Global Leadership Awards
As a young woman interested in art, Panmela Castro was drawn to graffiti and its power to convey a message. Living in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro as a young woman, Panmela became immersed in the city’s dynamic art scene and began to establish her reputation as a graffiti artist. Also known by her graffiti name, Anarkia, she fully embraces the transformative power of art, using her work to raise awareness about women’s rights and to draw attention to the pervasiveness of gender-based violence.
The Maria da Penha Law on Domestic Violence against Women, a law named after a woman who was so severely beaten by her husband that she was paralyzed for life, was enacted in Brazil in 2006. The law granted legal protection for women, giving them the tools they needed to combat violence against women. Panmela recognized this as an opportunity to combine to her love for graffiti and her passion for women’s rights. Through a network of women graffiti artists, Panmela began to raise awareness about the law in the favelas of Rio, where access to information is often limited. By using her art to teach women and girls about women’s rights, and forming a strong consciousness about women’s worth, Panmela enabled and empowered those who were previously too afraid to speak up to share their stories.
In 2010, Panmela was honored by Vital Voices during the annual Global Leadership Awards, recognizing the impact of her work in advancing women’s rights. Panmela formed Rede Nami soon afterwards, an urban art network of female urban artists that addresses gender inequality through public art, graffiti and workshops in Rio. Panmela now sees her mission as transforming the roles of women in society. “Because people in Brazil think women are free, because women can be political leaders, businesswomen, etc., they think there is no problem," said Panmela. "But there are still things that need to change in the construction of society. Society still dictates the role of women and I want to work to change that and inform other women