When I first thought about introducing this women empowerment series to my blog, I had one nagging idea in my head, and that is: Women are capable of such amazing things. I have seen it with my own eyes, and I have experienced it time and time again in ways that have opened up my world to self-acceptance, compassion, and faith.
This “Illustrated Women Who Can” blog series is inspired by a Syrian refugee I met a couple of years ago during my work as a media officer for Oxfam GB. (P.S. It’s OK for me to blog about my Oxfam experiences now that more than one year has passed from my time there – as per contract).
While I’m not going to tell her story here in the launch of this series, I am planning to dedicate one of the coming episodes to a really powerful lesson that this truly inspiring woman has taught me while fixing an interview for her to speak with The Guardian one snowy day.
I have a similar blog serial on my old blog called, “Illustrations for Women about Women.” But I felt I needed to change the title for it to reflect what I was really after, and that’s when “Illustrated Women Who Can” was born (#womenshistorymonth #internationalwomensday #womensday).
Ladies from Tents to Mansions can Teach us a Lot about Women Empowerment
The women in the upcoming episodes of this series are from all walks of life. I have met them during my travels to more than 20 countries to Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia.
These inspiring ladies are poets, artists, housewives, journalists, activists, Queens, female Syrian refugees, grandmothers, mothers, and strong-slash-kind matriarchal figures.
They live in all sorts of environments, in far-away and obscure communities, in the city, inside a leaky tent in a refugee camp, in a dusty Bedouin tent in the desert, in condos, apartments, and mansions – and in one instance, a Royal Palace.
But they all share one thing, and this one thing ascertains that the “woman condition” is as universal and cross-cutting as the “human condition.” They all are female figures who were capable of adapting to their dire circumstances, and who have emerged with their dignity and humanity still intact.
Resilient Women from around the World
Challenges come in all sorts of shapes and flavours to women from every social make-up on the socio-economic spectrum.
Some people assume that women who come from wealthy or educated families are “more fortunate” than women from villages or dwellings with lesser income or more understated lifestyles.
That’s absolutely untrue.
Unfortunately, oppression, domestic violence, and bullying touch the lives of women everywhere.
I can give you many examples of battered women who come from highly educated and reasonably wealthy families. And I can also give you a few good examples of women who live in dignity and an environment of love and respect, and who happen to live in limited-income circumstances.
Because women empowerment is an important message to women from every social class, race, creed, and walk of life, I want to illustrate women who have achieved this in their own lives. Some of these illustrated ladies may have told a different story to the media with focus on other aspects of their lives or work, or are simply not in the public eye to begin with.
But I have met them, and I feel it is my responsibility towards myself, other girls, and women in general, to illustrate them and also tell their story. Being careful not to reveal information that may harm their current lives, I might change some of their real identities. But I will still tell that part of their story that shows a true sense of inner resilience and an ability to rise above the oppression and pain thrown at them just because they are women!
Illustrated women + People illustration by illustrator and artist Yaansoon