The Consulate General of Sweden, Mumbai in collaboration with Red Dot Foundation, Swedish Institute, and Genusfotografen organized a digital workshop at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2021 on how one can use ‘Art and Photography’ to break gender stereotypes and barriers and further promote a gender-equal approach in their communities and societies. 

Amid the pandemic, the famed Kala Ghoda Arts Festival went digital to host a workshop to educate people on the use of art and photography to subvert gender stereotypes. Jointly organised by the Consulate General of Sweden, Red Dot Foundation, Swedish Institute and Genusfotografen, the workshop witnessed virtual participation from over 70 people.

While we continue to raise our voices and challenge designated roles and representation of men and women, can art and photography be used as a medium?

Anna Lekvall, Consul General of Sweden in Mumbai said, “for Sweden, working towards a gender-equal world is part of our core engagement. Too many women and men are held back by biases, social norms and expectations. The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival was an opportunity for us to partner with Red Dot Foundation for the third year to engage on equality issues. Together, we engaged with the Swedish Institute and Genusfotografen this year, using art and photography to discuss and look at gender stereotypes from new perspectives. Local initiatives are encouraged to address the gender gap and will continue our engagement toward gender equality.”

Supreet K Singh, Director & CEO of Safecity said, “as Red Dot Foundation, we work on the intersection of gender, technology and urbanism, and a big part of our conversation revolves around using art to confront gender stereotypes and social labels. For the last few years, we have worked very closely with the Swedish consulate on promoting gender equality. Talking about the two subjects we are so passionate about is always a delight and we have enjoyed exploring new ways to pass on the message to the audience. When I spoke to KGAF this year, I was unsure if they would hold the festival at all due to the unprecedented times we are living in, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear that they were very much hosting the festival, albeit digitally. That’s how we started thinking of an online workshop on gender and art. Youth and children have always been our focus and this was a chance to curate ways of challenging stereotypes through the lens of art and photography and we jumped at the opportunity. Rest just followed with a lot of brainstorming on keeping it interactive, gripping and informative all at once, and things fell in place. We decided that between me, Anna and gender photographer Tomas Gunnarson would create an exciting rendition of the reality that we live within and how art can be used to promote gender equality. Initially, everyone was a little skeptical about how it would do, as we were calling it a workshop and in real it was a one-way dialogue so to say. But once we put the whole script together, it was powerful and highly gripping as a 40-minute toolkit. I did feel that little flutter in the stomach before we went live at 10 am but 10 minutes into the show, we had more than 70 people in the audience and 75 percent of them interacted through the chatbox. After that, the video has gone online on the KGAF YouTube channel and we are seeing traction for sure. So I feel the response was good and we are looking forward to promoting it amongst schools and colleges for a wider reach.”

Tomas Gunnarsson,Gender photographer from Sweden said, “as a gender photographer, my goal is to reveal and challenge society’s limiting gender roles and mass media’s outdated gender stereotypes. We’re surrounded by images that tell us what a normal or “real” man or woman is supposed to look and act like, and even what you should become professionally, depending on your gender. So instead of pouring more cement on these stale stereotypes, I try in many ways to tickle our imagination around who we can become and to remind us that we can create our own rules.”


About Red Dot Foundation (SafeCity)

The Red Dot Foundation Group works at the intersection of gender, technology, data and urban planning and Safecity is its flagship program. Safecity is a platform that crowdsources personal stories of sexual harassment and abuse in public spaces. This data which maybe anonymous, gets aggregated as hot spots on a map indicating trends at a local level. The idea is to make this data useful for individuals, local communities and local administration to identify factors that causes behavior that leads to violence and work on strategies for solutions. Red Dot Foundation aims to make cities safer by encouraging equal access to public spaces for everyone especially women, through the use of crowdsourced data and technology.

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About Consulate General of Sweden, Mumbai

The Consulate General of Sweden will aid to develop good and broad relations between Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa and Sweden. The Consulate is engaged in a wide variety of activities to promote Swedish produces, investments in Sweden, exchange in research and higher education, cultural exchange as well as tourism.

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