I don’t often get the chance to make my work in situ, but having chosen to fight it out with brambles in the name of art, I found that the best place to work was in the middle of Hampstead Heath. So I was sitting there, minding my own business, cursing as I got scratched for the hundredth time when a dog and its owner wandered over to take a look. ‘Are you making a basket’ he asked; ‘No’ I replied ‘it’s a piece about patriarchal society and their oppression of women’. At which point he looked rather confused and wandered off.
At least I was able to be outside, by myself, engaging with others as the fancy and opportunity took me. This is more than can be said for women in Taliban controlled areas. It’s horrifying to read about the depression and harm that is being caused by female enforced confinement and denial of any education beyond age 8. All in the supposed benefit of creating a ‘secure environment where the chastity and dignity of women may once again be sacrosanct’.
But it isn’t just the Taliban who see no value in women being educated beyond age 8. According to UNESCO estimates, 130 million girls between the age of 6 and 17 are out of school and 15 million girls of primary-school age will never enter a classroom. What’s taking us so long to get this right; when people like Mary Wollstonecraft was arguing as early as 1791 that women were deserving of the same fundamental rights as men and were not just ornaments to society or property to be traded in marriage?
I’m firmly outside of any ivory tower or gilded cage and will do all that I can to help anyone else who wants to be.