Goma

Completed mural themed on the Development and Promotion of Women Leadership, April 2016. Participants priming the wall in preparation for the mural.  This was their first public appearance working as artists in the community, and it attracted attention from community members as it is rare to see female artists and painters in Goma, February 2016. (From left to right) participants Alice, Winnie and Riziki priming a mural wall, February 2016.  Winnie designing and decorating a canvass bag that will be a place she can store her art supplies and art journal. The objective of this exercise is to enhance a sense of security and relieve distress, December 2015. Self-portraits created by sixteen of the participants in the first week of class sessions, December 2016. The completed Women in the Workforce Mural, April 2016. Ruth putting finishing touches on a section of the mural for the Development and Promotion of Women Leadership, March 2016. Louange creating the image of a women taxi moto driver for the mural Women in the Workforce.  She herself poised for a photo that the mural is based off of and hopes to become a taxi moto driver March, 2016. Louange in front the completed portrait of the female taxi moto driver for the mural “Women in the workforce,” that she helped to create, March 2016. As part of the process of creating the image for the mural the Development and Promotion of Women Leadership, participant Anna, among other young women in her group, strikes a pose to represent a woman who believes in herself and her own capacity as a leader, March 2016. A section of the completed mural themed on the Development and Promotion of Women Leadership, depicting crowds of people supporting a female candidate, April 2016. A group portrait of the participants and project staff who collaboratively created the Women in the Workforce mural, April 2016.

  • About This Project

    Shifting perceptions of how women and girls are seen in society through a public arts project with out-of-school adolescent girls in Goma, in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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    Courage in Congo

    Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo

    November 2015 – April 2016

    In partnership with a local organization, the Center to Support Marginalized and Exploited Youth (CAMME) and with logistical support from the International Rescue Committee (IRC)

    Specifically, this project aimed to work with adolescent girls who are out-of school and those who are at a great risk of – or who are survivors of – sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Being a teenage girl in this context of Eastern Congo is difficult, as gender norms treat girls as second class citizens, isolate them from peers and support systems, and restrict their access to education and services.  Just when these girls are learning how to become adults, their bodies become the target of sexual violence by members of their own communities exposing them to great vulnerability without tools to protect themselves.

    This project brought community leaders and adolescent girls together on the issue of girls’ and women’s rights, sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) prevention, and support for survivors. Through the psychosocial art-based program 35 adolescent girls aged 15-19 engaged in therapeutic arts activities, art activities that built artistic skills, and activities that built assets to shield against the risks associated with SGBV and expand their opportunities to build economic, social and personal resources in their lives (as defined by the participants themselves). Curriculum was developed by Colors of Connection with resources from local partners and the Population Council.

    Once Colors of Connection arrived to implement the project we were able to better understand how women and girls are visually represented in public imagery particularly in relationship to SGBV in Goma, DRC. The vast majority of imagery casts women and girls as victims, powerless and without agency to address the issues that affect them. This information about the context affirmed the validity of our efforts to work with a community-formulated approach and to directly engage women and girls in the creation and public dissemination of SGBV prevention imagery.

    During the program community leaders were brought together in the form of a Community Arts Council (CAC) to guide and advise the project and principally to provide two themes for two murals that the participants would create. This project provided a rare opportunity for the community to develop imagery and messaging that created a fresh approach to the campaigns for SGBV prevention and support of women and girls. Meetings and discussions of the CAC lead to the developing of the following themes for two murals: “Women in the Workforce” and “the Development and Promotion of Women Leadership.” The council’s recommendations for the two mural themes were guided by their decision to promote positive qualities of women and girls, specifically those that focused on solutions as opposed to problems (solution-driven) and showed the capacity of women and girls (assets-focused).

    The program culminated in the participants’ design and painting of two murals on two prominent walls in two neighborhoods in Goma and an unveiling ceremony in which 35 participants received certificates of completion. Several post-project initiatives led to sustainability of the project including a volunteer run arts class, and psychosocial support, and scholarships for participants to go back to school.

    As the photos and videos documenting the project show, Courage in Congo provided a rare opportunity for out-of-school adolescent girls and community leaders to come together on the issue of girls’ and women’s rights, SGBV prevention, and support for survivors. The project brought new strength and perspective into this community in Goma and planted seeds for a movement of strong courageous women.

    Photography by Pamela Tulizo Kamale

  • Multimedia

    Courage in Congo
    Women Leadership
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    The Development & Promotion of Women Leadership
    Public Engagement
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    Women in the Workforce
    Healing Through Art
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