Maliha Abidi empowers women one illustration at a time

'Pakistan for Women' tells the stories of 50 inspirational women through her eyes.

Maliha Abidi shares her artwork for our Project 1324 challenge themed "Why I March." (Photo: Maliha Abidi)

Most would know Maliha Abidi through her Instagram account (@maliha_z_art), where the Pakistan-born British student had gained a following for her illustrations, often with a feminist message. She has now taken her work off social media and onto the pages of a beautifully illustrated book that celebrates Pakistani women and their accomplishments.

Pakistan for Women: Stories of women who have achieved something extraordinary was funded publically via Kickstarter, where Maliha raised more than £3,000 in just three days. The book tells the stories of 50 inspirational women through her eyes, featuring handdrawn murals of each.

“When I decided to make a list for this series, I realised that there are so many more women out there. Just with my initial list, it could have easily been of one thousand names,” the 23-year-old neuroscience student said during an interview. The ones featured include Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, songstress Noor Jehan and human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir, along with a host of other accomplished professionals such as Pakistan’s first female fighter pilot Ayesha Farooq, first female firefighter Shazia Parvee and first woman to climb Mount Everest, Samina Baig.

Though simple in idea, the book’s resonance has been tremendous, with support for Maliha coming from all over the world and not just in her country of birth. She plans to continue with this series, pointing out, “Like many countries, Pakistan has its problems, but at the same time, here’s a book about women who have achieved immense greatness … anything you name, Pakistan has these stories.”




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