Wednesday September 23, 2020
By: Rana Aglan
The history book of life is ripe with stories of empowerment initiatives and narratives on feminist movements for women to take their rightful place in society. The Suffragettes were members of the British activist women organization to grant women the right to vote during the elections. The esteemed George Eliot who inspired other dozens of women writers to publish their own works under their original names at an age when the only way for a woman to publish a body of work was to be done anonymously or pseudonymously. There are a few mutual factors connecting the aforementioned tales into one solid net of grand success: Perseverance, faith, and constant march towards achieving their goals that eventually lead to prosperous outcomes. They have simply established a firm ground for the future generations of social fighters to come.
If someone wants to make sure their efforts do stir the right social change, careful weighing of the right tools and the right action mechanisms has to be completely considered. One can never go wrong with doing some serious, pensive thought before embarking on a long-term adventure. One remarkable mechanism for shifting opinions and achieving the desired results is by taking up on means of creative expression, which can be quite noticed through the expressionists’ depiction of women in scenes of doing day-to-day and regular activities to Google’s modern-day celebratory doodles of trailblazing women.
In August, the 22-year-old visual artist Sandra Moneer, whose practice comprises multiple artistic forms, started a virtual campaign to empower Egyptian women aesthetically and conceptually. Among the objectives according to which Sandra has created the “Egyptian Artists Empower Women” campaign, and being a firm believer herself in the power of conveying ideas through a visual form, Sandra wanted to avert the attention of other visual artists as well to recognize the impact they could leave upon the members of society by using creativity to help spread awareness over topics of paramount importance. In Sandra’s words, illustration is an inexhaustibly powerful visual language; through the graceful directions of lines and formations of shapes, a lot of substantial change could take place.“The whole thing could be summarized into creating scenes where an Egyptian woman would be practicing the role and the duty she has chosen to perform for the course of her life. Positive display of women practicing their daily activities is necessary and more importantly depiction of scenes where gender-equality is a main priority,” Sandra explains.
Sandra kicked off the campaign herself by creating a celebratory long-shot illustration of the International Egyptian footballer Sarah Essam, and an influx of participatory artworks started to flood in, submitted by both men and women visual artists. The artworks screamed in diversity from a collage of rural women baking in a composition of vivid hues and arrangement, to visual odes – both analogue and digital – to numerous notable personas in Egyptian society of every field possible. “Social media includes multiple trends of little to no importance, so why not use it for a good purpose?” Sandra said.
Among the many elements that have offered exquisite success to Sandra’s campaign was using social media platforms – such as Facebook and Instagram – for spreading the word about it and showcasing the participants’ artworks. In Sandra’s early planning, the final target was to create an online exhibition of all the artworks created for this campaign. The campaign was immediately met with unalloyed enthusiasm from artists and audience alike. And as a consequence, news about the uprising virtual social movement spread like light, which has caught the attention of the women empowerment “You Are More Important” community organisation created by the ‘Misr Foundation for Health and Sustainable Development’, and this is what has given birth to “Women Empowerment” workshop which Sandra co-hosted with fellow visual artist Noran Fikri.
Conceptual and creative empowerment of women can not be entirely shortlisted on depicting notable figures and shedding light on less-known ones who are constantly leaving their mark through what they do, but also by putting the beliefs and values we hold dear to heart into test and experience how they bloom. One of Sandra’s objectives is supporting women who work in the visual arts scene by giving them the right guidance and feedback, and offering the emotional support they need to help push them forwardly and ensure their progression. Also by reminding them of the impact they leave upon society, thanks to the work they do.
If you are interested in measuring authenticity of whatever sayings someone widely broadcasts, look at how they seek to put their efficacy into test. Sandra has total faith in supporting her fellow women artists by giving them the opportunity they truly deserve. Sandra co-created and co-hosted her workshop with Noran Fikri, a 24-year-old insanely talented visual artist and aspiring animator. Together, they ventured into this tiny adventure of lecturing the attendees about gender equality and empowerment, instructing them and standing by each other’s side until the entire 3 days of work wrapped up. Another incident strongly emphasizing ‘women support women’ was hosting Mirna Noaman as a guest speaker on the second day of the workshop to help lecture the attendees furthermore on women empowerment according to her own perspective. Mirna is a researcher and a regional design lead at the International Committee of the Red Cross.
It is truly refreshing to witness the success this campaign has achieved from early on till the wrapping up of the workshop’s last day. All the engagement and all the acceptance and the robustness of spirit, whether expressed by the participating artists or the audience. All these happenings give insight into what kind of results will customly formulate themselves when people unify their voices for the right reasons. Each and everyone of them has found profound meaning and they all have recognized the importance of women empowerment and how their community will look like when the feminine power ensures its position within it. Also, the success this initiative has achieved emphasizes the dominating power of creative expression in establishing a firm ground for promoting social change. However, real and solid change will not truly come into life unless we, with all of our might, ensure the progression of constant and rhythmic steps. After all, it is simply about putting one step after the other, and relying on those who agree to go with us this long yet intriguing path of diminishing prejudices and stereotypes.
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