As part of a global campaign to end gender-based violence, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) co-hosted a special event featuring artwork from youth of the Arab region that illustrates the gravity and complexity of the issue.
“We are pleased that so many young people from the Arab region have raised their voice through art to highlight violence against women as a serious human rights violation,” said Khawla Mattar, the Deputy Executive Secretary of ESCWA.
“Youth play a key role in ensuring that such forms of abuse and discrimination are no longer tolerated,” she continued. “It is unacceptable that one in every three women worldwide has experienced physical or sexual violence at least once in her lifetime.”
So far, five countries of the region have adopted a specific law on violence against women, namely Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia. While these laws have limitations—such as a narrow definition of what constitutes violence against women or a lack of focus on prevention—they are considered a breakthrough given decades of silence on gender-based violence.
To raise awareness among tomorrow’s leaders, ESCWA partnered with the Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World (IWSAW) at the Lebanese American University (LAU), as well as with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), to call upon youth of the region to reflect upon where the responsibly lies in tackling these issues.
“It is encouraging that we received 75 submissions from youth all over the region,” said Mehrinaz Elawady, Director of the ESCWA Centre for Women.
“It shows that more and more young people are speaking openly about gender-based violence—not only about the causes and where accountability lies, but also about the solutions,” she added.
Instructions were to answer the question “Violence Against Women: Whose problem is it?” using any form of artwork: photos, videos, poems, songs, posters, paintings, etc. The winners were announced last Thursday at a ceremony at the Adnan Kassar School of Business at LAU in Beirut.
Lebanese artists Rita Abi Daoud, Emma Nader, Imad Barakat, Pia Maria El Khoury and Jana Abi Ghosn came in first place with a short video called "Misplaced Guilt". In second place and tied for third were Eclectic Yemeni from Yemen and Oscar Hasrouthy and Ghida Kobeissi, both from Lebanon, with the following drawings and painting.