As we look forward to the 6th annual DVF Awards this April, we’ll be sharing updates from some of our prior honorees on how their work has evolved since receiving The DVF Award.
2012 Vital Voices honoree Panmela Castro uses graffiti as a tool for spreading information. In 2006, when domestic violence law was established in her native Brazil, Panmela and her fellow artists used graffiti art to spread the knowledge to women in favelas who would not otherwise be aware of the new legal protections. The organization she founded, Rede NAMI, focuses on addressing gender inequality through art. She recently participated in the Barnard College Global Symposia Series.
Tell us about your DVF Awards experience.
Sometimes we isolate ourselves in our communities and wonder if the works we develop really make any change. When I received the news about the award, it gave me power to continue because someone was telling me that it was really important work. It moved me.
How has your organization evolved since 2012?
Before the awards, me and the urban artists who were doing this work with me, we knew that we were doing something important, but for society, we looked like “teenagers making art.” When Diane supported our work it told the world: “Hey people, these girls are really promoting change.” It was incredible because it changed completely the way people see us. And I am talking not just about the respect the award gave to the group. In practical terms, Rede NAMI was an informal organization and we became one of the most featured women’s rights NGOs in Rio de Janeiro. With all the structure, we could expand our work and make the possibility of bigger change. We got more and more people, companies and foundations supporting our work. I can say that we took the opportunity that DVF Award gave to us, we made ourselves better and now we are no longer “just the teenagers.” We grew.
What goals are you working towards next? What challenges must you overcome?
This month, finally, we approved in Brazil a law that makes the femicide a ediondo crime [the new law sets tougher penalties for the killing of women and girls]. But even with the laws working to change the position of women in our society, we need more transformation. We need a cultural shift. For this, in 2015 we are promoting the formation of a group of 32 women from different communities and professional areas that want to specialize in the street art culture. We will use this new group to start a new project of workshops where graffiti is a tool for promoting women’s rights. The focus of the new program coming in 2016 is to make women identify the violence in their lives, then make them not accept it anymore, and then, make them a promoter of this transformation.
For more information and to learn how you can help, visit http://www.redenami.com.