Singapore ranks 55th out of 135 in the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index, said Dr. Kanwajit Solin, head of a UN women body in Singapore, adding that much work needed to be done to bridge the gap.
She spoke at the “Illustrators for Gender Equality” art exhibition held at the Arts House on Friday, March 8. Sponsored by the Embassy of Spain and inaugurated by Spanish Ambassador Mr. Federico Palomera, it featured 36 cartoons from different cultural backgrounds. Ultimately, the art and the speakers conveyed one message: gender equality is about acknowledging that men and women are different yet they are both fully entitled to equal rights.
Celebrating International Women’s Day, the show was launched in Singapore and Spain at the same time. So while it opened at 7pm here in Singapore, it was simultaneously inaugurated in Spain where it was 12 noon. This further internationalised the event showing that the issue of gender equality transcends all borders and must be addressed as a global community.
Calling herself a “bra-burning feminist”, Ms Soin described the crucial role of women in our modern day society but also the power of art to help address gender inequality. Similarly, Mr. Palomera stated that women are the most precious resource in an economy, more valuable then any mineral or amount of oil.
Artists featured in the exhibition included Tayo (Nigeria), Elena Ospina (Colombia), Dario Castillejos (Mexico) and Miel (Singapore). One cartoon by a Kenyan artist, Victor Ndula, depicted a woman in a rural environment carrying a pile of sticks along with the international gender symbol for women on her back. Some felt that it signified the burden of being a woman that comes along with life’s other struggles.
Many guests described the art as ‘refreshing’ and ‘thought-provoking.’ One such guest felt that ‘the exhibition should have been more publicised to raise even more awareness of the issue.’ Majority agreed that it was an effective way of addressing the issue because as one guest put it, “after leaving this exhibition, there’ll be one piece of art that will stay with you.”