How Art Is Helping Women Raise Their Voices Against Violence


Though the Philippines leads in certain aspects of gender equality and women’s rights—more companies, for example, install females in leadership roles—there is still much to be done to celebrate, uplift, and protect women in the country.

The Chilling Statistics on Domestic Violence  

To remind you about what lies beneath the veil, Avon Philippines gathers chilling statistics about domestic violence: According to a 2017 National Demographic Health Survey from the Philippine Statistics Authority, one in four Filipino women has experienced abuse by their partner. A report by the Center for Women’s Resources in 2020 shows that “at least one woman or child is abused every 10 minutes in the country.” Still another 2020 report from the Philippine National Police records 4,260 cases of violence against women and children during the quarantine.

'Untitled 1' by Cru Camara

Photo by courtesy of Avon.

Put another way, a mother, wife, daughter, sister, grandmother, girlfriend, aunt, or niece is being subjected to violence more often than you think. For this reason and in celebration of Women’s Month, the local arm of the global beauty giant centers its new campaign on the fight against domestic abuse. 


Speaking Out and Loud Through Art 

To speak out against violence, Avon channels the power of art into the #SpeakOut Collective, a virtual exhibit of 14 paintings and prints by 10 female artists. “In many times, art is better than words to communicate feelings and messages that are very powerful,” says Razvan Diratian, general manager of Avon Philippines, in an afternoon Zoom call with Esquire Philippines.  

'I’ve Been There' by Tyang Karyel

Photo by courtesy of Avon.

'Internal Reflections II' by Tammy De Roca

Photo by courtesy of Avon.
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The infinite interpretations of a painted picture speak clearer—and louder—about reality than, say, a cold number blinking on a tiny screen. In the set, the petrified eyeball of “I’ve Been There” by Tyang Karel or the dark congregation of creeping clouds in “Internal Reflections II” by Tammy De Roca may denote the terror of abuse, while the painterly blues in “Healing” by Bea Policarpio can point to what can happen after.

Or it can mean something else for you. The point is it made you think, feel, and, with hope, do something about the problem.

'Divine Feminine' by Bea Policarpio

Photo by courtesy of Avon.

“For Avon, it's important to speak about this issue and, more than that, collect funds for shelters and organizations,” adds Diratian about the project’s other component. Apart from revealing realities, #SpeakOut raises funds for four women’s organizations through the auction of its artworks.


Starting on March 19, these pieces, as well as works by Denise Heredia, Nicole Concepcion, Ciane Xavier, Gabby Prado, Cru Camara, Mara Fabella, Bea Policarpio, and Bree Johnson, can be purchased by casting bids on the #SpeakOut page on On the same day, to fete the opening of the exhibit, musicians Kiana V and Peaceful Gemini will also perform during a Facebook Live event. 


Supporting Women’s Causes and Organization

Diratian points out that domestic violence happens everywhere and so the company makes sure that help reaches more women living in different parts of the country. According to Avon, the auction’s proceeds will go to the Women’s Care Center Inc. in Manila, Ing Makababaying Aksyon Foundation in Pampanga, Luna Legal Resource Center for Women and Children in Davao, and Gender Watch Against Violence and Exploitation in Dumaguete.

'When Everything Stops' by Ciane Xavier 

Photo by courtesy of Avon.

Avon, a longtime ally of women’s causes, has been helping various organizations throughout the years. Last year, to support women and children, the Avon Foundation for Women donated $1 million to frontline services, and in the Philippines, it donated almost P5 million to partner NGOs.

But help doesn’t always have to be a grand gift. Avon Philippines takes care of its own house, implementing programs that support its female associates, of which there are many as the local hub boasts a 70-percent female workforce. 

'Muse by the Window' by Nicole Concepcion

Photo by courtesy of Avon.

According to Diratian, the company offers extra flexible work arrangements to help women manage their children’s homeschooling. Avon has also partnered with a professional organization that offers round-the-clock counseling to care for mental health. 

Celebrating the Strength of Women

When asked about the women he looks up to, Diratian mentions the many leaders of Avon, including CEO Angela Cretu, who has been guiding the company through these strange times. But even before singing praises of the big boss, he highlights his wife, Ileana. “I have full admiration for her,” Diratian says, adding how he recognizes the great difficulty of managing home life because of the pandemic.  


The leader of Avon Philippines knows that women have a strong capacity for multi-tasking. “I really admire the way they can balance family, career, friends, personal life, and well-being,” he muses. One other thing he recognizes is the optimism of women, something he has observed around the world. “It's always a privilege to learn and work with women,” Diratian adds. 

'Both War and Woman' by Denise Heredia

Photo by courtesy of Avon.

Indeed, women have been holding things together, companies and homes alike, through the many shocks of this great upheaval. And one way to thank them—your wife, mother, sister, daughter—for keeping you sane and bringing a smile to your face is by raising your voices in support of their protection against violence. 

The #SpeakOut Collective exhibit goes live on on March 19.  Avon will host a Facebook Live event on the same day at 6 p.m. 


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Clifford Olanday
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