The Power and Influence of Girls: The World in Your Hands Art Contest

Girls around the world have something to say, and now it’s our turn to listen. Whether we’re discussing gender inequality, discrimination, or violence, it is clear that girls can provide critical insights, opinions, and nuanced perspectives on these issues, if we only provide them with a forum throu

For the second annual World in Your Hands Art Contest, Together for Girls and the Coalition for Adolescent Girls asked female artists ages 12-24 about their influences, how they themselves strive to influence others, and how they use their voice and influence to make the world a better place.Applicants from ten different countries around the world submitted creative and inspiring pieces in a variety of mediums ranging from poetry to painting. Featured below is the winning piece by Lauren, and each of the pieces by the runner-ups Shafiqah, Sophia, Jessica, and Aye Aye, as well as descriptions by each of the artists about their beautiful work. This year’s contest winners hail from Thailand, Myanmar, and the United States.

My work of art is a graphite self-portrait that focuses on how past experiences and people have influenced the person that I am today. Each part of the piece has a symbolic meaning that creates the overarching theme that an individual cannot grow or exist without external influences, much like how trees receive nutrients, protection, and sustenance from its surroundings and interact with the life forms around them. In general, individuals are not only contained within themselves but also exposed to the network of society. The entanglement of the roots in this work represents my interactions with others and also symbolizes that this network of influences has truly become my roots: they have constructed my core beliefs and values, behavior, and personality. As these roots grow and extend into the tree branches that make up my face and continue to grow past my portrait, this represents how I hope to and am using my voice to advocate for what I believe in, such as fighting gender inequalities and discrimination.
And so, in full circle, I believe that those who care about me – my family, friends, and teachers/advisors, as well as those who have brought me down and taught me to find strength in myself, have and continue to influence who I am, including my roots of morals. I have and will persist in using my voice to advocate against what I believe is wrong in society.
“Unexplained Feeling” by Shafiqah, age 15

My artwork is about how we as adolescent girls should not be ashamed of ourselves or our appearance. The important thing we should do is change the world mentality and fight for our ideas that show young girls can create great things based on arts, science, technology and anything else. Sometimes we have to create our imagination and sets goal so that we can prevent negative thinking of ourselves and make ourselves feel happy every day. If our young girls succeed, don’t ever give negative vibes to them because of jealousy but congratulate them.