FIGHTING GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE (GBV) through art has been a tool long used by artists all over the world and Rwandan artists have already adopted the method of tackling such issues using their talents. According to a study, art, especially music, can effectively mitigate GBV. It fares well as a form of both protest and activism, and it can also be used to honour the voices of the survivors of GBV, demonstrate solidarity with victims of GBV, as well as fight against endemic gender-based injustice. In Rwanda, young talented artists like Jean Pierre Kwizera took the first step to use different forms of art in creating awareness and educating the community about GBV. Kwizera is the brains behind IMBONIZARWO, a youth-led Non-Government Organization that is aiming to fight GBV unwanted pregnancy among teenagers and promoting peace through art. Imbonizarwo was created as a club in 2014 at the University of Rwanda with the overall objective of harnessing acquired academic knowledge and competences to empower communities across the country. The group that comprises singers, band, movie actors and actresses as well as theater players, in 2021 released a song titled ‘Wimuroha’ that aims to fight against unwanted pregnancy among teenagers. We decided to make this song because GBV, mostly among young girls, was becoming too much especially during this Covid-19 pandemic,” Kwizera said, in his recent interview with The New Times. We focused on the law that punishes whoever commits sex offence to an underage girl, letting them all know the consequences that affect them, the teen mother as well as the entire Rwandan family at large,” he added. Through their project themed interconnecting generations through shared peace experience and learning from each other” the group has reached over 75,000 youth and teenagers in high schools, universities and influenced youth leaders in seven Districts and educated them on peace building. Their band consists of 6 boys and 3 girls who all studied music professionally at Nyundo Music School. Another artist, Abdul Rwigema, who is one of the best muralists and visual artists in Rwanda is on a mission to use his talent to honour women’s resilience. As the world celebrated the international Women’s Day on March 8, Rwigema and Shingiro Ntigurirwa, used their talents to paint some of the issues that women face in their daily lives and showcased the portraits in a long-week art exhibition. Dubbed ‘Umugore w'Umusazi’ (Mad Woman), the exhibition aimed to address different challenges, including violence against women, mental health struggles that they face caused by pressure society puts on them, as well as problems that they face in marriages. “The whole idea came from our childhood stories. Back in 1998, I perceived women in miniskirts as sex workers because that’s what society told us. Now that I see women in a different image, I am using my art to create awareness that women are more than what meets the eye,” Rwigema says, explaining what inspired him to advocate for women using art. One of the untitled paintings displayed at the art exhibition is Rwigema’s 80 cm portrait of a woman carrying a basket full of fruits with the caption “Women who appear less feminine or reject advances from men are lesbians”, a misunderstanding he wants society to fix. Miss Shanel, one of the first females to join the Rwandan music industry, is also using her voice and talent to tackle gender-based violence, as well as advocating for women’s rights and other issues. Previously she did a song ‘Atura’ and a social media campaign, encouraging people to speak up against gender-based violence, and as a result, people opened up and told their stories while others managed to leave toxic relationships they were stuck in for a long time. “I think that’s what we are here to serve. Even if it was one person that was able to leave a toxic relationship, or who was able to say what happened to them for the first time, getting it off their chest, gives me strength and makes me feel like what I do is meaningful and makes me want to continue,” The 35-year-old singer and actress recently told The New Times. Her upcoming extended Play (EP) is also about women’s place in society and their freedom of expression. In 2017, Mashirika Performing Arts also entered a partnership with International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People (ASSITEJ-Sweden), a Swedish-based organisation, to develop a project aimed at fighting gender-based violence through theatre and arts. “GBV is a common issue in Rwanda and Sweden. So we are here to share experiences and discuss how we can use our theatre skills to contribute to fighting GBV in our respective countries. We are trying to learn from each other’s experience because we need to draw a similar-oriented serial drama,” said Hope Azeda, the managing director of Mashirika. This year, during the Ubumuntu Arts Festival, plays about global topics such as police brutality, the refugee crisis, and gender violence, among other issues the world faces today, were showcased at the festival that was held in Kigali from July 14 to 17.