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Empowering communities, women and the youth through local cultural action and critical thinking.

Room 3


Through “Women through the lens” ten young female photographers coming from various social backgrounds, and geographical areas, and with different levels of experience, were mentored through an analytical photography education framework delivered by an intercultural and international team of five female professionals working in the wider photographic field – such as photojournalists, visual storytellers, cultural managers and fine art photographers. Two weeks of intensive entrepreneurial training were organised in order to encourage the group of beneficiary women to become self-sufficient and to develop an artistic project that is economically sustained. The collective exhibition was shown at the Lagos Photo Festival 2019 and their works raise the voices of discriminated communities and challenge authorities to act.

Women through the lens

Beyond caring project”, a project based on and inspired by the theatre play by Alexander Zeldin, gave voice and visibility to domestic workers which are the most undervalued and unacknowledged workforce in Africa, and at the same time has advocated for their cultural and human rights. Building on the previous identification of the needs of this collective through the conduction of interviews, the project designed and organised tailor-made artistic and multidisciplinary workshops for them, among other activities, with the collaboration of young local artists from different disciplines, NGOs, human rights and legal experts and local leaders. Two theatre plays were created, based and inspired by the contents of the interviews the workshops and discussion groups. They addressed and raised awareness creatively on some of the critical issues that domestic workers face, including excessive hours of work, domestic violence, sexual abuse and infectious diseases.

Beyond caring project

Hors Limites” aimed at helping to forge human bonds of solidarity between young refugees living in camps and young indigenous people living in nearby communities from Burkina Faso and Niger. The project offered dance workshops for “breathing, opening, discovering, mobilizing and raising awareness”. Through experimentation with contemporary dance and music, outside the camps, participants had the chance to break divisions, express and empower themselves freely, contributing to reduce violence in their communities and developing collective critical thinking about the current challenges faced at local, regional and global level.

Uliza Wahenga Dada!” aims at empowering the community of feminine creative writers and visual artists to rebuild and re-elaborate the historical narrative including the perspective and contribution of women in history of Tanzania. The initiative was based on the rebuilding of archives, and seeks at collecting women’s storytelling to restore its fundamental contribution in national history and memory, through a feminist approach. Its results were showcased at an exhibition entitled “Bibi, Mama and I”.

Uliza Wahenga Dada!

Alteritude: L’Art de l’Écoute de l’Autre et de Soi-même” has been designed to create and disseminate cultural and artistic work with the goal of strengthening intercultural dialogue, communities mutual understanding and the respect of diversity and alterity. The promoters of the initiative use orality, story-telling and writing as a means for cultural, social and political expression. This led to the organisation of oral and story-telling shows in performance halls, public gardens, neighbourhood playground areas, public transport vehicles, buses and train stations, followed by debates and discussions with the populations about a large range of important issues related to sustainable development, with a special focus on the multiple realities faced by women and children in Africa. Women and girls became central in the “Parlement Populaire”, a decentralized participatory activity aiming at bringing high quality artists and artistic shows towards the local populations and communities.

Alteritude: L’Art de l’Écoute de l’Autre et de Soi-même

The “OpenMic Project” amplifies the voices of young people living in refugee settlements in Uganda, the world’s third biggest refugee-hosting country in the world, and the biggest one in Africa. The initiative, which is based in the use of spoken word as a “sustainable art form especially popular among youth and with a long history in African Culture”, has offered safe cultural spaces for intercultural exchange and freedom of expression to young refugees of Nakivaale Refugee Camp in Isingiro District, allowing the acquisition of skills in creative writing and performance, and raising awareness around relevant issues such as sexual reproductive health rights and gender equality.

OpenMic Project

Pourquoi pas moi ? Plaidoyer pour les droits des personnes handicapées” calls on all possible actors for the full inclusion of children and youth living with mental and /or sensorial handicaps in Democratic Republic of Congo. Through the stimulation and show-case of artistic talents, the project worked towards the cultural rights of those children and youth, including the right to access, participate and benefit from cultural and artistic activities with equal opportunities, and acknowledging their contribution to society. Along with the 30 selected youngsters, parents and educators, local artists and local authorities collaborated together and became beneficiaries of the project as well, progressing as the project advanced to change preconceived ideas and offering full support and commitment for a radical change and further advocacy on this matter.

Pourquoi pas moi ? Plaidoyer pour les droits des personnes handicapées

Femmes en creation” is an artistic capacity building programme with a three-fold approach on women, development and culture. The programme contributed to the emergence of a new generation of professional African women by strengthening the artistic and professional capacities of 9 young actresses and 6 visual artists from Togo, Benin and Mali. It enabled the beneficiaries to strengthen cohesion of the cultural ecosystems of the participating cities and regions and raised awareness on the rights of women and marginalised minorities (orphans, disabled people, abandoned children, etc.).

The initiative “La tournée du Cirque Nu Dagbe” aimed at youth living in the streets of Cotonou to become socially, economically and culturally active thanks to circus training and performances. The children were offered to take part in a diverse range of courses and workshop, including in acrobatics, dance, music and singing, slam, acting and juggling. All these activities ensured by professional and qualified artists, with an emphasis on the transmission of some artistic dimensions echoing West African cultural traditions and the local identity, as a way to also reconciliate participants with their identity. Additional activities and workshops also allowed to strengthen the social dialogue, transmitting them a range of positive values which might help them rebuild themselves. In this way, young people who had prior experienced situations of exploitation or indignity got the opportunity to emancipate and empower themselves by choosing an artistic and creative path, as an opportunity to fulfil themselves and live fully and freely their lives.

La tournée du Cirque Nu Dagbe