Using art to amplify marginalized voices in extractives sector governance

GRA has evolved as an organization, so too have our methods to get our advocacy across. More recently, we have tried to find active and participatory ways to get experiences and voices of women and other marginalized groups in the extractives sector heard. We would like to share a recent initiative that aims to help women and other marginalized groups living in communities where extraction projects are taking place to find their voice through artistic expression. We wanted to offer something different as we all adjust to changes in our working and personal lives. Hopefully, you will be able to use this resource as a little bit of light relief from the current troubles and discover something new.

To reach this goal, in August, we had the opportunity to host a two-day workshop were We invited a local artist and a groups of women, youth, people with disabilities and other marginalized groups to engage in a collective construction of their broader contexts and think about their role in creating better conditions and thinking more productively about meaningful solutions. The workshop created space for the women to reflect and voice their opinions and concerns about natural resource governance issues and how they affect them, attribute responsibility for existing problems, and see how they would like to see them change. The engagement allowed us to generate issues and concerns from the participants themselves.

With the help of a local artist, women created a composite portrait of their diverse perspectives and experiences. We structured the drawing activity to be a memorable way for the women to actively think about their communities, analyze and reflect on their own experiences using a "medium" that is well relatable. As the process progressed, it becomes clear that both the process and output (portrait) were yielding fascinating and significant insight into their experiences.

The picture highlights women's perspectives that they are not just passive spectators but can be active "changers." The portrait situates the need for women's empowerment and gender equality in the context of a broader momentum to step up efforts to integrate artisanal miners into the formal economy- a position long held by GRA.

These results demonstrate what processes involved in producing artist expressions can reveal very different interpretations and details. We are increasingly recognizing the importance of interacting with those on the ground to implement effective programming.

More importantly, its shown us that these communities are full of enterprising women with achievements behind them and the potential to achieve more. The portrait lays bear the desire of women to enhance their opportunities. As we learned more from them and learned to look through their eyes, it was a reminder that we see very little at first sight, perhaps because we only notice the obvious or preconception about what we will find or are only there to look for what we want.