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WOMEN FOR CHILDREN (article first published : 2006-11-29)

In an effort to address growing incidences of violence and abuse against women and children, Art for Humanity has launched a national public art initiative. The Women for Children billboard advocacy campaign was initiated in November 2005 and presently involves the flighting of 21 billboards all over South Africa.

Supported by the European Union in partnership with Art for Humanity, The Foundation for Human Rights, South Africa, have sponsored the campaign which is one of the many interventions employed by the Women for Children advocacy programme which aims to raise awareness and inspire ‘moral ownership’ in society of the issues of women and children’s rights and to make the art and poetry contained the portfolio more accessible to the public. Through the billboard campaign Art for Humanity further endeavors to lend greater visibility to the voice of women and the pressing issues related to children’s rights and welfare.

The material featured on the billboards comes from Art for Humanity’s Women for Children project which included the collaboration of 50 foremost women artists and poets, 46 of which are South African, on the issue of children’s rights and welfare. The women involved represent a diverse range of cultures from emerging to established professionals. Some of the artists participating include Ernestine White, Diane Victor, Angela Buckland, Nomusa Makhubu, Judith Mason and poets include Lindiwe Nkutha, Liesl Jobson, Malika Ndlovu, Lebogang Mashile and Finuala Dowling among others.

Art for Humanity director Jan Jordaan explains that the billboard advocacy campaign is motivated by Art for Humanity’s “commitment to social development which is based on the observation that societies with a strong history of public art do not struggle with the endemic problems that we associate with the developing world.”

The Women for Children project has been endorsed by both national and international individuals, organisations including Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Amnesty International South Africa, and Justice Yvonne Mokgoro of the Constitutional Court.

Each billboard features one of the collaborations which include an artwork and accompanying poem. At least two billboards have been flighted in every province and each of South Africa’s 11 official languages is represented in the poetry translations.

Art, social development and advocacy are dynamic and challenging concepts which when combined as done by this initiative create an innovative approach for targeting social problems with sustainable and positive results. The billboards flighted by Art for Humanity question conventional ideas and beliefs of art and where it belongs.

Art for Humanity is a non-profit organisation based at the Durban University of Technology, South Africa and has coordinated other projects involved in advocating human rights through art. For more information go to: http://www.afh.org.za




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