Rappers, poets and musicians from across Asia, Africa and Latin America are playing in a global jam session called the “Say Enough Cypher” with original poems and songs aimed at transforming the attitudes, beliefs and social norms that fuel violence against women and girls.
One woman in three will experience physical or sexual violence in her lifetime. While there is no single cause, recent Oxfam research shows that one of the strongest and most consistent factor are the widely-held social norms that uphold male dominance and control over women’s bodies and lives.
During this year’s 16 days of activism, a global moment focused on eliminating violence against women and girls that runs from 25 November to 10 December, we are going challenge and change these tired and dangerous beliefs and norms, with a little help from some amazing poets and rappers.
Rebeca Lane, a feminist rapper from Guatemala sings a catchy tune of defiance and inspiration with the lyrics "Siempre viva, como mala hierba" or “Always alive like persistent weeds” in response to misogyny and discrimination.
Ghanaian hip hop star Ko-Jo Cue addresses the role that men and boys can play in his piece while poet and comedienne Yursa Amjad puts a feminist spin on the popular children’s tale Red Riding Hood in exposing how societies can often protect perpetrators.
Talahib People’s Music, a world music band from The Philippines, rallies social movements and women human rights defenders with an ode to the Babaylan, the pre-colonial female mystical healers who were warriors, healers, priestesses and sages.
The core message is the same.
Rewrite the narrative around violence against women and girls.
Challenge attitudes, beliefs and social norms that dictate women must be submissive, men in control.
Change the script. One poem and song at a time.
A recent study from Oxfam on young people’s perspectives towards violence against women in Latin America and the Caribbean specifically pointed to artists and musicians as having the capacity to shift cultural narratives around gender stereotypes and violence against women.
Bethan Cansfield, Head of Oxfam’s Enough Campaign on ending violence against women and girls says, ”The songs we sing, the words we use, the images we reference, matter. They construct our world view and the impact and influence we have on other people. Music and poetry can change perspectives and we are harnessing that power with the Say Enough Cypher.”
Sabika Naqvi, a performative poet and founder of poetry on the streets movement in New Delhi says: “My tool is poetry and it is meaningless if my art doesn’t talk about fearlessness, vulnerability, fighting misogyny and violence on an everyday basis and also telling stories of women who fought it, ensured that we live better nd have access to more opportunities. We owe it those women who came before us and those who will come after us.”