On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, a brief overview of three artists working in the Middle East and North Africa, to improve women conditions, and fight taboos that keep them too often in stereotyped roles .
Zainab Fasiki, the cartoonist fighting taboos of female body in the Arab world
Raised as the only daughter among five brothers, Zainab Fasiki soon develops some feminist instincts and understands the magic power of her pencil in shaking Moroccan society. She took refuge in drawing and started to share some illustrations representing her naked on her Instagram account. Her account met a huge success and has now more than 15,000 followers. Which brings her first collaboration with Skefkef, a Moroccan satirical and quirky fanzine for which she realized The Essentials of Sex Education, a series of sexual educational drawings. This experience marked the beginning of another project: Hshouma. Meaning “shame” in Moroccan dialect, this initiative born during an artistic residency in Spain includes a comic strip, the creation of a website and a series of events to fight taboos related to the body and sexuality of women in the Arab world. She is also the founder and director of Women Power, a women’s empowerment association created to support young Moroccan artists. Having recently launched Feyrouz Versus The World, a graphic book about a young girl from the MENA region who dreams of traveling and emancipating herself, she also continues her humanitarian commitment in a partnership with the United Nations in Morocco, UNHCR Morocco, for whom she draws heartbreaking testimonies of African girls who have been victims of excision or gang rape.
Bochra Tikri, creator of a Tunisian international feminist art festival
Bouchra Tikri is a Tunisian woman, member of the Chouf association:an association that works to fight discriminations against women such as sexual violence, racism, éducation or disabilities… In 2015, she co-organizes with this association the first annual feminist art festival in Tunis. Named Chouftouhonna (SENS), its goal is to promote feminist struggles in several disciplines, and to provide Tunisian women with a space for sharing their creations and having a voice that can be heard. A road sometimes paved with obstacles like racism, religion, patriarchy, tradition or education … Among the association projects: the production of a documentary screened in male prison but also women shelters. The film is based on the true story of a woman raped by police officers in 2013, who was sued by her attackers for immorality, and who prosecuted them for rape. A very long trial that was widely followed by the entire civil society. This initiative aims to show engaged movies to an audience who doesn’t have access to this type of culture generally . Member of the Tunisian coalition for LGBT rights, one of the partners of the festival, she also works with the association Mawjoudin (We Exist), which organized the first queer festival in the country.
Poetess, videographer, slameuse, writer:ZoulikhaTahar is an Algerian artist who has multiple skills. Born in Oran, since her childhood, she uses her words to describe and denounce Algerian society. Poet inspired by Baudelaire and Gainsbourg, she also writes slams where she shares her questions as a young woman does not hesitate to tackle the social injustices of her country, such as the patriarchy. She is the founder of the Awal slammer collective in 2016 and has written a collection of poems Almost two with the French Institute of Oran, which has become a show staged in the Nouvelle Seine. But this PhD student in materials mechanics does not put artistic boundaries to her freedom of speech. Also known as Tout Fine, she became known on social media with a short film on street harassment “La rue”(“the street”) which she co-produced with Sam MB and where we can see her in ordinary situations. Mirror of the youth who fights for liberty in Algiers, if she speaks of her country, it’s always with some poetry and the hope to see things moving.