SYNW from Nigera Interviews Woman Scream Founder

 

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WOMAN SCREAM FESTIVAL’S PROJECTS ENCOURAGE WOMEN TO WRITE, TO CREATE, TO SHOWCASE THEIR TALENTS AND  CHANGE THE WORLD USING ART – JAEL URIBE - WOMAN SCREAM FESTIVAL FOUNDER

 

Jael Uribe is a writer, storyteller, poet and painter. She is the creator of the female poetic foundation named Women Poets International. She is considered the initiator of the Woman Scream International Poetry and Arts Festival, a chain of events celebrated by poets, artists and cultural associations worldwide, to honor women and against women violence during the month of March. In this Interview with Wole Adedoyin, President, Nigerian Chapter of the International Human Rights Art Festival (IHRAF), she shared with him some facts surrounding her life, art activism and literary career.

 

WA: YOU ARE THE FOUNDER OF THE WOMEN POETS INTERNATIONAL MOVEMENT, WHAT ACTUALLY LED TO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE MOVEMENT?

 

 

JU: It was my own personal quest to find talented women writers all over the world that were using words as a healing process. Being confined in bed, years ago, due to illness and using poetry as a means to exorcise pain, I developed curiosity and started to seek for those female writers that were dealing with similar processes and that were sharing their poetry online seeking for an audience, just like me.

 

First, I created a page on Facebook to share these talented women's work. Then, I started making poetry calls and contests, then we made our first anthology. What was meant to be just a page, became a movement due to the great support of women that joined in Europe and Latin America. Then we reached abroad when we created the Festival Grito de Mujer (Woman Scream Festival), a place where all these women that became part of the movement, could emerge as cultural leaders and coordinators of their own physical poetry events, serving as platform to showcase female talented poetess on their own cities, instead of just one page.

 

 

 

WA: HOW IS THE WOMEN POETS INTERNATIONAL MOVEMENT USING ART AND POETRY TO ADVANCE WOMEN DEVELOPMENT IN THE WORLD?

 

 

JU: In 2011, we created the Woman Scream Festival not only as an open door to women poets but also, as an event with a sense of cause and a social mission beyond our own personal interests to become the voice of abused and mistreated women and families destroyed due to domestic violence. We decided to educate and advocate through arts. Instead of just making a poetry reading, we chose to communicate and deliver a message to those in moments of need: Women with low self-esteem, women of talent who didn’t really realize their own inner value. We encouraged them to write, to create, to show themselves, to speak up, as well as helping on their international promotion through our collective projects. We have also incorporated through Woman Scream Festival all genders and all arts, as means to target a bigger audience. In time men and children were incorporated in the cause, making our work more inclusive, reaching all other communities.

 

We believe only by uniting, we can reach the violence’s free society we seek for, especially the one affecting women, girls and families all over the world. We welcome anyone with any special talent to support the cause in any way they can and to help us spread our message further.  

 

 

Sharing poetry with girls of poor communities in Santo Domingo, DR

 

 

WA: WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST HIGHLIGHT OF THE WOMEN POETS INTERNATIONAL MOVEMENT?

 

 

JU: The Woman Scream Festival (Grito de Mujer) is our pride and joy. Being recognized by the world, awarded internationally and having been able to share our vision with people in around 70 countries, celebrating over 1,000 events worldwide, uniting volunteers and institutions in solidarity with our cause, has been the most amazing achievement we have ever conquered so far. We are coming for more!

 

 

WA: TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AND EXPERIENCE IN WOMEN ART AND POETRY?

 

 

JU: I’ve been writing since I was 10 years old. Motivated by long hours reading the books my father kept on his many bookshelves. I never knew what poetry was all about, until I encountered it at school, then decided to take it seriously before graduating from college. I began getting involved in cultural events a few years after I began creating my projects and ever since, poetry has been the only language I know. I have achieved some poetry awards and recognition for my involvement in human rights advocacy through the projects I’ve developed. There is very little time to create when you get involved so much to help others find their expression, however, poetry has always been my drawing board and so has art.

 

Having faced a very hard transition to adulthood, poetry saved my life “literally”, shaped the harsh, rebel and dark young girl I was and turned her into a Phoenix. That was exactly the type of experiences and expression I started looking for when I found my movement, getting to know women who were creating due to traumatic experiences and turning them into any form of art.  I wasn’t in contact with female arts or poetry before that, I was facing my own personal process of understanding my own poetry and my own artistic expression as a designer, painter and artisan.

 

The work of women in poetry came later on, after I began to work with the Women Poets International Movement. I met women in arts two years later, after I started Grito de Mujer (Woman Scream Festival). Being a leader and creator of such a movement, gave me the impulse to improve and become a better poet and moreover, a better artist as I encouraged other women to do the same.

 

 

 

WS first international meeting, Madrid 2016

 

 

WA: WHERE IS ART AND POETRY TODAY IN TERMS OF WOMEN DEVELOPMENT?

 

 

JU: There’s so much we have achieved as women in arts and poetry compared to the past! but I certainly believe it's still not enough. The path of women in any stage of society has been literally paved by the blood of those who fought and gave their lives to make these changes happen and I feel women haven’t yet taken full advantage of the enormous space there is, men are still ahead and they are usually the most on any list. Until we reach at least half of the names highlighted not due to a quote but, as fruit of our talents, there will still be a lot we’ll need to do. I admit there is more openness of space for female expression nowadays, thanks to feminist movements such as mine but, the women names reaching an international level of recognition in art, poetry or any other, are still too little to consider. It’s time to change that!

 

 

 WA:  HAS THE SITUATION OF WOMEN CHANGED USING ART?

 

 

JU: If you mean by change, that women have achieved anything by expression themselves using art, I must say: YES! We haven’t changed as many laws as we should, we haven’t stopped women violence nor have changed the mind of abusive men but hey! How many sleeping consciences have we awakened? How many women have been saved? How many deaf hears have we unclogged ever since we all began screaming louder? We have made a difference in the world, and I mean all female movement around the globe making pressure to make this change occur. Yes, we have opened our eyes. Yes, we have regained self-esteem, respect and we have moved some important walls and yes, there is much more we can and will achieve if we remain united raising our voices.

 

 

WA:  IN WHAT WAY IS THE WOMEN POETS INTERNATIONAL MOVEMENT CONTRIBUTING TO THE GROWTH OF WOMEN DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA?

 

 

JU: The same way we have done for women in every country we take our mission: this is an opportunity! We open an international door through collective projects but it’s up to women to cross. Woman Scream is just a platform, it is just the base that seeks to make them strong enough to raise their voices. There are many other resources out there for women to further advance, what happens later and what they do with the support given, it’s up to them.  

 

 

 

WA: AS A FOUNDER AND PROMOTER OF WOMAN ART ACTIVISM, WHAT KINDS OF OBSTACLES DO YOU FACE?

 

 

JU: A lot. You might think it is monetary, as this cause is only sustained by volunteer’s love but no. It is the tendency to sabotage and the lack of moral support that should not exist in such a beautiful art world. Sadly, many of these obstacles are imposed by women themselves, those we seek to reach. We do this to add a little more to the feminist fight around the world, to open a space in art for women of talent to grown, to be known however, we’ve encountered women sabotage each other sometimes, diminishing their own sisters, who only want to build their own path to shine. How can we grow, seek for equality and change, if we dig a hole for other women to fall as we walk the freedom path?

 

Sometimes, we find more support in men that are part of our cause and more resistance among our own womankind. It’s sad! That behavior only draws all female movements advances back.

 

 

Tour to Mirabal's Sisters homeland. Salcedo DR (2015)

 

 

 

WA: WHAT HAS BEEN THE HALLMARK OF YOUR TENURE AS THE FOUNDER OF THE WOMEN POETS INTERNATIONAL MOVEMENT?

 

 

JU: I believe the use of modern technology into the promotion and growth of our project that began in the Dominican Republic and spread all over the world thanks to nowadays tools.

 

 

WA: YOU ARE AN EFFECTIVE FEMALE LEADER. WHAT DRIVES YOU?

 

 

JU: I believe results speak for themselves. I believe if I had inspired any other woman with my dreams to achieve hers,  that makes me an effective leader. There were only 400 women poets in our database when I began the Women Poets International Movement, now there are over 10,000 artists, women and men. We were only 200-300 followers in our Spanish fans page when we began, now there are over 20,000 plus, the thousands of followers in our festival’s pages. Our festival was only “Grito de Mujer” in Spanish in 201 now, it is translated into English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch and others (Woman Scream, Cri de Femme, Grido di Donna, Grito de Mulher, Schrei Der Frau, etc.,).

 

Not everything is about how much you make but about how much difference you can make with what you do, how many others you can inspire. What are you doing to be the change you wish to see in the world?

 

 

WA: WHAT MESSAGE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNGER WOMEN AND GIRLS?

 

 

JU: We have had many events throughout the years focusing on young women and girls. They always have been my favorites. As I have been called to share my poetry for girls on poor communities, my message to them has always been the same:

 

“Study and learn. Do not depend on a man to call you a princess nor to build a castle for you. Build your own castle, be your own queen. Don’t wait for no one to show you you’re valuable, you’re pretty and should know your own worth. We, as women have a harder job in this society, we need to be the example for those who will come after us, may our lives serve as an example of strength and courage, may others see you as the girl who conquers now, the woman she will become.”

 

 

WA: AS SOMEONE WHO HAS SUCCESSFULLY COMBINED FAMILY LIFE AND CAREER ADVANCEMENT, WHAT ARE THE KEY LESSONS YOU HAVE LEARNED?

 

 

JU: -I have learned that nothing is easy: Even to convince your family that what you’re doing benefits them too it's hard to achieve. I did and do my part to predicate my example of courage and fight in spite of rough times.

 

 

-Nothing comes for granted: I have fought hard to conquer everything I have set as a goal for me and still wonder what’s next for me.

 

-Never stop and never remove your eyes from your goal: No matter how cloudy the sky might seem, stars are there, no matter if you can’t see them.

 

-Love yourself: Never stop believing.

 

 

 

Woman Scream 2020, New York (10th Anniversary)

 

 

 

WA: WHAT DOES THE WORD FEMINIST MEAN TO YOU?

 

 

JU: It is just a word. I’m a womanist, I believe in the fight for our rights as women and I believe no word should define who we are but women. Some words are vandalized by the minds of those who seek to put us down, those who think we haven’t earned our place so far. I am a woman, I guess I’m more drawn to that word.

 

 

 

WA: WHAT IN YOUR LIFE HAS BROUGHT OR GIVEN YOU THE GREATEST SATISFACTION OR FULFILLMENT?

 

 

JU: Knowing that I’ve achieved most everything I wanted in life and conquered old fears. Being proud of being me!

 

 

 

WA:  LOOKING BACK, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY? WHAT WOULD YOU DO AGAIN?

 

 

JU: I would have stopped worrying for unimportant things, paying less attention to those who tried to stop me and at that, at some point threatened to stop me from advancing in my goals.

 

If I have to sacrifice myself to build what I’ve built, like I’ve done all these years, I would have done it again!,

 

 

 

WA: WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE CULTURAL HEROINES? WHAT APPEALS TO YOU ABOUT THEM?

 

JU: Any feminine figure that throughout history has conquered a better place for us women, is my favorite heroine. I believe the role in society of all of them has been key to reach the spot in which we are now. It is hard to pick a side!

 

Recognition by the New York State Assembly, March 2020

 

 

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