I recently recieved an email from the International Museum of Women promoting their new exhibition, Women, Power and Politics. It looks like a fantastic resource with lots of exhibitions. It’s Internet-based and they’re looking at putting together a physical location. It’s available in a number of languages and if you can’t access the images or videos (including those I’m referencing below) let me assure you that from what I’ve seen, the text components of the site cover all the main points and you’re really not missing a great deal. Not only that, but when they say international, they mean international, There are not just token articles but a real engagement with women worldwide.
They’ve just finished the Women, Power and Politics exhibition. You can find the starting page here. I can’t possibly give you a comprehensive review because I haven’t been through anywhere near all of the content. I picked out out feature from each section to tell you about.
In the “Power” section we have Picturing Power. ‘The Poster Women Project was conceived and coordinated by Indian feminist publisher Zubaan Books’ as a means of recording the messages of the past. The page beautifully chronicles women’s history and causes in India through these posters.
In the “Biology” section is The Curse of Nakedness. It says ‘In June 2002, hundreds of Nigerian women, mothers and grandmothers ages 20 to 90 took a stand to protest the oil companies that have taken control of their communities. They overran the largest oil producing facility in Nigeria’s south-western Niger Delta. ‘ They used the cultural taboo of nakedness, threatening to strip off and shame the men, in order to achieve their aims. It’s a great deal more complex than I’ve made it out to be, so go check it out.
The “Appearance” section gives us Cartoon As a Political Manifesto. It’s about French feminist cartoonist Catherine Beaunez and her difficulties in getting heard when she confronts sexism. I like her drawing style. There’s one cartoon shown in which a man refuses a women entry to his kitchen. The description says ‘No women allowed in my kitchen! In this cartoon, the kitchen is the male-dominated political arena. It is the only kitchen men want to cook in and women are excluded from, Beaunez comments. The labels on the jars are acronyms for French political parties.’
Water Woes is well worth reading in the “Environment” section. To quote, ‘Throughout history, women have played a central role as stewards of water. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), “Women are most often the collectors, users and managers of water in the household as well as farmers of crops. Women and children provide nearly all the water for the household in rural areas.”‘. Focussing on Africa, it addresses the heartbreaking challenges to getting water, problems in water privatisation, women’s resistance and low-tech solutions.
The “Religion” section has Dialogues from the West Bank. Very timely. It uses the experiences and opinions of three women of different backgrounds in an interview format to build a picture of these women’s experience in the area.
The “Democracy” section features Democracy over the Airwaves. On election day 5 November 2006, the women of Nicaragua put forward their ideas for their country after years of being ignored. ‘As they gathered in the public plazas and polling stations of the capital city of Managua and smaller townships, women collectively voiced a radical, new vision for their country. […] In doing so, they “transgressed” a 20-year-long status quo of pragmatism in politics in which citizens allowed to have a voice only asked for incremental change.’ The piece also talks about the cultural and historical significance of this means of protest.
In the “Voting” section we find Freeing Finnish Women’s Voices. While Finland has claimed a number of “world first” milestones in terms of women’s rights, ‘the roles of Finnish women–in the political, professional, and social spheres–continue to evolve’. This is explored through the work of Maija Hirvanen, a artist and choreographer. There’s an interview with her, also. She uses evolving movement to convey, well, evolving movement in her “Yeah Yeah Yeah and Other Words” piece: ‘from the stuck feeling in the beginning, they first march, then run around in the space and throw themselves into wilder movements, then wrestle playfully and finally converge to speak their minds’.
The “Election” section features a community voice from Spain in Campaigning for Traffic Light Women. ‘Artist Luz Darriba is waging a campaign for the traffic light women to be her public representatives. On International Women’s Day on March 8, 2006, Luz and a group of volunteers took to the streets of Lugo in northern Spain to modify 76 pedestrian crossing lights to show female icons.’ How cool is that?
The “Organising” section features Kosovo’s Constitution Considers Women. When Kosovo was drafting its constitution last year, Women for Women International made sure that the women of Kosovo had input. They made a particular effort to be sure that rural women were involved in this nation building. It’s quite something.
It’s simply amazing. Have a look.