In Mirzoeff’s chapter 7 of “How to see the world”, we are shown that art and activism goes hand in hand to create some of the most powerful and moving messages to society and the world. From this chapter I chose the topic of illegal child marriages.
Throughout my research I found that in countries such as India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Morocco, Pakistan,Niger, Chad, Mali, Guinea, South Sudan, Burkina Faso, Malawi, Mozambique, – with the 8 having the highest percentages of child marriage according to Unicef. Girls and women are considered a lower value and are traded as they are considered a form of currency – they are not individuals but essentially ‘money’. Furthermore factors that fuel child marriages include, poverty, gender inequality, cultures and traditions, insecurity and lack of education.
These child marriages are not only awful to the girls and women but have severe impacts on the societies that allow them.Stopping child marriages would allow for a lot more development in critical areas and it would be very beneficial to all.There are so many social, cultural and economical impacts of resolving this issue that some people may not be aware of.
Social – The gender inequality would dramatically reduce and women would not be undervalued and traded as currency but respected as men are. Therefore equality across genders would be balanced and socially able and capable society would form.
Cultural – The cultures and traditions that have long existed are outdated however it will be affected in a positive way if this was to stop as women would not have to suffer and would build a much more positive gender friendly culture and society.
Economic – Women and young girls would have a chance to get an education, qualifications and work, therefore contributing to the local and national economy as more workers are available.
As a 21st century citizen of the global world, I have noticed ethics and empathy has become increasingly more visualised and people have become more vocal about their opinions. As Mirzoeff stated in chapter 7, the Michael Brown case sparked a national outcry and protests and visual activism exploded around the country. Like the mentioned case, the citizens of the 21st century show they do care and that they can instigate change. Much like this case, child marriages need to protested and voiced out so as a world society, we can bring about change.
My own creative project reflects Mirzoeff’s ideas of ‘visual thinking’ and ‘visual activism’. My ‘Artivisism’ ( artist and activist) came up with a poster that while simple in design, was effective in communicating a message. I didn’t want any overly complicated components to overpower my main message of comparing the two girls of how they were going to spend the rest of their childhood – one lives a normal life that a child should and enjoys her childhood. The other is a victim of child marriage and does not even have a childhood. I wanted to highlight and capture the difference between these two children and show hope swell as hopelessness.
This piece is to highlight the difference between “normal” children and young girls who face child marriage and their futures that lie ahead of them. One has a bright and clear future, while the other has a bleak ending. (Representative of the young child brides that often attempt to end their lives)
The activist I have also taken some inspiration from is Prakhar Jain who started the White Bindi project – a group whose aim and focus is to raise funds and spread awareness of the illegal child marriages occurring across the globe. This campaign of his with his fellow colleagues took photos of real life child brides and visually spreads awareness of this ongoing issue.
As global citizens of the world, we should all be thinking about this great injustice against women and children as it emphasis how some countries and cultures still place a lower value on the female gender. It is relevant to everyone as it reflect that while our world society has evolved far from the olden days of massive gender inequality, it still goes on despite the era of the 21st century. We must protest this through our collective voices and as Unicef says ” together we can end child marriage”.
“If we can end child marriage, we can change the lives of girls everywhere and help them to enjoy their childhoods; enrol them in school; protect them from complicated pregnancies and births. We can keep girls safe. And as we do all of this, we help break the cycle of intergenerational poverty… We must galvanise political commitment and dedicate resources for girls to realise their rights and fulfil their potential. Together we can end child marriage”. – executive directors of UNICEF, UNFPA and UN Women (International Day of the Girl 2012)
Works cited/ references
Mirzoeff, Nicholas. “Afterword: Visual Activism”. How to See the World. London: Pelican, 2015. 287-298. Print.
Gorney, Cynthia. “Too Young to Wed.” National Geographic 2011: n. pag. Print.
Bicker, Jack. “Too Young to Wed – the Secret Life of Child Brides.” Fairplanet.org. N.p., 8 June 2013. Web.
“About Child Marriages.” Girls Not Brides.org. N.p., n.d. Web.
Documenting Child Marriage for Over a Decade-and Still Going.” PROOF. N.p., 2015. Web.
India – Child Marriage Around The World. Girls Not Brides.” Girls Not Brides. N.p., n.d. Web.
Pande, Manisha. “A Young Trio Uses 39,000 White Bindis as a Powerful Idiom against Child Marriage | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis.” Dna. N.p., 2014. Web
Olson. Carol.”The Pixel Project’s “16 For 16″ Campaign.” The Pixel Projects 16 For 16 Campaign. N.p., n.d. Web.
Lemmon, Gayle Tzemach. The Daily Beast. Newsweek/Daily Beast, n.d. Web
“Child Bride in Yemen Dies of Internal Bleeding on Wedding Night: Activist.” Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 2013. Web.
“11-year-old Bride Sets Herself on Fire to Avoid Marriage – Articles – Easy Weddings.” Articles. N.p., 2014. Web.