UNESCO partners with UN Women on a black women, men and youth social justice and development programme

UNESCO has embarked on a partnership with UN Women to strengthen women-and youth owned businesses in the cultural and creative industries in the Caribbean sub-region, Latin America and Africa. The programme will also highlight Afro descendant women’s role and contribution to sustainable development through cultural exchanges, knowledge sharing and movement-building.

The announcement of this initiative came as part of activities to launch UN Women’s new Global Black Women Programme where Miss Universe 2019 Zozibini Tunzi moderated a panel discussion of black women creatives, entitled ‘”Ain’t I a Woman?  Black Women, Creativity and Development”. It was sponsored by UN Women MCO-Caribbean, in collaboration with NYU Africa House, UNESCO, and the EU-funded UNESCO-Transcultura Programme.

Representative UN Women MCO Caribbean Tonni Brodber explained the goal of the new project: “We will contribute to enhancing the economic empowerment and resilience of women-and youth owned cultural and creative MSMEs through strengthened networks and opportunities for employability and entrepreneurship in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa; through strengthened digital transformation, financial management and basic and advanced digital technologies skills for women in the cultural and creative industries (including art, design, music, film, beauty) with particular focus on marginalized and economically disempowered groups.”

At UN Women and UNESCO, we felt the need to be even more intentional and imaginative about our work to recognise and promote justice and development. We developed a project with the goal being, that Afro-descendent and ethnic minority women, men and youth are empowered through greater voice and agency, and resilient livelihoods to live free from violence and discrimination.
Tonni Brodber, Representative UN Women MCO Caribbean

This partnership programme aims to harness the potential of culture and creativity to empower youth, women and men to transcend borders and build communities across the Caribbean, the African Continent and the entire African diaspora.
Saadia Sanchez-Vegas, Director and Representative of the UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean

Panellist, South African Carol Bouwer, Founder of Mbokodo Awards for Women in the Arts stressed that the world has not yet begun to understand that black women are a larger part of society whose creativity should be seen as creativity within the broader conversation of art, heritage and culture. 

Historically, we do not look at the intersection between art and the environment, the economy, society and the cultural diversity that carries communities together… Black people in particular, not just black women, we constantly have to apologize each time we come into spaces where we choose to talk about building each other. I am hoping that this healing space, this space of beauty and vibrant art will remind us that we have to be seen, we have to be able to celebrate ourselves and we have to be able to say to the world acknowledge me.
Carol Bouwer, Founder of Mbokodo Awards for Women in the Arts

Sierre Leone and Canadian filmmaker, Ngardy Conteh said there is a huge gap in opportunities for black women to thrive.

We don’t want to just to survive, we want to thrive. We have the creativity, and our creativity can only blossom when we have the space and the resources to do so. There needs to be an increase in opportunities.
Ngardy Conteh, filmmaker

UN Women also hosted  “A Force for Change”, a global art exhibition and online auction in New York City, featuring 26 women artists of African descent. Fifty percent of the proceeds will go to the artists, while the other fifty percent will support implementation of the UN Women’s Afro-descendant Women’s Programme.

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