This year we’re celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD) by reflecting on some of the inspiring collaborations we have supported with artists from around the world. Although the style and themes presented in these works and events varied, one thing that united them all was their joint recognition and amplification of the stories of women.
From giving a platform to women who are usually not heard, to giving wider exposure to up-and-coming artists, and providing safe spaces for conversation and connection between like-minded creatives, these projects all succeeded in helping share women’s stories across the globe.
Recent highlights have included:
- Harmful Practices exhibition (Nepal/UK): Audiences were invited to discover the stories of women who are usually unheard of through the photography of Nepalese artist Sonam Choekyi Lama, who collaborated with curator Beth Troakes on this moving collection of images. This exhibition was part of Women of the World Nepal, shined an uncompromising light on some of the hardships faced by women, yet the impact was uplifting and focused as much on the strength and understanding of these women as it did on their circumstances.
- THIS IS WHO WE ARE Festival (Australia/UK): Artists, producers and creatives of colour from heritages including African and Caribbean, First Nations, West, South & South East Asian all came together in this transformative event that addressed a wide range of topics and issues spanning social justice, creativity, culture and more.
- Language is a Queer Thing (India/UK): This one-of-a-kind collaboration explored themes including sexuality, the idea of home and the inherent struggle to the personal stories of the community and the history of the LGBTQIA+ movement by presenting work by three queer British poets alongside the work of three queer Indian poets. The poems were published in an anthology at the BBC Contains Strong Language Festival in Birmingham, as part of the British Council’s India/UK Together, a Season of Culture. This project was presented by India/UK Together, a Season of Culture, in collaboration with the Verve Poetry Festival, The Queer Muslim Project and the BBC Contains Strong Language.
- Stand-Up for the World: Comedy Workshop Series (Pakistan/UK): Women were given a platform to talk about topics that concern them in an entertaining way in this series of collaborative comedy writing workshops, hosted by Dr Natalie Diddams and designed to help more women get into comedy in Pakistan. Participants were encouraged to create their own material and then perform it live at Club 432 in Karachi.
- Culture Assets and Vernacular Materials (Malaysia/UK): This year-long project shined a light on sustainability challenges and craft activities in communities across Borneo and included activities such as the "Serumpun: Crafts Across Borders” exhibition. The exhibit featured the intricate work of bead maker Rasmah Rumambai from the town of Keningau in Sabah, Malaysia who has subsequently been given land to set up a gallery/community craft centre.
- Voice of Baceprot x Women of World (Indonesia/UK): Groundbreaking all-female, hijab-wearing metal punk band Voice of Baceprot teamed up with WOW for a London performance that gave them exposure to a wider audience and allowed them an opportunity to create new and exciting work.
- Crafting Happiness (Thailand/UK): Creative practitioners from Scotland and Thailand came together to put a spotlight on the link between craft-making and well-being in this inspiring story-driven event that unfolded across three Zoom meetings with live translation. Sharing a passion for creativity, as well as interest in the natural environment, these 20 makers helped to develop this growing network, now in its second year.
- Chạm (Viet Nam/UK): Audiences from around the world were brought together for very special event hosted by artists Linh Hà and Esther Swift that celebrated the playful and messy beauty of improvisation. The culmination of six months of work, the virtual gathering featured a performance by Hà and Swift, as well as a chance for the audience to take part in the fun – and proved physical distance and isolation is no barrier to connection.
- Short Film Project for Female Directors (China/UK): Five filmmakers were invited to tell their stories cinematically in this exciting project designed to encourage and support emerging women filmmakers in China. The final works were premiered at the One International Women’s Film Festival in Chengdu, China and at the Encounters Film Festival in the UK.
- Khiyo at Women of the World Bangladesh (Bangladesh/UK): This innovative festival featured many talented artists and performers – including popular British/Bangladeshi band Khiyo, who were thrilled to do their first ever performance in Bangladesh as part of the event, as well as hosting an interactive workshop.