Women’s Rights in Arts: Training for Art Educators
Get Close to Opera project, with its research phase, presents an elaborated overview of the training needs of opera/art educators, cultural mediators and artists who work with learners coming from different socio-cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Based on research results, each project partner focuses on different aspects of these needs. European Network of Migrant Women (ENoMW) has been committed to prepare a training module to provide opera/art educators and cultural mediators with a sustainable way to embed women’s rights perspective and intercultural competence into their teaching methodologies and practical activities.
The aim of the training module developed by ENoMW is to strengthen the knowledge and skills of educators and help them create a teaching framework prioritising women’s rights. Art educators, first of all, will be informed about basic concepts related to women’s rights and feminism, developed by the international women’s rights scholars and activists. Through a series of participatory exercises, trainers will explore how gender roles and expectations are socially constructed and how they intersect with other factors such as age, ethnicity, race, class, culture and religion. The main theme of this first part is to explore and explain the universal historic struggle for women’s rights and to tease out the problems that might arise in case art education lacks a women’s rights-based approach.
The training, furthermore, seeks to unite art education together with feminism in both philosophical and practical aspects. Historically a male-dominated field, art can be a tool in representing women as problematic, normalising violence against women, and reproducing gender biases against female artists and women in general. On the other hand, it can be a powerful mechanism to represent feminist perspective and women’s point of view about their bodies and personal experiences. It also can help us understand the power relationship between women and men, as well as among other groups, such as ethnic minorities/migrants and society’s majority. To exemplify this, participants will be provided with stories of women’s struggle and empowerment from around the world through the arts.
ENoMW will also address the difference between cultural relativism and (inter)cultural sensitivity to assist art educators in improving their knowledge about the importance of acknowledging the universality of human/women rights standards to fight against the challenges to women’s rights in every field, including art. Making such a differentiation is crucial for educators working with learners from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. It helps educators not to confuse cultural relativism with cultural diversity and (inter)cultural sensitivity. The former rejects some aspects of universal human/women rights and supports subjectivity of moral actions depending on cultures in different societies, while the latter refers to the co-existence of difference in language, lifestyle, religion, ethnicity and traditions and recognition of these differences in society to maximise mutual communication and cohesion between different groups.
In addition, one phase of the training will specifically focus on informed consent since ENoMW believes that educators working with all women learners, including migrant, refuge and ethnic minority women, should base their methodology on the solid understanding of informed consent. Participants will be provided with the knowledge about the importance of giving learners space to explain their specific needs and express their feelings and understanding their personal stories and problems. This aspect of the training is specifically important for female participants in art sessions, as society often misconstrues women’s expressing their feelings as ‘deviant’ or ‘inauthentic’ and generally sanctions women speaking up publicly. Furthermore, the training will also refer to challenging and sensitive aspects of art education, including nudity and guide art educators to handle these situations.
The last part of the training will be based on understanding specific needs of migrant, refugee and ethnic minority women and girls. This part is substantial particularly for art educators working with women/girls from different ethnic backgrounds. Get Close to Opera research results show that educators might have problems about being familiar with needs and desires of their learners. Therefore, this training will examine multiple and overlapping factors -e.g. age, ethnicity, economic/legal/family status, sexual orientation, religious practice, experience of violence- shaping personal stories of ethnic minority women learners. ENoMW trainers will facilitate understanding of these traumatic experiences in different phases of migration. To be able to use art as a trauma therapy, art educators should be aware of the challenging history and continuing difficulties migrant/refugee women cope with. Then they can formalise a space where women/girls feel comfortable and enjoy the freedom to express themselves without the fear of judgement, away from stress and trauma.
ENoMW will wrap up the training session with a ‘to do- not to do list’ for art educators. The aim of the list is to summarise all important points addressed during training. Art educators, furthermore, can always go back to this list when they encounter challenges while working with migrant, refugee and ethnic minority women.
Get Close to Opera is going to run a training week in February 2019 about Opera through #multipleintelligences #womenrights #disabilities and #immigrantinclusion. It will take place in the beautiful UNESCO city of Matera, in the south of Italy, that will be the European Capital of Culture in 2019. Participate in our Training Week!