Celebrating Women in Arts

Looks from the “Power Compilation 2020” collection by fashion designer Ritha Angel. / Looks from the collection “Power Compilation 2020” by fashion designer Ritha Angel. Pictures: Eloi Junior.

German version below

At the international event "Celebrating Women in Arts", artists from Burundi, Rwanda and Germany spoke about what the pandemic means for their creativity.

Cheers to women in art: new creative paths to life in times of pandemic

“Artists live in a space that hasn’t even been created yet,” is how Debbie Smith put it at the online exchange “Cheers to women in art: new creative ways of life in times of the pandemic”. The event with German, Burundian and Rwandan artists took place to celebrate International Women's Day on March 8, 2021 and was hosted by Developmental Education Information Center (EPiZ) and the Baden-Württemberg Development Cooperation Foundation (SEZ). The exchange, moderated by Divine Umulisa, aimed to give women in the arts a platform to talk about their work, their experiences and their coping strategies for the Covid-19 pandemic. When artists spoke for the music Debby Smith(Germany) and Esther Niyifasha (Rwanda), for fashion Ritha Angel (Burundi) and for painting Jemima Kakizi(Rwanda) and Kelly Nkurikiye (Burundi).

Even though they are often severely tested by questions about age, environment, gender and parents, it is precisely these topics that often serve as motivation to become creative. Esther shatters glass ceilings as she is one of only two women in Rwanda who plays her music on an inanga. The inanga is a traditional musical instrument that is mostly only played by men. Ritha, who is only 19 years old, has been working as a renowned fashion designer in Burundi for four years - despite all claims that she is too young to build her own business. The most important finding of the evening was that the artists are able to recreate themselves precisely because of their current experiences in the Covid-19 pandemic. So they use this time to think on the one hand, but also to create new things on the other. Jemima said she used the time to create designs for T-shirts and hoodies. Kelly learned to sew during the pandemic.

“Humanity and love – these are the two messages of my music,” says the artist Esther. Humanity and love were also the basis of the entire evening. As an inspiring and self-empowering exchange, the event brought artists and art enthusiasts together in a virtual space. There, people from all over the world came a little closer together and experienced a feeling of belonging - even though the pandemic so often keeps us at a distance. The evening will also be particularly remembered because it provided a space in which great women from diverse artistic backgrounds were celebrated and new networks were formed.

Celebrating Women in Arts: Creative New Ways of Living during the Pandemic

“Artists live in a space that is not yet created,” said Debbie Smith during the online exchange 'Celebrating women in arts: Creative ways of living during the pandemic' between German, Burundian and Rwandan artists as part of the March 8, 2021 International Women's Day celebration. The purpose of the exchange, organized by Developmental Education Information Center (EPiZ) and Stiftung Development Cooperation Baden-Württemberg (SEZ) and moderated by Divine Umulisa, was to provide a platform for women in the arts to talk about their work, their experiences and how they overcome challenges, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. The artists present were from the field of music, such as Debby Smith (Germany) and Esther Niyifasha (Rwanda), from the field of fashion Ritha Angel (Burundi) and from the field of painting Jemima Kakizi (Rwanda) and Kelly Nkurikiye (Burundi).

The age, the environment, the gender and the parents are the challenges they face, but they also serve as a motivation to create. Esther is shattering glass ceilings, for she is one of only two women in Rwanda who play their music on the Inanga, a traditional music instrument that is usually played by men only. At only 19, Ritha has become a renowned fashion designer in Burundi for four years, dismantling claims that she is too young to start her own business. The biggest revelation of the evening was their ability to recreate themselves, because of what they are experiencing during the Covid-19 pandemic. On the one hand, this time is used to reflect and rethink, but on the other hand it is also used to recreate. Jemima shared that she started working with prints on T-shirts and hoodies during this time, as did Kelly who started to learn how to sew during the pandemic.

As Esther mentioned during the exchange: “Humanity and love are the two messages behind my music”. Humanity and love were also the reason behind this exchange. The inspiring and powerful exchange was an opportunity to gather artists and appreciators of arts together to create a 'virtual' room, that brings people from around the world closer together and provide a feeling of togetherness, despite the distance the pandemic is creating. Most importantly, it was a room for networking and celebrating women, who are excelling in different art fields.

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