From disposable cameras to larger than life murals- Ecuadorian high school girls celebrate the women who most inspire them.
WOMEN ARE HEROES
On March 8th, 2012, the streets of Quito, Ecuador will be filled with images of strong, powerful, beautiful, inspiring women.
March 8th commemorates International Women's Day- a celebration of women, their contributions to society, and their continued struggle for equal footing within it. This international celebration often passes without much notice here in the U.S., but this year we were called to take action. With disposable cameras and a dedicated group of teen girls, our project “Women are Heroes” attempts to inspire a community discussion around Women’s Day. Under our guidance, adolescent girls in Quito, Ecuador will explore ideas around gender equality, and then create a guerrilla street-art installation conveying their perspective to the community.
And to do it, we need your help!
WHEN INSPIRATION STRIKES
This project is inspired by dual sources: the 'Women are Heroes" art project of internationally renowned street artist, JR, and our experience working with the truly heroic young women of CENIT Ecuador.
JR "Women Are Heroes": In 2009, the Parisian street artist JR began a campaign to honor everyday women living in some of the most dangerous and forgotten corners of the world. By pasting up enormous murals of the women in their own neighborhoods, JR brought attention to these women and empowered them to take ownership of their communities.
CENIT Ecuador: We spent the past year working at CENIT or Center for the Working Girl- an Ecuadorian women’s rights organization. CENIT, located in an impoverished and underserved sector of southern Quito, afforded us the opportunity to learn and teach about women’s health and human rights. We were also given the opportunity to teach sexual education to a group of one hundred and twenty Ecuadorian teenage girls... probably one of the most hilarious and equally challenging experiences of our lives!
We were continually inspired by the strength and tenacity of the women and girls we worked with, and it is our conviction that investing in women and girls is one of the best things we can do for this world. And although we returned to our separate lives in California, we couldn’t forget the impact these girls had on us. We go back to Quito for this year’s International Women’s Day, to reaffirm our commitment to women and add more voices to the celebration!
Working with the same students we taught last year, we will ask our girls to explore the meaning of “women’s strength” in their own community. Over a series of weeks, our students will reflect upon the important women in their lives, and put words to the qualities they admire. The students will participate in a photography workshop, and then receive disposable cameras to take portraits of the influential women in their lives. After documenting that strength through photos, we will convert the photos into posters and paste them up on walls in public spaces around the community.
WHAT THE PROJECT WILL ACHIEVE
This project will help build confidence, self-esteem, and women-power in our students by helping them develop their own perspective, then make it come to life! Students will be encouraged to think about women of any age and relationship to them, and also be open to all sides of woman-hood: the positive, the negative, changes they would like to see in their community, etc. The perspective that emerges will be the students' own. By giving the girl a rare opportunity for artistic expression - on the walls, for all the community to see – they nourish their inner voice and sense of self. After teaching sexual education to these students, we have realized that these qualities are equally essential, if not more so, to creating a healthy, empowered woman. Lecture as long as you like about the birds and the bees; if a girl does not have the confidence to speak up for herself, all the contraceptives in the world will not do her much good.
We hope that having these photos in a public space will spark some thought out there in the community as well. Conversations will be had about the photos and why they are there: Maybe someone will have an opinion, feeling, or change sparked within them. Maybe someone will look at the women next to them just a little differently. If so, the art will have done it's job.
WHO SHOULD FUND US?
Anyone who can remembers a moment when they found their voice through art. Anyone who has had a mentor who influenced their life and helped shape who they are. Anyone who believes that the impact we make on each other, as individuals, is just as powerful as any new law, policy, or invention - that positivity and love can change the world just as much.
If that sounds like you, then please help us reach our goal of $850 to purchase disposable cameras, digitize the photos, print the images, and purchase pasting supplies. Any additional funds will be put towards a second round of the project to be carried out with the student's mothers and older siblings in the the coming year.
FIND OUT MORE
Our project- including International Women's Day Student Worksheets in multiple languages, pictured above: http://womensdayinternational.tumblr.com/
CENIT Ecuador: http://www.cenitecuador.org/
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.