Using Art to Encourage Change

19 December 2013
Using Art to Encourage Change


On 26 November, in recognition of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) invited 21 young students to display their paintings and photographs at the Damascus Training Centre. The exhibition, ‘Women’s Image in Art’, also included work by Palestine refugees who are currently residing at the centre, having fled the violence in Yarmouk. 

Inaugurating the exhibition, Amneh Saqer, Chief of the UNRWA Relief and Social Services programme in Syria, spoke about the role of women in contemporary society and the long-term importance of greater respect for girls and women. “We must pass on the message that domestic violence is not to be tolerated. We must create tools and strategies to end violence against women,” Ms. Saqer said.

The exhibition provided visitors with information and images that promoted the elimination of all forms of violence against women. The photos on display featured the daily life of Palestine refugee women and girls, highlighting their determination and resilience in light of the current situation and ongoing conflict. Women and girls have been exposed to unique risks and dangers both from the conflict itself, and in their displacement.

The participants, all of them between 15 and 35 years old, were present to explain their work.  Each had submitted one piece of art for the exhibition. They were given seven days to complete their work after they were told about the concept of the exhibition. On completion, 28 photographs and paintings filled an entire hall in the centre. 

“It made me excited that someone admired my work. That’s an important moment for me,” said Ahmad Tamim, a Palestine refugee who has been living in the collective shelter at the DTC since being displaced from his home in Yarmouk. 

Fifteen year-old Leen Masha’al was proud of her drawing of a woman, who despite social challenges, displacement and an uncertain future, remained strong and determined to play an important role in her community. 

Visitors congratulated the participants for the imagination, energy and thought reflected in the paintings. The artwork encouraged observers to look beyond surface appearances and experiences to discover the beauty, energy and strength of women.