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Museums and the Web

An annual conference exploring the social, cultural, design, technological, economic, and organizational issues of culture, science and heritage on-line.

Economica: Women and the Global Economy

People's Choice:
2 votes

Institution: 

International Museum of Women

Designer: 

International Museum of Women / Mediatrope

Category: 

Exhibition

Why

Economica: Women and the Global Economy home page

Economica: Women and the Global Economy is a comprehensive online exhibition property created by the International Museum of Women (IMOW) which focuses on women’s diverse global roles as economic change agents and at time of worldwide economic crisis and volatility. The exhibition’s currency and timely focus inspired a sequence of aligned ‘mini exhibitions’ including a global juried photography exhibition, Economica: Picturing Power and Potential (with both an online and physical component) and Economica: Focusing on Latin America, an online exhibition complemented by multi-country events that fuses art, thought leadership and contemporary research to explore women’s current economic circumstances in Latin America. All of these Economica branded projected are presented in aggregate as a submission for the exhibitions award.

The primary Economica:Women and the Global Economy exhibition features museum curated multimedia content, including podcasts, artwork from women around the world, provocative opinion pieces from global thought leaders, and contextual essays from Economica’s curator Dr. Masum Momaya. Economica aims to explore how the globalized economy and current financial crisis are affecting women's lives and to bring women's voices and new visions to the forefront of the debate and discussion.  The stories told in Economica are designed to spark a conversation about women's economic experiences that have never been more pressing than now, in this era of global financial crisis and opportunity. The entire exhibition is available in both English and Spanish.

Screenshot of one of the Multimedia Slideshows showcased in Economica

At the heart of the Economica exhibition is a series of vibrant and evocative multimedia slide shows (sample pictured here) that tell stories of women's economic experiences in diverse countries – from the family issues facing women migrant workers in factories in China to the rise of a bold new generation of women business leaders in Qatar . These powerful visual presentations explore issues related to the core themes explored in Economica. The multimedia presentations also provide entry points for examining different economic systems and values and are paired with companion content that provides context, depth, and opportunities for visitors to take action.  

In addition to acting as an inspirational online entry-point for the online exhibition, these vibrant slideshows have been successfully presented at a range of venues and conferences as a springboard to dialogue around issues of women’s economic engagement. Venues have included TEDx Women (a sequence of over 80 global events held to accompany the TEDWomen conference), the Tides Foundation Momentum conference and at local, national and international convenings of organizations including BlackRock Global Investors, Wells Fargo and the Financial Women’s Association.

Content in Economica is organized into multiple themes that allow the viewer to participate and explore topics including micro-enterprise, business leadership, marriage, family and fertility, philanthropy, and more. Each topic is shaped and contextualized by a curator’s essay that situates the theme in a global women’s human rights framework, asks provocative questions about common economic assumptions and sign posts the viewer to learning and engagement opportunities. For example, the topic of micro-finance and enterprise is framed by a thought-provoking curatorial essay that depicts the challenges and limitations of micro-finance for women, as well as its successes and benefits.  Themes are also illuminated by commissioned and user-contributed content on each topic. Commissioned content showcases the ideas, visions and experiences of leaders in multiple countries; for example (again, on the theme of micro-enterprise) the museum showcases perspectives from the Latin American organization Pro Mujer, from Nigerian activist Hafsat Abiola and Kiva founder Jessica Jackley.

The museum also curated a powerful cross-cutting strand of commentary for the exhibition entitled ‘New Visions’. This section of the exhibition uses the backdrop of economic crisis to present new economic concepts and ideas framed though a gender lens; for example, economist Riane Eisler asks how economies would look different if women’s care-giving work was factored into measurements of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and President of Women for Women International Zainab Salbi asks why economic solutions for women always involve micro rather than macro solutions. This exhibition section enabled IMOW to elevate thought leadership within the exhibition design and push its exploration of economic questions for women into new provocative and inspirational new territory.

 Your Voices, where IMOW's Community Artwork is showcased

Economica is an interactive resource that has evolved over time as participants from the museum's online community add their comments and submit their own stories and creative work. Online visitors are invited to participate by joining the conversation in I.M.O.W.'s active online community with members from more than 200 countries. Visitors are encouraged to register, log on, and connect with exhibition themes in the community forum and to submit original essays, film, audio, and artwork, all of which is featured across the site and specifically in the Your Voices section. Examples of featured submissions included those of filmmaker Sumithra Prasanna, who wrote about her experience at The Barefoot College, an institution in India that trains African women in technology; Lili Almog, a renowned photographer who submitted her series about the economic condition of women in rural china; and Kathy LeMay, author and CEO of a fundraising organization, who shared an essay on gaining financial independence.

Continuation through “Projects of Economica”: the Picturing Power & Potential exhibition

The resonance and the timeliness of the topic of women and the global economy led IMOW to extend the exhibition through a series of related “mini-exhibitions” or Projects of Economica. The first of these was a juried exhibition called Picturing Power & Potential, which sought to celebrate women as economic participants and agents of change through photography from countries around the world. For Picturing Power & Potential, IMOW collaborated with the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery to present the exhibition both online and in a traveling physical exhibition that has been displayed at San Francisco City Hall and Mills College in Oakland, California.

Picturing Power and Potential: A Photo Celebration of Women and the Global Economy

Picturing Power & Potential includes work from photographers from Kenya to India and California to Pakistan; it features women acting as change agents through small business efforts, in leadership positions, engaging in community organization work, and striving for financial independence for their families. A multi-week Community Choice Awards ceremony resulted in Brenda Paik Sunoo’s inspiring submission, 'Jeju Grannies of the Sea,' about elderly korean women who are also sea divers, being named the Community Favorite.

Economica: Focusing on Latin America

Focusing on Latin America: A Project of Economica

In November 2011, IMOW launched a second Project of Economica called Focusing on Latin America, a bilingual (English/ Spanish) exhibition which takes a regional focus on women in Latin America as they respond to the global financial crisis.

To create Focusing on Latin America, IMOW worked with curators in each of our three focus countries: Costa Rica, Argentina, and Mexico. The curators reached out to the arts communities to help solicit engaging content that spoke directly to the contemporary economic situation of women in their country, from topics such as business leadership to domestic work, sex work to microfinance. IMOW worked with a researcher to supplement the artistic contributions with thought-leader interviews and essays from local women business leaders or scholars in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Argentina. As a supplement to the online exhibition, curators will host exhibition events, featuring the artists included in Focusing on Latin America, in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Argentina, as well as one event in San Francisco, California.

Our final Project of Economica will launch in April and is called Young Women Speaking the Economy. Young Women Speaking the Economy asks women ages 18-25 to express their hopes, concerns, and ideas around entering the global economy at a time of economic crisis through creative mediums. The women—all participants from partner colleges in the Sudan, the Phillipines, the U.S. and Denmark—will provide the artistic backbone of the exhibition through their multimedia submissions, including video, music, photography and essays.

Summary

The Economica exhibitions inject women’s voices, experiences and ideas into a contemporary conversation about the economy that too often excludes women. IMOW presents artistic, dynamic and interactive multi-media content to inspire interest in a critical topic that too often alienates audiences, especially younger women.  In aggregate these projects illuminate areas of women’s current economic experiences that simply are not visible or valued in any other cultural forum. Over 100,000 women and men from over 200 countries have engaged with the Economica exhibitions to date.