It’s 2019 and this Pakistani artist is proving that kickass women should get the appreciation they rightfully deserve
Pakistan has seen a lot of extraordinary women ever since its inception – from lawyers to musicians to mountaineers and beyond, we have had it all. And so, this illustrator thought it was time to bring all of their stories together at one common format and decided to publish an illustrated book to do just that.
Meet Maliha Abidi – an artist hailing from Karachi, and currently a medical neuroscience student at the University of Sussex.
View this post on Instagram
Tell me, what does your creative space consist of? In my element. This studio is my happy place (after my living room couch, cmon! Lets be real.) It has given me inspiration to create the things I believe in for example the “Pakistan for Women” book. I remember, I always wanted my own art studio and I did have my first studio at 19 in San Francisco but it was temporary. This one is more permanent. This is a room in my house which has a big table, an easel, a few hundred unfinished drawings, a dozen canvases, a mural, a mirror, some plants, okay a lot of plants, my box of postcards and stamps, a few cardboard tubes, a lot of pencil trash on the carpet (I’ll vacuum soon) , Frida Kahlo themed coasters, and a billion art supplies. Can’t wait to read your responses. Also, LINK IN BIO to PRE-Order my book! 🙏🏼 and follow me on Twitter @maliha_z_art P.S for young artists, the current corner of your little bed room is the most valuable art studio you ll ever have because that’s where your journey of being an artist began. I miss that corner ✨ #myartstudio
She has been creating art for as long as she could remember it, and has experimented with many mediums, from watercolors to charcoal to oil paints.
Back in 2012, when she started to post her art online on Instagram, and that’s when she started to take it all very seriously because she was sharing it with others, and also experimenting with different themes.
View this post on Instagram
10th December is Human Rights day! Do not neglect basic human rights to our girls. Instead, empower them and watch them grow. It is time that people realise that women are just as capable as men, if not more. I read a study where it showed that a professional woman does more than a man because she also carries out her duties at home and in the work space. Human rights shouldn’t be a topic of debate because women are humans and they have rights which no one should be able to deny them. Today, educate yourself on the basic rights and take a look around if any woman is being denied her right. Awareness is the first step and it will start with us! In collaboration with @unwomen @unwomenpakistan ✨ #HumanRightsDay
Maliha has always been about women empowerment, and her art reflects the same.
She told MangoBaaz how even the oldest of pieces that she has ever created, the focus has always been on women empowerment, women’s stories and how she could contribute as an artist to stand up for any sort of causes that supports women.
“I once did a series on women of Kalash where I did not colour[sic] their skin and just highlighted their accessories and traditional wear. My purpose was to drive attention to their cultural wear and for people to not care about the colour[sic] of their skin. In an exhibition, this series was well appreciated.”
View this post on Instagram
Bibi Kai. I did a Series on Kalash a while ago portraying different emotions and colors. I just remembered a little story of when I had my show case in San Francisco and I displayed my Kalash series in it. A few Mexican women came up to me, praised me for my work and asked me that where are these ladies from? Are they from Mexico?", They said. and I replied that no they are from a valley in Pakistan, Kalash. They were so happy to know that some where in Pakistani culture, there are similarities to their culture and it was an amazing feeling. ✨ Color n Culture. Last year I cleaned up my instagram and deleted all the posts. This Kalash series was deleted along with that as well. You find this on my @Facebook page but not on my insta so I am posting it again. ✨ ✨ The prints are available for this series. 🌙 Xxo
“Since then I have been working on many series and platforms as well. Organizations such as Adobe, UN Women and Peace corporation have also worked me on topics of women empowerment so since my focus has always been this, I wanted to do a series on Pakistani women.”
Maliha is currently working to publish her first ever book called Pakistan For Women, which is also the first of its kind in Pakistan, and highlights 50 of the most extraordinary women who belonged to Pakistan.
“I drew many Pakistani women before but this series, I wanted to make it special. From an idea of a series which would have been of 10, maximum 15 women, when I deeply started thinking about it, I realized how many stories and amazing women there are that we must celebrate. There hasn’t been a book like this in Pakistan before. I wanted to showcase these stories and I wanted to share with little girls to motivate them. That was the moment I bought a fresh notebook, made a list of all the women in Pakistan I’d want in this book and when I say I made a list, I could’ve easily made a list of 1000 women but ultimately I decided to narrow it down to close to 50 amazing women from Pakistan, did my research, pull many all-nighters, drank a billion cups of coffee and here we are.”
View this post on Instagram
"Pakistan for women: Stories of women who have achieved something extraordinary" official Book Cover. This book is the first of its kind in Pakistan.such a book does not exist in the country yet.I am so glad to see all the support and love since the initial announcement of my book. Alhamdulillah. Every message of support makes my heart feel warmer and warmer. Pakistan for women is a book about more than 50 real stories of amazing women who belong to Pakistan and have achieved something extraordinary while making a difference. It consists of illustrations for each woman along side their stories. It celebrates women from all walks of life and is designed to inspire girls and help them understand the importance of women empowerment and feminism through these stories. It is seen at times that certain people discourage girls to go after what they are passionate about. In some cultures, basic right of education is denied as well. Awareness and cultural misconceptions play a big role in this. Excuses vary from honour to household responsibilities, although at times the reason told to those little girls is that they are in Pakistan and therefore they cannot achieve something because their country is poor or doesn’t have that many resources. In a way people make excuses for themselves at times and before even trying, they give up. This book consists of true stories of women, from mountaineers to astrophysicists to educators, and it advocates for the idea that if these Pakistani women can achieve their dreams through hard work and dedication, so can all the girls, reading their stories. These women are Nobel prize winners, are given "Pride of Pakistan", hold gold and silver medals and have been known even across borders for their incredible work and talents. To pre-order your copy, you can simply head to the kickstarter campaign, LINK IN BIO. Thank you GET IN TOUCH Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Instagram: www.instagram.com/Maliha_z_Art
According to the book’s Kickstarter Campaign, the book celebrates women from all walks of life and is designed to inspire girls and help them understand the importance of women empowerment and feminism through these stories.
This book consists of true stories of women, from mountaineers to astrophysicists to educators, and it advocates for the idea that if these Pakistani women can achieve their dreams through hard work and dedication, so can all the girls, reading their stories.
These women are Nobel prize winners, are given “Pride of Pakistan”, hold gold and silver medals and have been known even across borders for their incredible work and talents.
From Samina Baig, the first Pakistani woman to climb Mount Everest
Noor Jehan, the undisputed Queen of Melody
Asma Jahangir, activist, feminist and UN Human Rights Award winner
To Veeru Kohli, an activist that millions of Pakistani bonded labour need.
And Malala Yousafzai, activist and the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
With this book, Maliha aims to reach the minds of little girls who have dreams and aspirations.
“In this book, I have added women from many different backgrounds within Pakistan who are working in many different fields. I have added mountaineers, astrophysicist, educators, entertainers, businesswomen, and many more. The reason for the diversity and adding so many different disciplines was to make every girl believe more in her dreams.
“Pakistan for Women” celebrates women from all walks of life and is designed to inspire girls and help them understand the importance of women empowerment through these stories.”
The book is currently available for pre-order via Kickstarter, which has been set up to cover the printing and distribution costs of the book.
You can support Maliha and her incredible book by backing the project from here.
It’s absolutely incredible to see how women have started to get the spotlight they rightfully deserve, and we hope that through projects like these, we have scores of inspired young girls who would change our country and the world for the better.
To read more about Maliha’s life and adventures, check these out
Cover Image via Maliha Abidi / Pakistan For Women