Breaking Barriers and Redefining Advocacy Through Art
Over the past two years, we have established an organisation here at Bangkok Patana School called the ‘Dragonfly Teen Initiative’. This initiative strives to use artistic media of expression as a way to socially advocate issues around women and gender inequality. We are a subsidiary of the Dragonfly360 organisation, an Asia-wide platform designed to mobilise society towards gender equality through provocative storytelling, panel discussions and art installations.
This year, the ‘Dragonfly Teen Initiative’ decided to create a campaign entitled #EDUCATIONISMYVOICE, a conceptual photo exhibition, where each of the 6 photos we have created takes you through the story of a teenage pregnancy and the dire consequences this has. Inspired by Thailand’s teen pregnancy epidemic, the objectification of women and gravitation towards victim blaming, this contemporary representation of a life story is one that we have amalgamated from months of research into real life stories, statistics and trends. We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to meet with activist Sunitha Krishnan, founder of Prajwala, an Indian rescue and rehabilitation organisation helping women and child victims of sex trafficking. After a heavy afternoon listening to Sunitha’s personal experiences of sexual assault, and how these experiences shape the way she fights on the front line of the human trafficking epidemic, we were given the fuel to fight even harder for those who have been silenced.
Each photo in our campaign comes with a short caption that acts like a guided narrative through this story. Liberating from conventional means of artistic expression, our six photos delineate the unspoken stages and publicly unknown consequences of a girl’s pregnancy – how her freedom, rights and opportunities have been replaced with responsibilities, burdens and tribulations.
Constructing each image with careful consideration of colour, composition and light, we strive to raise awareness and socially advocate bodily autonomy and reproductive health rights for women, especially shining light on how decisions about women’s bodies are usually made without their consent. Our education at Bangkok Patana School has given us the innate desire to spread the power of learning, especially to our sisters whose voices are lost in the broken system we call society. Not anymore, we say.
Visual Artist of the Year
In July of this year, #EDUCATIONISMYVOICE earned prestigious recognition as the ‘Visual Artist of the Year’ from UN Women, after competing in the ‘Youth Voices for Generation Equality’ competition, in which we became a finalist.
#EDUCATIONISMYVOICE is not just art. It is a holistic experience where we provide audiences with thought-provoking imagery and symbolism that shifts perspectives and creates various interpretations of art in its rawest and most meaningful form. It is a powerful, evocative presentation of an issue so prevalent in our society, a society that we believe can be proof that every woman can, and has started achieving, great things.
We are part of a world full of passionate, driven changemakers – at its core lies the entitlement of every person to the equitable pursuit of their dreams and aspirations. The girl in our story is walking the path that 1.5 million Thai girls have walked before her over the past decade. We pledge to let her be the voice and image who will not be silenced any longer.