The UN 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign aimed at addressing gender-based violence and promoting respect and fair treatment of women. From a Gaudiya Vaishnava perspective, the campaign emphasizes the importance of treating all individuals with respect and recognizing their inherent worth, regardless of material circumstances such as gender. In Bhagavad Gita 12.15, Krishna identifies those qualities that endear one to Him, including one who does not cause any distress to any other living entities. Srila Prabhupada often emphasized the principle of treating all individuals with the utmost respect and recognizing their importance in family, society, and Krishna’s service.
The ISKCON Vaishnavi Ministry is organizing an initiative aligned with the UN 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence from November 25th to December 10th. Through this campaign, the ISKCON Vaishnavi Ministry aims to create safer families and communities within ISKCON for women by engaging in discussions that emphasize the underlying principles of equity within Gaudiya Vaishnava teachings. This year’s campaign theme is “Safe Families, Strong Communities.” The objective is to raise awareness about the essentiality of treating women within ISKCON with respect, dignity, and equality. Abuse in any form is an offense to the Vaishnavis and Srila Prabhupada. Therefore, there is a need to raise awareness about what constitutes abuse and how to create a culture of protection within our communities.
For this purpose, the ISKCON Vaishnavi Ministry is inviting Vaishnavis to contribute in the areas of visual art, performance art, photography, poetry, and spoken word. Art can be a powerful tool to raise awareness about an issue because it can engage emotions, capture attention, and convey messages in a thought-provoking manner. In essence, art has the potential to evoke emotions, challenge perceptions, and inspire action, making it an effective tool for raising awareness about various issues in society. Vaishnavi artists can bring people together through collaborative projects that involve the community. By involving individuals directly affected by the issue, artists allow their voices to be heard and empower them to express themselves artistically. This approach raises awareness and empowers communities, leading to meaningful change.
We interviewed Karuna-Sakti Devi Dasi, who explained how Vaishnavi artists’ participation can help reach a wider audience. She said, “All talents and abilities are gifts from Krishna. Including various art forms offers Vaishnavis the opportunity to showcase their Krishna-given talents and empower other Vaishnavis to do the same. Art often uses symbols and metaphors to convey complex ideas or emotions. By incorporating powerful symbols within their artworks, artists can draw attention to the issue and spark curiosity among viewers. These symbols can serve as a visual language that communicates the essence of the problem while inviting viewers to reflect upon its significance.”
She continued, “With the proliferation of social media and digital platforms, artists can reach vast audiences quickly. Artists can leverage these platforms to share their work, initiate discussions, and spread awareness about an issue. Such virtual exhibitions, videos, or digital campaigns can go viral, bringing significant attention to the cause.”
Karuna-Sakti added, “Art can tell stories visually, creating a narrative that grabs the viewer’s attention and fosters empathy toward the issue at hand. Sometimes, shock value is employed to jolt audiences out of complacency and make them confront the issue head-on. Artists may create confronting and provocative works to elicit a strong emotional response from viewers. The point is to make people feel uncomfortable, thus encouraging them to investigate the issue further.”
If you are interested in contributing to this campaign, then kindly submit the following along with samples of your previous work:
- Name and contact information (email, phone number)
- Brief artist biography outlining your experience and artistic background. (If you have it, it would be great to see this, but it is not essential if you don’t)
- Description or proposal of your envisioned artwork(s) and its intended message for the campaign
- Portfolio or examples of your previous artwork (links to an online portfolio are welcome; if you have this, it would be nice to see, but it is not essential if you don’t)
- Estimated timeline for completing your artwork in case your proposal is selected
Please submit your proposal and supporting documents to email@example.com by October 1, 2023.
For further queries or concerns, email the ISKCON Vaishnavi Ministry at firstname.lastname@example.org
To hear a 15-video playlist from last year’s campaign, click here.