It is not an exaggeration to say that throughout our lifetimes, we as women have been stripped of our power and our self-worth by the various social constructs around us. This has consequently left women vulnerable and more susceptible to violence. Similarly women’s voices have often been silenced. This silence has hindered women from expressing ourselves, and we, thereby ignore our own desires and accept others’ needs as our own. Generally we as women are not taught to verbalize our feelings; thus we may not be aware that we even have a ‘voice’ or a right to express what we need and want. At Sakhi we are committed to bringing out these suppressed voices. We are invested in helping women express what has been silenced and in the process help to regain our sense of worth.
This summer Sakhi launched an arts and empowerment group. The group is designed to help women find their voices and exert their hidden power. Through creating a safe and nonjudgmental space, participating women undergo the process of self reflection as they deeply analyze the roles they currently have and those that they wish to take on in their daily lives. Women mutually share their thoughts about the social factors and cultural beliefs that impede equilibrium between themselves and the outside world. In bringing to light social ills and gender specific roles, women become aware of the issues that limit their success. Women are empowered as they translate their fears, strengths, wisdom, and vulnerability through art. As they engage in artistic activities, their compassion, beauty and wonder, are fully demonstrated. Through their artistic creations, women can attain psychological and emotional validation as art allows for a different way to express and empower themselves.
During the workshops, as women bring to light some of their experiences and struggles, there are deep connections being made. Although participants come from diverse age groups, ethnicities and cultures, a lot of commonalities are present. For example, the women in the group agree that as women we are an under-privileged population and are many times more at risk of being isolated and challenged by traditional values. The Arts and Empowerment group therefore fosters the process of empowerment by allowing women to see themselves and the change they wish to create in their lives and their communities.
The group has thus far served as a creative outlet and a source of personal empowerment for all its members. During the last few weeks, women have shared inspirational stories and poems that have revealed their strength and resilience. Aside from helping amplify their voices, we want women to begin asking the question, “Who am I?” We already know that women are survivors but through this group process we hope to help them celebrate their lives as ‘women’ and to voice their power through art.
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