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Maliha Abidi: The Artist Celebrating Inspirational Pakistani Women Through Her Work

Maliha Abidi is a UK based artist on a mission to celebrate inspirational Pakistani women.

The 23-year-old, who was born in Karachi, Pakistan, recently released a book titled Pakistan for Women. It features her portraits of 50 Pakistani women who have defied expectations, advanced women’s rights and made history.

The influential figures include Samina Baig, the first Pakistani woman to climb Mount Everest; Arfa Karim, a computer prodigy; Malala Yousafzai, the education activist; and Ayesha Farooq, the country’s first female fighter pilot.

The book is a continuation of Abidi’s commitment to championing women through her art.

“I have always tried to celebrate women through my work. Whenever I came across an inspiring story or culture, I painted or drew it. I always knew that I wanted to contribute to women’s causes and that’s exactly what I did since I started taking my art seriously back in 2012,” she told the Express Tribune.

“As I grew as an artist, my vision and purpose became clearer and I started participating more and more in causes that empower women.”

Abidi also pursued the project as a way of reframing Pakistan as a country. It may have its problems, but it has also produced scores of women who have broken boundaries and brought about profound change.

“You can find an astrophysicist, a mountaineer, an engineer, a doctor, an educator, an artist,” she explained to Now This. “Anything you name, Pakistan has those stories.”

Abidi did not struggle to find women to include in the project. In fact, her main problem was narrowing down the selection, as she says she could’ve included 1,000. The artist, who is currently a neuroscience student at the University of Sussex, hopes the book will encourage women to pursue their ambitions and inspire those around them.

“If you’re a writer, if you’re an artist, if you’re a singer—no matter what you’re talent is—you can help others….raise their voice against whatever struggle they’re facing

The impact of the Pakistan for Women story has already been felt. Abidi fundraised the project on Kickstarter, and it met its goal in only three days.

For Abidi, the book represents another important step on a universal mission.

“It is wonderful that we are living in a time where women do feel empowered, but the fact remains that we still have some way to go where all women feel safe and independent,” she told the Express Tribune.

“This is the journey we all should be on, collectively.”

For more information on Pakistan for Women, head to the Kickstarter.

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