Visual Arts Competition “Woman through art”

May 10, 2016


Brian J. Williams,
Resident Representative, UNDP Albania
Resident Coordinator, UN
At the Visual Arts Competition “Woman through art”

I am very pleased to be here with you today to participate in this special event “Woman through art”.  

It is an opportunity – and we need to make more of them - to call for greater equality between women and men, to empower women in all walks of life, and collectively put a rapid and definitive end to gender based and domestic violence.

UN agencies in Albania are excited to support this arts competition. Through art, we supporting creative approaches to engage women and men, girls and boys to be agents of change for themselves, their communities and Albanian society.  

These 43 students of Visual Arts Department at Jordan Misja Lyceum joined the initiative “Woman through art” to become activists, to create art to break the silence about violence against women. Through their acts of creation, they are joining a global movement to end violence against women.

With this artwork, these 43 young artists are calling us all to our responsibilities.  It is our job – as the privileged viewers of their work – to exercise our imaginations, to reflect upon the meaning of their art, and to be motivated to act to make a change.  That means discussing this with your children.  This means raising your voice the next time an uncle or a nephew or a colleague makes a joke that betrays views that should be contested, either directly or more subtly.  If you need ammunition for such discussions – and such discussions are rarely easy – well then you have 43 arguments today here in front of you.  

Art is a universal language, but its universality does not allow us to escape our individual responsibilities.  

In taking up this challenge, you will also help Albania to achieve Sustainable Development Goals.  The global Sustainable Development Goals seek to realize the human rights of all. Goal 5 is known as the stand-alone gender goal dedicated to achieving gender equality. But women’s empowerment will be needed to achieve all the Goals.

Of course achieving gender equality – including putting an end to gender-based and domestic violence - will require efforts on many fronts. In Albania, more laws exist to protect women than before, but too much violence is still occurring, too many destructive stereotypes persist in the media, in schools, in government.  

Alongside approaches such as today’s art challenge, systemic efforts are needed.  These include adaptations to curricula to teach young children – especially boys – about the rights of girls and women’s empowerment.  Such efforts should start at the very youngest levels of education.

Other efforts can be built around the16 days of Activism against gender violence that takes place every year from November 25 to December 10th.  Let us know limit our work to those 10 days, but rather see every effort – such as today’s art programme – as contributing to a campaign, local, national and global, that is active every day but reaches a crescendo of activism during those days.  

Finally, I would like to thank all our partners among state, non-state actors, schools and special thanks go to the Government of Sweden that have continuously supported the work of UN everywhere and in particular for upholding women’s empowerment, gender equality principles, non-discrimination and elimination of domestic violence everywhere in Albania and for the generous financial contributions to this field.

Thank you and success with your artistic work!


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