Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Unbound Visual Arts Harvard Exhibit Inspires "Epic Heroines of Burkina Faso"

UNESCO/UNITWIN Affiliate Unbound Visual Arts (UVA) recently opened an exhibit at the Harvard Allston Education Portal in Massachusetts. The exhibition is based on the "ancient Greek epic poems, Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, which served as source material for some of the earliest themes in artwork." The exhibit will run through 23 December, and features the work of seven UVA artists. More information can be found on the UVA website.

Inspired by this theme, the team at the UNESCO/UNITWIN Network anchored at Boston University's Women's and Gender Studies (WGS) Program took the opportunity to look at the roles of two heroines in the history of Burkina Faso through this 'epic' lens. The following storyboard shares their historic roles defending their territories, and all the while breaking down gender barriers.

The two heroines highlighted in this storyboard are Warrior Princess Yennega and Princess Guimbi Ouattara. Yennaga is known as the "Mother of the West African Nation of Burkina Faso" and for her brave leadership of troops in the 14th and 15th centuries. She figures in the Women of Vision Burkina series earlier on this website, and currently in an exhibition at the Harvard Education Portal.

Princess Guimbi Ouattara defended her city in the West of Burkina in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She is revered in the region and is also designated as a Woman of Vision, Burkina Faso.

Both of these women exemplify the UNESCO priority theme of promoting gender equality, and notably disseminating positive images of women's roles and leadership. We hope that you too are inspired by their story,  as well as those conveyed by the artists of the Harvard EPIC exhibit!



Thursday, April 17, 2014

Burkina Features at Boston Exhibition!

The Faneuil Branch of the Boston Public Library has been hosting an exhibition on West African Women's Empowerment for the past seven weeks. Featuring photos taken by Brenda Gael McSweeney of the Boston University-based UNESCO/UNITWIN Network, the exhibit opened with a reception held on International Women's Day in March. Over 100 members of the local community, political representatives, university colleagues and more came out to learn about the evolution of roles and rights of women in the West African nation of Burkina Faso from the 1970s onward.

The exhibit was co-sponsored by the Friends of the Faneuil Branch Library, Unbound Visual Arts, and the UNESCO/UNITWIN on Gender, Culture and Development. The exhibit was based on the work and research of Brenda with Scholastique Kompaoré, a pioneer of women's education and empowerment currently residing in Ouagadoudou, Burkina Faso.

More information about the exhibit, as well as a gallery of photos from the opening reception, can be found on Unbound Visual Arts' site, here. The story of the advancement of Burkina's women over four decades can be viewed in storyboard format here.

Boston University's Professor Emeritus John Hutchison took a keen interest in the research, and is currently integrating it into an African Languages website that he hosts.

Photos from the opening reception may be found on Unbound Visual Arts' website, and below!

Photo credit: John Hutchison
(l to r) Rep. Kevin Honan, Councillor Mark Ciommo, Brenda Gael McSweeney,
Former Rep. James "Jimmy" Collins

Photo credit: Eric West
Brenda McSweeney and BU grad Lavanya Madabusi


Photo Credit: Eric West
(l to r) Betsy Buckley, John Quatrale - Executive Director of Unbound Visual Arts, 
Brenda McSweeney, and John Huchison of BU's African Studies Center

Photo credit: Eric West
Majid Bensellam, solar energy and environmental sustainability specialist 
originally from Meknes, Morocco interacting at the gathering

Photo credit: Eric West
Majid Bensellam, and Carena Cremin from Ireland - 
Carena is involved with the Secondary Education for Girls' Advancement (SEGA) 
School in Tanzania, an initiative of Nurturing Minds



Thursday, March 6, 2014

The SEGA Girls of Tanzania: Unbound Visual Arts of UNESCO/UNITWIN at the intersection of art and education

Connecting women in Tanzania and Massachusetts around the theme of female education and empowerment, the photo exhibit “Educating the SEGA Girls of Tanzania” brought a global feel to Women’s History Month in Brighton. In the exhibit, photographer Warren Zelman depicts the students of the SEGA Girls School, a secondary boarding school for vulnerable girls in Tanzania. The striking photographs will be on display at Athan’s Café Art Gallery from March 6 - July 6, 2014.

(l to r) State Representative Kevin Honan, Nusura Gundi of SEGA (Secondary Education for Girls' Advancement),
and UVA Executive Director John Quatrale
To celebrate the opening of this powerful exhibit, Nurturing Minds, Inc. (a cosponsor of the exhibit) brought in Nusura Gundi to share the story of the SEGA Girls School. As the first exchange student from the school, Nusura came from Philadelphia to Boston to speak about her experience. The installation and opening reception were cosponsored by Nurturing Minds and Unbound Visual Arts, Inc. (UVA), a UNESCO/UNITWIN affiliate.

For more information about the exhibit and the SEGA Girls School, as well as pictures from the opening reception and photographs in the series, please see Unbound Visual Arts’ website.

Nusura Gundi at the mic at left - the first exchange student from the SEGA School

Monday, February 3, 2014

Devoir de reconnaissance envers Monique Kaboré

                 par André Zouré, Maire de Garango, ville natale de Monique 
     
Monique, une femme au cœur d’or que j’ai côtoyée et appréciée depuis ses origines paysannes, très modeste, que rien ne prédestinait à un avenir plein de félicité et pourtant!


Mariée, Dieu merci, à un instituteur, ils ont évolué loin des conforts douillets des quelques rares métropoles des années 60 à 90, Monique a vite compris qu’elle avait une mission humanitaire à accomplir autour d’elle pour transformer les mentalités rétrogrades d’antan, notamment la condition de ses consoeurs des milieux ruraux.

Ainsi donc, Monique, sans doute grâce à la tolérance de son mari, a démarré, dans les années 70, une mission titanique d’encadrement de ses sœurs de Zoaga d’abord, Zabré ensuite. D’associations en groupements, elle a réussi avec ses qualités exceptionnelles de femme battante à braver les préjugés, oh! combien tenaces et négatifs d’une société qui ne concevait pas la femme en dehors du foyer. C’est justement en partant de cette conception anachronique et négativiste qu’elle a pris le contre-pied de ses détracteurs pour baptiser son œuvre en l’appelant «Pag la yiri»*  (la femme c’est le foyer). C’est comme pour dire qu’elle n’était nullement en porte-à-faux avec les traditions, mais que c’est cette notion absolutiste de la femme maintenue dans l’obscurité et l’obscurantisme qu’elle voulait plutôt effacer du comportement des hommes.

Aussi, en développant le rôle social et économique qu’une femme formée et éduquée peut jouer en faveur de l’émancipation de la cellule familiale d’abord, puis de la société entière, Monique, petit à petit, avec ténacité et patience, a acquis la confiance des uns et des autres et a, au fur et à mesure emporter l’adhésion des plus sceptiques; et le rayonnement des résultats obtenus grâce aux divers projets que ses nombreux partenaires ont appuyés, a fait le reste.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Next Generation Development Worker in Neighboring Ghana!

We would like to introduce Micayla Rivin, an exceptional high schooler from Needham, Massachusetts, USA. Given her experience in Burkina's neighboring country Ghana, Micayla was chosen to introduce Brenda Gael McSweeney at a recent Distinguished Career Award ceremony at Needham High.

Expressing interest in global development from a young age, Micayla traveled to Ghana as a volunteer to work with children at a rural primary school. She kindly shared the following pictorial representation of her work. Congratulations to Micayla!


Micayla Rivin helping a four year old Ghanaian boy make a hand print. Volunteers worked with a kindergarten class in Ntranoa, a small section of Cape Coast, to make a tree of life that consisted of all 
of the children's hand prints.


Micayla Rivin photographed with two young girls from Kumasi hills, Ghana. Ruphina (7) on the left and Jennifer (4) in the middle, are two girls who attend the Ebeneezer school in Kumasi Hills, Ghana. The volunteers are seen dancing and playing games with the children in the background.



Micayla Rivin holds seven year old Ruphina in this picture. In the background is the edge of the Ebeneezer school where volunteers play games with students. The ratio of girls to boys in primary school in Ghana is 99%!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Women Shaping History in Burkina Faso, featured at Boston's City Hall!

We're excited to announce the launch of an exhibit on women shaping history in Burkina Faso at City Hall in Boston, Massachusetts, as a part of a larger "All Things Change" show hosted by Unbound Visual Arts (UVA) and the Mayor's Office of Arts, Tourism and Special Events. The component of the exhibit titled "All Things Change: Evolving Roles of Burkinabé Women" follows the progression of roles taken on by women in this West African nation, and the impact that they have had on the development of the country. "Equality Burkina" team member Scholastique Kompaoré features prominently among the six Burkinabé women whose work and achievements are highlighted in the exhibit. The "All Things Change" exhibition, curated by UVA Executive Director John Quatrale, was showcased in an article in the Boston Globe, here


Above, an educational poster describing Burkina's Women of Vision

The exhibit will be on display from late November to December 31, 2013, at City Hall in the Scollay Square Gallery. On December 12, a reception was held for the public and the artists. Brenda Gael McSweeney and Rose O'Connell-Marion represented the Boston University/Equality Burkina team at the reception, enthusiastically sharing the story of female empowerment in Burkina Faso. 

The All Things Change Exhibit has now been invited to show at the Harvard Educational Portal for the first several months of 2014! 



Pioneer of female education in Burkina, Scholastique Kompaoré, at left
with 12th century Princess-Warrior Yennenga at right.


At left, Unbound Visual Arts Executive Director John Quatrale, with UVA Founding Member and Exhibiting Photographer Brenda Gael McSweeney - Léontine Kaboré, a 1st-ever female village chief, figures in Brenda's photo.


Boston's Mayor of 20 years, Tom Menino captured by UVA artist Fran Gardino, is just a pillar 
away from Burkina's village chief Léontine and activist-artist Suzi Ouédraogo.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Women's Empowerment in Burkina Features at Visual Arts Exhibition!

Four photographs depicting a glimpse of the journey of Burkina's women were selected by a jury for an exhibition marking the launch of a partnership between Unbound Visual Arts (UVA) and the Harvard Allston Education Portal. This flagship event celebrated the work of numerous artists from Brighton-Allston and neighboring communities. At the popular Grand Opening Reception, sculpture, paintings, and photographs were shared with the public.

Among these was the Burkina set of photos, that depict the phenomenal workloads of women of all ages in this West African nation. This series of photos also portrays the story of workload lightening technology managed by the women themselves. The end result was time freed up for the women, who could then opt for income-generating activities and encourage their daughters to go to school. The concluding photo captures the Interm Empress of the Mossi Kingdom. The photos were taken over a period of four decades by UVA Council of Advisors Founding Member Brenda Gael McSweeney, based on her work in Burkina Faso alongside Scholastique Kompaoré, National Coordinator of the UNESCO-led Equal Access of Women and Girls to Education Project.

Brenda with Artist/UVA Members Exhibit Co-Curator Ruth Rieffanaugh
alongside the Burkina photo-story (Photo: John Quatrale)
See the full set of photographs of the UVA-Harvard Allston Education Portal exhibition launch here!