Student Anna Maria Gehnyei Invited to Panel Discussion on Women's Rights

JCU student and artist Anna Maria Gehnyei, also known as Karima 2G, was invited to participate in a panel discussion on human rights and women’s rights called “Diritti Umani e Diritti delle Donne, incontro con Ndileka Mandela” on July 5, 2019. Alongside Anna Maria was guest speaker Ndileka Mandela, granddaughter of the anti-apartheid activist and former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela.

From left: Ndileka Mandela and Anna Maria Gehnyei

From left: Ndileka Mandela and Anna Maria Gehnyei

The panel took place at the Casa della Pace Angelo Frammartino, Rome. Casa della Pace is an organization that focuses on promoting peace, human rights, solidarity and non-violence. The panel was moderated by Antonella Pancaldi, and the other speakers were Cristina Formica, member of the executive committee of Arci Roma and coordinator of the SPRAR AIDA project in Monterotondo, Rome, Marta Bonafoni, counselor of the Lazio Region and Queen Nnodi, cultural mediator.

Ndileka Mandela is a social activist and the head of the Thembekile Mandela Foundation, whose key objective is to continue the legacy of Nelson Mandela by promoting health and education programs in rural areas. “In her presentation, Ndileka Mandela expressed her responsibility to use the enormous privilege of the name she bears to counter racism and violence against women and children” said Anna Maria.

Ndileka focuses on spreading Nelson Mandela’s message and view on human rights, but she’s particularly interested in promoting women’s rights. She believes that “women’s rights are at the center of human rights.” In the panel discussion, Ndileka stressed the importance of women coming together to bring change to society. She believes that women should be the ones to make the first step towards tackling social issues, and urged women in positions of power to lift other women up, and men to collaborate with women to bring about social change.

Italiens Cover

The Italiens Cover

In 2016, Anna Maria was invited to participate in the Better Days Festival in Milan, an event dedicated to Italian creativity and digital culture. The following year, she taught at the primary school ‘Carlo Pisacane’, in Rome’s multicultural Torpignattara neighborhood, as part of an initiative encouraging second-generation children of immigrant parents to express themselves through music. She also wrote and performed lead vocals on ‘Roots’, a song that aims at fighting contemporary slavery, recorded in collaboration with the History Channel and Amnesty International Italia.

Anna Maria recently produced a comic book called The Italiens for the course EXP 1011 Making Comics as Visual Literacy. The Italiens presents real stories about racism and discrimination towards immigrants and second-generation children. Through her art, Anna Maria seeks to help refugees identify with the stories depicted in a positive way. “The first reaction people have after reading my comic book is usually laughter,” said Anna Maria, who believes it is important not to constantly remind immigrants of the trauma they went through.

In 2018 Anna Maria released a music video for her EP “Malala”. The video was inspired by the 1966 film by Ousmane Sembène La Noire De…, the story of a young Senegalese woman who moves from Dakar, Senegal to Antibes, France to work for a rich French couple. Produced by JCU Communications Professor Tijana Mamula, the Malala’s music video reinterprets the film’s story and gives it new meaning.

In the panel, Anna Maria discussed both her comic Book The Italiens and the Malala’s video. Ndileka Mandela congratulated Anna Maria for her work and for the way she deals with sensitive issues in a positive, constructive and artistic way. “The most important thing that I took away from the panel discussion is that women who come together are capable of achieving great things,” said Anna Maria.