Art Can Change the World

His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche's hand holds a vajra drawing lines that close the Hevajra Mandala, after the empowerment, Tharlam Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism, Boudha, Kathmandu, Nepal
Creative Commons License photo credit: Wonderlane

Art has the ability to inspire us and to move us.

Art and Social Entrepreneurship

But can art be also used as a tool for social entrepreneurship?

I believe that it can, particularly when social entrepreneurs encourage the use of art as a means of expression and education for communities regarding important societal issues.

My Experiences in Using Art as a Tool for Social Change

Yesterday, I talked about the need for female social entrepreneurship in developing countries to improve gender equality worldwide.

Interestingly, I also pointed out that gender equality should not only focus on empowering women.

Gender equality should also focus on educating men and shifting their behavioural patterns and their attitudinal mindsets with regards to gender roles.

That’s my perspective as a man myself.

Art as an Expression of a Child’s Feelings and Understandings

Yesterday, I was involved firsthand in facilitating an art competition between adolescent boys in Bangladesh for International Women’s Day.

Art for Social Entrepreneurship

We gave large sheets of paper, as well as crayons, pencils and paint for the boys. They were to draw pictures about the importance of respecting women in their community and the negative effects of gender inequalities.

I found some of the drawings quite disturbing. Some boys drew pictures of other young boys taunting girls walking to school, which is an activity that many adolescent boys do in South Asia called “eve teasing.”

Other boys drew pictures of fathers beating their wives with a stick. While other boys drew pictures of community leaders protecting women against rapists.

It was pretty heavy stuff, I must admit.

Art as a Force for Good

Art as a Means to Influence Reflections on Community Issues

Although the teenage boys did take it seriously, and I think that the whole exercise was important.

Cultural shifts to uplift the status of women especially in patriarchal societies need to start off with young boys thinking about the value of women and respecting them.

I think that a long-winded talk to the adolescent boys would be boring for them and it would lack input from them.

Art for Teaching Gender Equality for Children

Allowing them to use their creativity to express their thoughts and feelings about the current state of gender inequality in their community was more powerful in my opinion.

Art Can Change the World

Art Can Change the World

Overall, I think that using art can be very useful for social entrepreneurs, humanitarians, development specialists and social workers.

I think art is more engaging, especially for children, to show in pictures their views. Often the pictures will speak louder than words.