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Women’s rights correspond to universal human rights enshrined in international treaties and declarations. But too often, these rights are harder to access or claim for girls and women due to a structural gender-based discrimination against women in societies. Moreover, the specificities of women are not always taken into account when applying such rights.
The women’s rights movement continues today its long battle to achieve the universality of human rights and fill the gap between men and women in their ability to claim their rights, fighting for gender equality, against gender-related discrimination & stigma.

The feminist thought developed through the last few centuries in different “waves” to face the condition of oppression, mistreatment and marginalisation of women by men but also to challenge pre-conceived roles for women and men both in the private and public spheres.
One of the most important thinkers who worked extensively on feminism is French philosopher and writer Simone de Beauvoir whose work “Le Deuxième Sexe” inspired classics of feminist political theory such as Kate Millet’s “Sexual Politics” and was a cornerstone of the so-called second-wave feminism. Another aspect that is being increasingly incorporated in the women’s rights movement is that of intersectional feminism, an approach bringing together the viewpoints of those experiencing intersecting forms of discrimination and oppression, in order to understand the depths of the inequalities and the relationships among them in any given context (@unwomen).

Countless are the initiatives that today are carried out by women throughout the world and aspire to liberate the concept of “woman” from socio-cultural and historical stereotypes. But the battle for equality is not only a women’s fight and is only won when all genders join in standing up against gender inequality.

“Equality, and I will be free.” goes the refrain in Maya Angelou’s poem “Equality” and powerfully says it all.
On the occasion of  the International Womens Day we want to celebrate collective movements and individual actions of women in affirming women’s and human rights, including through art.

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Throughout history, women have united in protest all over the world. During the French revolution, Parisian women marched on Versailles due to bread shortages and the famine. In 1913, in Washington, D.C. the famous women suffragist parade was organised with the aim to “march in a spirit of protest against the present political organization of society, from which women are excluded.”

Historical women’s marches still inspire the fight for fairness & equality among today’s women generations. Over the last decade, women-led protests have sparked worldwide mobilizing thousands against gender violence & inequality, marginalization in the political & public life, as well as oppressive laws restricting sexual & reproductive rights.
Powerful and suggestive visual expressions have become evocative symbols of dissent and emancipation in women’s protests.  

In Poland, Barbara Kruger’s iconic poster ‘Your body is a battleground’ has gained momentum following the introduction of a near-total ban on abortion by the PiS illeberal govt in October 2020. Similarly, the red lightning bolt has become a popular symbol which in the words of its creator, the artist @olajasionowska_poster, represents “the power of women and is a warning to the government”.

In August 2020, in Minsk, Belarusian women dressed in white carrying flowers formed human chains in solidarity with protesters who fell victim to police brutality and against the fraudulent elections which reelected Lukashenka for a 6th term.

5 years after the Ni Una Menos protests against gender-based violence in Argentina (and all over Latin America), women continue to march denouncing the rise in cases of femicide and domestic abuse during the lockdowns. In Spring 2015, the Ni Una Menos slogan and collective became viral after the iconic reading marathon organised in front of the National Library of Buenos Aires. On June 3, 2015, the first mass demonstration took place in the capital denouncing the femicide of 14-year-old Chiara Paez.

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“Why have there been no great women artists?” is the provocative question Linda Nochlin (1931-2017) asked in the title of her 1971 essay. Nochlin’s powerful J’accuse against the insidious answer that “There are no great women artists because women are incapable of greatness” argues that regardless of their talent or genius “it was indeed institutionally impossible for women to achieve excellence or success on the same footing as men”.

As @camille_morineau, Founder of @awarewomenart, puts it: “If I ask someone how many women artists they know, they will probably name just a handful, whereas if I ask them to name some men artists they will name many more”.

We at MOKA promote arts and culture as drivers or enablers of significant societal change and are huge fans of this wonderful initiative, which is bringing forward the work of great women artists to make them visible to a wider audience and eventually change the answer to that question.
In our future contents we will have other opportunities to devote space to women artists and those who seek to promote their work on an equal basis as their male counterparts.