Friday, October 9, 2015

Aminata Kiello honored as Special Guest at Parisian Cultural Gathering

We are excited to announce that Aminata Salmata Kiello, a founding member of our Equality Burkina Network, was the Chief Guest at a cultural event that took place on the outskirts of Paris on 13 September 2015. Interestingly, the hosts highlight that the four special guests were accomplished women, all authors.
Aminata Kiello near the Louve 

The evening included performances by popular artists from Africa and beyond. They were: soul musician Kinsy Ray; musical producer Donnat Noazimof of Apolon Music Ltd; and teacher of the art of producing traditional musical instruments, Abdou Kouyaté.

This West African cultural  event took place in the presence of distinguished guests. They included Chief Guestt Aminata Kiello, socio-anthropologist, social activist and author; Cheryl Bolden, Afro-American artist and curator who founded the Precious Cargo Museum; Aset Malanda, writer and President of Ausar; and Dr. Marie-Antoinette Séjean, lecturer and specialist in nutrition, author of numerous publications and President of Nutricréole. 

Congratulations Ami on this honor! 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Women's Empowerment in Burkina Exhibit now in the University Archive and Special Collections at the University of Massachusetts, Boston

Brenda Gael McSweeney provides the background to photographs provided to the University Archive and Special Collections of UMass Boston:

"This photograph below, by my Brighton neighbor Eric West, is now in the UMass Boston Archive and Special Collection. It depicts how our Women of Vision initiative of the Brighton/Allston Historical Society spread to West Africa! My United Nations colleagues there saw our Women's Heritage Trial booklet on Brighton-Allston, and decided we should work on one for Burkina Faso. Unbound Visual Arts, of which I am a Founding Council of Advisors Member, spotted the photo essay co-authored by me and Burkinabe Scholastique Kompaoré with Casey Fox of BU on lightening West African's onerous workloads, and freeing up time and energy for educational and lucrative activities. Then UVA proposed a solo show in Greater Boston!

On March 8th, International Women's Day, the Faneuil Branch of the Boston Public Library in Oak Square, Brighton hosted the show, co-sponsored by the UNESCO/UNITWIN Network on Gender, Culture and Development that I manage at Boston University Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program, and by Unbound Visual Arts. Brandeis University's Women's Studies Research Center, especially its Student-Scholar Partnership Program, also helped support our research.

At left, we see my photograph of a village woman demonstrating her numeracy skills in the 1970s, alongside a women's group leader, then women celebrating a day's lucrative work after a multi-functional machine they manage was introduced this past decade to lighten their food processing tasks. The United Nations Development Programme and UNESCO funded this work with the Government. At right is Lavanya Madabusi who now lives in Brighton and worked with us at BU. The Art Gallery space of our Oak Square Faneuil Branch Library is a learning hub dynamically managed by Librarian Dorothy Keller in this unique Art Deco building. Pictured, from left to right: Brenda Gael McSweeney and Lavanya Madabusi." Exhibition catalog designed by Ronni Komarow here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Aminata Kiello Features in the Occasional Paper Series of BU/WGS!

UNESCO/UNITWIN headquartered at Boston University's Women's and Gender Studies (WGS) Program just published research of Aminata Salamata Kiello of Burkina Faso in our Occasional Paper Series. The author examines the gendered impact of historical to modern-day slavery in several countries in West Africa. Her paper highlights the stigmas of modern-day slavery, particularly for women, who are subjugated within the family structure and society at large, and who may be subject to a gender-specific form of slavery known as wahaya. Championing empowerment through education and cultural pride, Kiello argues that combatting the economic, social, and psychological determinants of slavery is key to West African development overall. 

Ami's paper, originally in French entitled Héritage de la réduction en esclavage sur les hommes et les femmes, was summarized in English by Cassandra Fox. Both can be accessed here: More on the story at: 

Author Aminata Salamata Kiello
Photos by/© Brenda Gael McSweeney

Friday, June 5, 2015

Hot off the Press: New Publication in Moore!

We're delighted to share that thanks to John Hutchison, Professor Emeritus at Boston University's African Studies Center, and his colleague, writer and publisher Adama Jacques Sibalo of Burkina Faso, a first publication in Moore on women's empowerment in Burkina is available in our UNESCO/UNITWIN collection! Moore is an official language in Burkina Faso, and Adama has published a series of books in Moore since 2002. The article that he translated in June 2015 is "Burkina's Women Shape Progress" by Brenda Gael McSweeney and Scholastique Kompaoré (the French version called Les femmes du Burkina façonnent le progrès was translated from the English by Tshali Kabanga Charlie). 

Here's the link to the publication in Moore, translated by Adama Jacques Sibalo:

Adama Jacques Sibalo
Adama's own journey is a fascinating one: below is a feature on him that appears in The African Language Materials Archive (ALMA) at Michigan State University, of which John Hutchison is Coordinator.

"Adama Jacques Sibalo was born in 1975 in the Sissilé Department of Kiembara in the province of Sourou in Burkina Faso. He did not get the chance to attend school. From 1985-87 he benefited from a literacy course in his maternal language, Moore, in Kiembara. Later he took a literacy course in French in Zaba and in Tougan in the province of Sourou. He later attended primary school in Kiembara and obtained his Certificate of Elementary Primary Studies in two years. Then he spent two years in the Private College Apolline KY of Tougan. Lacking the means and without support, he abandoned school in 1994 and went to Ouagadougou. In love with his maternal language, empassioned by culture, and full of compassion for those who are illiterate, he taught himself further. In 2002 he published his first book intitled : Tõnd zabrã ka be ne ninsaal ye. Then in 2006 he published Mam ba yir soalma, and then in 2008 his book entitled Soalmâ kôta yam." From 

Strengthened by all of these experiences, Adama decided to commit himself to producing literature in the French language to benefit Burkinabe culture. His recent works include several collections of Burkinabe stories and legends called "Moonlight" and a volume entitled "The Good Choice."

Dr. Carrie Preston and Dr. Brenda Gael McSweeney, Co-Coordinators of the UNESCO/UNITWIN Network on Gender, Culture & Development headquartered at Boston University, are thrilled to announce this additional interdisciplinary dimension of their collaboration, since this inaugural publication in Moore brings together BU's Women's & Gender Studies, BU's African Studies, Michigan State University's focus on "literature and literacy in the languages of Africa", and notably the special talents of Adama Jacques Sibalo of Burkina Faso. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Burkina Faso's Women feature in "Visual Interchange: The Context of Community" Exhibition of Unbound Visual Arts!

Exciting news: photographs of women leaders and community activists from Burkina Faso are portrayed in a new UVA exhibition recently launched at Athan’s Gallery in Brookline, Massachusetts. The exhibit, entitled “Visual Interchange: The Context of Community” explores the ways in which pieces of art, when viewed together, can affect the way we perceive each work. Like the communities we thoughtfully build in our daily lives, a community of art builds bridges between artists and viewers, while enriching perspectives.

This exhibit will then be "traveling" to the new Harvard Allston Education Portal.

Here are the entries from Burkina Faso, Community, Then and Community, Now:

Community, Then: In the privacy of her courtyard in the 1970s, a West African female leader shares community concerns with Mrs. Scholastique Kompaoré, National Coordinator of the UNESCO Women's Education Project, Burkina Faso             
(9x12 B&W film photo: by/© Brenda Gael McSweeney, mid-70s)

Community, Now: Three decades later, a women's group in West Africa's Burkina Faso meets in public to celebrate progress in community livelihoods and female literacy

(9x12 digital color photo:by/© Brenda Gael McSweeney, 2007)

Artists: the Exhibition features members of the UVA Board of Directors and Council of Advisors: Tsun Ming Chmielinski, Susan Loomis, Francis Gardino, Ruth Rieffanaugh, Brenda Gael McSweeney and Sarah Berry, and UVA member Sarah Smigliani.

                             Painting image: Tsun Ming Chmielinski, Family Time, Sumi-e

UVA's Guest Curator Julia Ryan

Exhibition statement at:

Visit UVA’s Exhibition at:
1621 Beacon St., Brookline, Massachusetts
Washington Square
Open 8:00 am - 11:00 pm daily

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