A worldwide project that aims to challenge stereotypes of young women

13 October 2014

A project that aims to examine young women’s future aspirations and thereby educating children in India and around the world on gender stereotypes and inequality issues.

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“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
- Maya Angelou

And Still I Rise...

CSSG in association with A New Direction is running an international project, aimed to examine young women’s future aspirations and thereby educating children in India and around the world on gender stereotypes and inequality issues.

The proposed exhibition, as part of the broader project, intends to present a selection of the letters written by young women and girls aged 14 to 18 in India and the UK on their personal hopes, dreams and aspirations for the future. These shall offer a glimpse into the mindsets and perceptions of girls from a variety of backgrounds and cultural influences.

The art of writing, at once highly personal, lends itself to outreach; it permits the writer, to verbalize through the hand-eye connection much which reverberates on other levels of consciousness, far often not expressed, if not suppressed.

A number of contemporary artists have been invited to contribute their works, reflecting similar themes of gender identity and the power of writing and book arts.

The ensuing parallels and diverse pathways of expression manifested by the two distinct groups shall forge an unspoken dialogue for the viewers of the exhibition and form a starting point for discussion and the re-examination of self-held stereotypes within a variety of workshops attached to the exhibition.

Students in the UK will have the unique chance to contribute towards a significant element of the exhibition by writing open letters to the world covering their hopes dreams and ambitions about the future.

Furthermore these letters will be shared on a wider platform to provide hope and motivation to girls globally.

The exhibition will be held at Instituto Cervantes in New Delhi, India.

What is CSSG?

The Creative Services Support Group (CSSG) is a registered charity established to aid underprivileged young adults through skills training and mentorship within the creative sectors. CSSG believes that equal opportunities should be given to people regardless of their upbringing. It aims to break down the barriers to equality of opportunity, inclusion and human rights by focusing on providing vocational training within job placements to young adults from underprivileged backgrounds.

Why we are working with A New Direction (London)?

By working with A New Direction we aim to ensure that the exhibition gains a global perspective through the letters. We aim to connect arts and education in different parts of the world and share ideas globally to create a bank of teaching tools that will enrich learning experiences for young people.

An introduction to CSSG’s 2015 project – Art Exhibition and Outreach Programme

In 2015 our charity’s focus will be on Women in the Creative Sectors, aiming to give young women a voice. Therefore, as part of the ‘Year of the Women’, CSSG in cooperation with A New Direction (London) is running an international project, aimed to talk about the future aspirations of young women and thereby educate young people in India and around the world on gender issues.

For schools in the UK this is not only an opportunity to open up the topic of gender equality and for students to reflect on their own dreams and ambitions for their future, but it will also enable them to get a unique insight into the theme of gender inequality in other parts of the world, such as India.

The importance of gender education

“… eliminating gender discrimination and empowering women are among the paramount challenges facing the world today …. When women are healthy, educated and free to take the opportunities life affords them, children thrive and countries flourish, reaping a double dividend for women and children.”
- Kofi Annan

It is essential to educate children on gender issues, as early gender bias experiences can shape their entire future and affect:

1. The development of interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships
2. Access to education equality
3. Participation in the corporate work world
4. Physical and psychological well-being

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How the Programme is run in India:

“I raise up my voice-not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard...we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.”

“Let us pick up our books and our pens,” I said. “They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”
- Malala Yousafzai

The power of the written word is known throughout history girls and young women from both India and the UK will be asked to contribute open letters to the world on their dreams and aspirations for their future. These letters will shortlisted and incorporated as the center pieces of the exhibition. These open letters will then be combined with artwork from some of the leading contemporary artists in India to form the basis of a workshop to inspire young minds to think deep about gender stereotypes and reflect on their own life and behavior.

The letters will further act as a resource bank for discussion in schools and will be shared with the participating schools in the UK to explore questions about the hopes and dreams of girls, what is holding them back and how girls’ aspirations can be achieved, as well as similarities and differences between future ambitions between girls in India and the UK.

There is a possibility that the letters will be combined to form a book.

The education outreach programme is being supported by FLOW India.

How You Can Get Involved:

We would like schools in the UK to participate in our initiative by encouraging girls to write letters about their own dreams and future ambitions and in this way contribute to a significant body of work being created in India around the central theme of aspiration. The letters will be used in an Exhibition - “And still I rise” - to showcase the power of the female voice and the opportunities that exist for them. The exhibition will be held at Instituto Cervantes.

Additionally they will form a reference bank to be used as tools for discussions on gender inequality. We will provide a report on the outcomes and impact of our project which will be shared with the participating schools as well as a lesson plan for the education programme allowing it to be implemented within the UK schools. The shortlisted letters from both India and the UK will be shared with the schools contributing to open up a discussion on gender. We are also hoping to take our Exhibition to London for Spring/Summer 2015.

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If you would like to take part please see below:

1) Students participating should be aged 14-18 years
2) The deadline for sending the letters will be the 1st of December 2014
3) The letters should be clear and legible preferably hand written
4) Letters have the option to be anonymous or if they would like to be identified then name, age and school would be required
5) The content of the letters should be specifically about their hopes, dreams and ambitions for the future and what they would like to change to achieve that. The letters should touch on each of these areas.
6) The letters should be addressed “Dear World”
7) The letters should ideally not exceed one A4 side
8) Doodles and sketches on the or around the letter are acceptable but should not form the body of the letter

Please contact anand@cssg.info for any further queries. Also see here