Kigali sings for a Safe City for women and girlsThe two finalists of a song competition performed before a crowd of 3,000 dignitaries and agents of change on 25 November, as Benetton’s UNHATE Foundation announced new funding to support a transformative arts-for-change project in Kigali schools.
Kigali — “Feel Free” is the title of the winning song of the “Sing Yes to Kigali City” song competition held in Rwanda on 25 November, on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
“Don’t be a bystander,” sings Umuhire Solange Liza, a 27-year-old female singer from the Kigali suburb of Kicukiro, awarded the first prize in the competition. Her song talks about dignity and respect for women in private and public spaces, and encourages change.
“As an artist, I sing about life, not just for entertainment but mainly to express myself, to advocate for those who don’t have a voice, to question attitudes and mindsets, to educate, and to change behaviour. I view my music as a channel of expression and a tool to spread positive and challenging messages. For these reasons, the theme of this competition engaged me, as an artist, a Rwandese woman, and a mother,” said Ms. Solange.
The “Sing yes to Kigali City” song competition is part of the Kigali Safe City Programme’s Community Mobilization and Public Awareness Strategy, led by the City of Kigali and UN Women in cooperation with the Benetton Group’s UNHATE Foundation, the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, Ministry of Sports and Culture, and the Rwanda Women’s Network. Launched in June 2011, the Kigali Safe City Programme aims to create a safer city through the elimination of sexual violence against women and girls in public spaces.
Gaby Umutare, a 25-year-old singer-songwriter, was awarded second place for his song “Sing yes”. His song talks about the continuum of violence, the links of the private and public spaces, and the lack of recognition of violence in public spaces: “Sexual violence against women and girls in public spaces is happening, but the public is really ignorant about it,” he says.
Both artists performed live at the 25 November event at Amahoro Petit National Stadium, before a crowd of more than 3,000 people, including women and men agents of change from Kimisagara sector – one of the main intervention sites of UN Women’s project, as well as high-level representatives from the national and local government.
“Mobilizing all people in the community is essential for success. The UN in Rwanda wants to extend [messaging] to the institutions of learning because children are the leaders of the future,” said Mr. Lamin Manneh, Resident Coordinator, One UN Rwanda. He announced the new contribution by the UNHATE Foundation to the Kigali Safe city programme, a strong and dynamic partner to Kigali Safe City. It will support a transformative arts-for-change project in schools so as to ensure that the community messaging can be taken from the stadium to schools.
The Kigali Safe City Programme is part of UN Women’s Safe Cities Global Initiative, together with another 19 cities around the world. It is the first-ever global comparative programme that develops, implements, and evaluates comprehensive approaches to prevent and respond to sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence against women and girls in public spaces.
Read the lyrics of the winning songs here »