January – April 2019
Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo
26 Adolescent Girl participants
Addressed a root cause of sexual violence
We recently finished working with adolescent girls from the Courage in Congo project (more details about this project can be found here) giving them the chance to represent themselves as the powerful and capable individuals that they are. Through public art they challenged gender stereotypes and addressed a root cause of sexual violence in their community. Tunaweza means “we are able” in Swahili.
This project recognized that adolescent girls have untapped potential, talent, and most importantly, a vital voice to add to their community. We base our work on the belief that the arts are a powerful medium, hugely beneficial in situations of distress and trauma, and are a powerful platform for the girls to make a change in their community.
Why is working with adolescent girls in Goma, DRC so important?
One of the most prominent stories that DRC is known for is extreme sexual violence being used as a weapon of war. While this is no doubt a grave reality, it is important for us to look beyond the sensationalized violence to the heart of the problem: how women and girls are defined and treated in their society. There is a great need in Eastern Congo for services and programs that work to raise awareness and shift perspectives. As the #MeToo and #Timeisup movements have shown us, the roots of sexual violence are in the very fabric of culture and everyday life. In a society that offers less protection, safety, and freedom than women deserve, we will strive to get to one of the root causes to prevent sexual violence and cultivate empowerment. We believe we are all in this together, and can only be strongest when we act together.
What we’re doing about it
During our last project, Courage in Congo, we worked with community leaders to identify a different approach to combating sexual violence, one that was empowering to women and girls. With the community’s input, we designed the Tunaweza Portraits Project.
Over an 8-week long program, we are engaging 25 adolescent girls and 30 community leaders to create 4 murals and 28 public posters showing the capacity and strength of women and girls in 4 neighborhoods in Goma. This project will reach an estimated 200,000 residents through the public artworks. The girls are taking on leadership roles in the project, empowered to express their needs, rights, hopes, and dreams as young women and displaying their talents as leaders and artists.
We know that you are as excited as we are to see young women in public spaces creating imagery that will shift perceptions of the capacity of women and girls. In spaces that are most often dominated by men, the girls are showing themselves to be civically engaged, artistic, and active members of society.
Here’s three ways you can be involved
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