the need to take the issues of gender-based violence seriously.

They also shared their concerns about the effects of lyrical content of some songs on ‘consumer behavior’. They agreed to the fact that some lyrics promote the notion that women are sexual objects. 

 In most cases, the female is represented as a sex object, thereby conforming to people’s perceptions that the woman is an object only there for sexual pleasure. Summit  expressed his dissatisfaction at some musicians and video directors who give certain roles to females to play where they expose themselves or indulge in certain sexual acts  in music videos.

We had 3 speakers as our guests on the 24th of July. They were Jewell, a spoken word artist, El-Kaydee a poet and spoken word artist and Felicia Cade, an international artist from the USA. They also shared their experience as creative artists and using their gifts for gender-based violence advocacy. Felicia organises programs that seek to enlighten people about the realities of GBV and create a safe space for victims. She uses creative arts as a means of communicating with her audience to better understand the issues of sexual violence in the American society. She explained that through such programs, people have had the courage to speak up about their experiences. They have been able to connect with people and offer a space for healing.

Jewell, a spoken word artist, uses his craft to talk to people about gender-based violence. He shared his experience with domestic violence from home where his father was abusing his mother. The situation sparked his influence in using poetry to advise people about the effects of GBV. He is more focused on males who turn to be the majority of perpetrators in sexual abuse cases. He further went on to explain that through some of his performances, he has had people approach him about their abuse. He gave an instance where a young girl approached him about her experience with sexual abuse. He took the opportunity to give a listening ear and encourage her.

The other guest, El-Kaydee is also a poet and spoken word artist whose advocacy on GBV was fueled by the high records of gender-based violence cases reported worldwide during the Covid-19 pandemic. He released his first piece on assault on youtube called “Battery”. He addresses assault and its effects on the victims. He too, like Jewell, is concerned about making men/boys understand that it is wrong to abuse women/girls.

The last speakers were Ursula who is a writer and George, a visual artist. Ursula uses her art in blogging about social issues relating to gender-based violence. She said because of her write-ups, people start conversations on her social media platforms on some of the issues she speaks on. She said there have been times where some guys disagreed with her on some matters and sometimes she gets insulted. However she is not discouraged but continues writing. She added that some people also reach out to her and commend her for what she is doing. Through her writing she has been able to change certain perceptions people once had.

George as a visual artist mainly uses photography to tell stories on women empowerment and social issues. He said the images create a vivid picture in the minds of his audience to have a deeper understanding of how important women are and the need for them to be respected and not abused.

Both speakers elaborated on the fact that people who are involved in any act of gender-based violence do so because they see nothing wrong with it. The mind set is a strong weapon which contributes to people either entertaining acts of GBV or advocating against it. They believe that when people change their mentality on how they view gender-based violence, the narrative will be told better.

At the end of the series, it was realised that creative arts play a very important role in gender-based violence advocacy. Apart from these artists using their artforms in GBV advocacy, organisations and gender activists must also employ creative arts in their advocacy work. This is because it is easier to get the attention of people and make them contribute in the fight when the message is accompanied by some creative arts pieces.

As a nation, we all have a role to play in GBV advocacy. It’s about time we utilise creative ways in telling the stories of victims and exposing the ways of perpetrators. 

Kindly visit our facebook page to watch the conversations.

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