2020 UNESCO National Art Competitions For Young Nigerian

The National Art Competition under the theme of “Sheroes” is specially designed by UNESCO Abuja under the European Union (EU)-United Nations (UN) Spotlight Initiative in Nigeria: To eliminate violence against women and girls.

The Human Development Report 2016 ranks Nigeria 118 out of 134 countries on the Gender Equality Index. This translates an unbalanced inclusion of women and girls’ perspectives in policy-making decisions, resource allocation and implementation in economic and social sectors, all of which increases challenges to the advancement of gender equality. The negative social and cultural norms that condone or perpetuate Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) and Harmful Practices (HPs) remain pervasive.

According to the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) 2013, about 30% of women aged 15-49 have reported experiences of sexual abuse, with a marked divide between urban (33%) and rural (24%) areas. It is also estimated in the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2016-2017 that 23 million girls and women were engaged in child marriages and about 25% of women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation.

This situation is worsen in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, the risk of VAWG may be in the rise due to several complementary factors, such as the increased isolation of potential victims due to social distancing and quarantine, a shift in priorities among frontline services including rule of law and health facilities, and a possible shift in resources allocation, for example through the repurposing of shelters for health facilities.

The Outcome 4: Services of the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative that encourages using sports, arts and other creative mechanisms to support the long-term recovery of VAWG/Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV)/HP victims and survivors, is therefore to provide response to the above-mentioned gender inequality challenges. In this regard, UNESCO specially designs a national art competition under the theme of “Sheroes”.

This competition is aimed at raising awareness about VAWG/SGBV/HP among the public, and to support the zero-tolerance-of-violence environment promoted by the Spotlight Initiative, with a view to support long-term recovery and social inclusion of women and girl survivors through arts and with an additional effect of relieving the increasing social tension exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To be more concrete, this competition calls for two categories of artworks: painting and poetry, representing attitudes, visions, expressions and messages against VAWG/SGBV/HP and/or demonstrating the contributions and resilience of women and girls within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The selected artworks must demonstrate deep visual and spiritual experience of the author on the issue of VAWG/SGBV/HP and equally inspire the audience.

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Phases and Tentative Schedules

This competition consists of three phases:

Phase I: Registration and Shortlisting

All the complete and qualified entries will be reviewed and rated by a Committee composed of at least five experts from international agencies, relevant ministries, CSOs addressing VAWG/SGBV/HP, academia and media. Twenty (20) finalists of each artwork categories (painting and poetry) will be selected out based on judging criteria for participating in the second phase. Particular attention will be given to female submissions.


Phase II: Social Media Campaign

The finalists will be convened through the official communication channels of UNESCO Abuja Office for a one-week public voting. The ultimate ranking of the finalists will be determined by the combination of the average score rated by the selection committee (60%) and the amount of votes received (40%).


Phase III: Exhibitions

A webinar will be organized to affirm and further discuss the power of art against VAWG/SGBV/HP as well as to announce the winners of this national art competition. The top 3 winners of each artwork categories will be invited to share their stories behind the artwork creation. All the finalists plus some other outstanding artworks in the competition selected by the Committee will be exhibited online and will be possibly used in communication and advocacy materials of the Spotlight Initiative.

Tentative Competition Schedule

  • S/N


    Date (Year 2020)


    Launch of the competition, initiation of the submission channel, and dissemination of Competition Guidelines and Rules

    August 21 – Sept. 30


    Closure of submission

    5 p.m. of Sept. 30 (Abuja Time)


    Notify 20 finalists of each artwork categories by the selection committee

    Oct. 23


    Initiation of public voting for the finalist artworks

    Oct. 26


    Closure of public voting

    Nov. 2


    Ethical examination of public voting

    Nov. 3 – Nov. 9


    Webinar for announcement of winners

    The Week of Nov. 16


    Delivery of finalist artworks to UNESCO Abuja Office

    Nov. – Dec.


    Award-giving to the top 10 of each artwork categories

    Nov. – Dec.


    Launch of online exhibition


Guideline and Rules


This competition is open to all the residents in Nigeria between August 21st and December 31st, 2020. Women, girls and persons living with disabilities are strongly encouraged to participate.


Submission of Entries

  • The deadline for all entries is 5:00 p.m., 30 September 2020 (Abuja Time).
  • The entry shall be submitted through https://forms.gle/ebqvudTZM59z9mi67, appropriately filled. (This may require you to sign in or create your Google account to fill in the submission form. Should you encounter any difficulty in submission, please feel free to contact Bin Chen at b.chen@unesco.org(link sends e-mail) for support.)
  • Each participant may submit a single artwork, which shall be sent in its final form, in the electronic format (.pdf, .png, .jpg, or .doc) and colorful mode as well as aligned with the requirements (not more than 10 MB).
  • Only the finalists and some other outstanding artworks selected by the selection committee will be contacted and required to deliver their original (physical) artworks to UNESCO Abuja, and this cost of delivery will be covered by UNESCO Abuja.


Important Basic Rules

  • Participants are advised to carefully read and follow the competition guideline and rules.
  • Entries from both individuals and collective groups are acceptable, but a collaborative group will be considered as one participant while reviewing and prizing. Participants shall enroll in their private and personal capacity and shall not be acting on behalf of any organization, governmental or non-governmental, corporate or private entities.
  • Entries within the framework of this competition certifies and warrants that his/her/their artwork does not violate the rights of a third party and/or any copyright.
  • By submitting their artwork, the participant authorize UNESCO and Spotlight Initiative to use the same for purpose of public information, including but not limited to publish the results of the competition in the spoken, written, and/or electronic media – with the name of the creator(s), to exhibit or publish any of the submitted artworks anywhere in the world, as well as to use them to support documentation and awareness raising materials, such as calendar, dairies, and other publications related to the Spotlight Initiative, including dedicated websites.


Twenty (20) finalists of each artwork categories (painting and poetry) will be shortlisted for public voting, which is to further identify the top 10.

Top 1:

Laptop + Winning Certificate

Top 2-3:

Smart Phone + Winning Certificate

Top 4-10:

Mystery Gift Box + Winning Certificate

All the participants will be awarded with a electronic participation certificate.

Deadline: 30 September, 2020

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