In the month of March we celebrate Women’s Day which acknowledges the important role of women within our society as they contribute to the development and the growth of the nation.
Artists as individuals with potency for a wider reach and audience have a critical role in the activities that encapsulate the empowerment of women.
For artists, it is important to embrace equity. In the process this forges harmony and unity which can help in driving success for all. In this regard, equality is the goal, while equity is the means to get there and it is through the process of equity that equality can be achieved.
A focus on gender equity needs to be part of every society's DNA, and it is critical to understand the difference between equity and equality. The International Women’s Day campaign theme this year on March 8, 2023 is Why equal opportunities aren't enough.
“Equality” means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities. “Equity” recognises that each person has different circumstances, and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.
Women, particularly in the African context, are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation which is something that is aggravated by the repressive male patriarchal system.
This has left many women disadvantaged and in a great many times they have fewer opportunities to succeed and attain self development.
From the time they are born, women are already disadvantaged with regard to them having to bear the brunt of household chores and the need to also meet their sexual reproductive health needs.
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All these are some of the challenges that women within the context of Africa face, and hence remain excluded in the many societal activities.
In the arts industry, it is of note that many women have also been subjected to several challenges which have contributed to hurdles to their effective artistic success.
In order to climb the ladder in the artistic industry many women are subjected to incidences of sexual attacks from predators who control the industry. This increases the risk of them contracting HIV-AIDS and also sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
The arts sector also remains highly predominated by males while women too have a stronger potential to accentuate the artistic voices. This is henceforth a call for the important role of policy makers and the responsible authorities to have an important role in advocating for equal recognition of the rights of women in the arts.
The modern woman who is a creative is supposed to be one that is driven by the need to connect to the source of strength.
Art is a very strong avenue that can play such a role. Art has the deeper potential to awaken something within us, and in the process can also open up new ways of thinking. With this in mind the world of female empowerment is premised on the elevation of the feminine to its rightful side against the masculine.
Art initiatives by women have to facilitate that movement and potray women as strong people that are also fearless so that it can facilitate a radicalism which is needed for the amplification of their voices.
This portrays women as inner heroines and in the process encourages them to be bold and make a name for themselves.
This is an activating force that is infectious and It can be attested that it is something that is happening around us in literature, music, movies and everyday life which can play a role in the encouragement of society to notice the amazing capabilities of women.
In the context of women empowerment in the arts sector, it remains important to also put into cognisance the importance of how history is a great teacher, and doing research on strong historical female figures is a great passion of mine.
An important aspect is also with regards to the female artists to connect with the goddess energy through meditation and tapping into the inner artistic soul.
This is characterised by the importance and the need for women to have a sense of self awareness and identity which can facilitate the steps towards their empowerment, and them being mainstreamed in the wider societal activities.
In this regard female strength is something that comes from within and centers and also taps into the inner power which is essential to making the small change to believe in the power.
Artworks that empower females can help in remembering the power of the inner strength and power which is a result of sensibility, vulnerability and compassion.
Art works such as music, literature or poetry should not be merely seen as decorative pieces, but as tools that can necessitate the empowerment of women.
These can be used as tools that communicate the messages of advocacy with regard to the recognition of the rights of women and the rights to equal participation.
Another important parameter that needs to be addressed is the scourge of child marriages which affects the girl child.
It is of note that with the rise in the cases of drug abuse, the girl child remains even more at risk of being taken advantage of, which poses a risk to threat of life.
Art is thus a powerful tool that can channel towards the growth of - and the recognition of human rights particularly those of women as a vulnerable target group.
I too have an active role in the empowerment of women. Artists who are male also have a role to be the voice of empowerment of women.
It is the role of the male artists to speak against the repressions and the forms of manipulation that women are inherently subjected to. It is the duty of the male artists to castigate gender based violence and all forms of abuse that women can be subjected to.
It is also a call for the male artists to call for a change in mind towards the way society views women..
Raymond Millagre Langa is a musician, poet, orator and independent researcher. He is also the founder of Indebo Edutainment Trust. Follow Raymond Millagre Langa @Millagre Ray Langa on Facebook, @Millagre Langa on twitter and email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com