Rede Nami is a feminist urban art network of female artists in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil that promotes women’s rights and works to end violence against women (VAW) through art. The network, an APC MDG3 Fund small grant recipient, was founded by activist and grafitti artist Panmela Castro, who has been recognised and awarded internationally for her efforts to end gender-based violence through her street art.
Panmela started Rede Nami because she felt there was a need in the communtiy for a collective of feminist artists to collaborate to reinforce the positive role of women in Brazilian society, to empower women and girls and to end VAW through their art. With the MDG3 Fund small grant, Rede Nami is training 100 girls to use information and communication technology to create a virtual library with content on VAW. They are also creating a thematic graffiti mural on the issue to raise awareness about VAW and women’s rights in Brazil with the local community and with lawmakers.
Panmela sees street art – and this project as a whole – as a way to create cultural and social change, especially when it comes to the oppression and abuse of women. The project is playing a large part in educating people about gender equality and domestic violence – subjects that are often difficult to discuss with words because of cultural taboos. The mural is serving as a discussion point, and is communicating an issue in a way that is non-threatening and in a way that the community listens. It is teaching women and girls they can be powerful within their families and communities; they can be free to be themselves. It is empowering women to stand up for their rights, for what’s theirs.
“It’s not just about putting paint on a wall,” Panmela said. “It’s about attitude… It’s a way to break the cultural stereotypes, to make people think and to show that we are free.”