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On the advent of International Women’s Day, Global Shapers, Dhaka Hub undertook “InvisiBellas” – a street-art project to shed light on the social position of women – on 5th and 6th March, 2016. The theme was a tribute to everyday heroines who are overlooked, unheard, uncounted and spoken for. With this project, the Dhaka Hub of Global Shapers aimed to applaud and praise these women, encourage people to raise voices against violators and perpetrators and to break the wall of restrictive social norms with the very essence of the feminine – creative force.
An underprivileged part of the city – Notunbazar – was aptly selected as the venue for this street art project, as women of such areas are more often repressed than their counterparts in more wealthy echelons of the city. For real change to happen people from all walks of life must be involved, and as such, the work took place out on an open street to bring these concerns to public attention, to as wide an audience as possible.
The 15 participating artists selected a number of gender issues, including the neglect of household help, the unappreciated role of female Garo beauticians, objectification and vulgar portrayal of women in the film industry, enforced silence that women are expected to accept, child marriage and the docile and unappreciated image of the mother.
Community engagement was an integral element of the project, with the artists engaging local residents and commuters, explaining to them the various underlying themes and issues the paintings depict, and encouraging the community people to share their opinions and experiences. “Thank you for doing this. I loved being here and watching the paintings,” said Razia Sultana Esha, a grade 7 student from a local school who was one of the most animated and engaged community members in the project.
Through the project, the Dhaka Hub aims to create a positive movement towards building a society that celebrates instead of disregards, empowers instead of belittles, praises instead of insults women. Ultimately, a society where women are able to think and speak freely is a society that will progress.
The official launch of the event was on 19th March 2016 at the Bengal Art Lounge. The event has been made possible by the generous support of Bengal Foundation, Edward M. Kennedy Center and Tredexcel Graphics Ltd.