“A picture is worth a thousand words”. On March 8, International Women’s Day, women’s movements and feminists across the world celebrate women’s achievements throughout history and call for more political action to eliminate gender inequality in all aspects of life.
To commemorate this day, we have compiled 10 illustrators from the Euro-Mediterranean region; inspiring (and sometimes disrupting) artists who challenge patriarchy, express women’s suffering and oppression, and transform power relations. We want to highlight their contribution to the feminist struggle and the importance of arts to switch gender stereotypes. Feminism needs arts and we need to make feminist artists more visible!
Doaa is considered the first professional female cartoonist in Egypt, currently working for the newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm. She is known for her satirical illustrations and caricatures strongly critical about political, social and religious matters. She regularly sparks controversy in Egypt where she even faced charges of blasphemy.
Her book "50 cartoons and more on women" portrays controversial women’s issues often marginalized in Egypt and the Middle East. She has shed light on topics such as sexual harassment, female genital mutilation and violence against women, among others.
Laura’s portfolio is full of bold and colorful illustrations that present current social and political conflicts. There is something common in all her works: the representation of fierce women from a feminist and empowered point of view.
The Berlin-based illustrator, who has worked for The New York Times and The New Yorker among others, draws confident women in all shapes and colors. She addresses topics such as women’s body image, LGTBI and queer relationships, new family models, or the balance between maternity and work.
Dima expresses, through her work, her life experiences and journey across three cities: Damascus, Beirut and London, often referring to her forced displacement. She strongly believes that art goes hand in hand with social and political activism: she intends to shed light on issues occurring in Syria that are invisible to the world and spends time clowning for children at refugee camps.
She often represents Syrian women on her delicate illustrations, treating topics such as the social burden they carry, their representation in politics, and the unjust detentions they are suffering.
In 2014, Raquel created her alter ego Lola Vendetta, a character who uses her katana (a Japanese sabre) to end injustice and who, since then, has been her means to openly talk about situations that women face in her environment.
Through her satirical and sharp cartoons, full of violence and humor, she empowers women and denounces taboos like menstruation, female masturbation or motherhood and the passive machismo that still exists camouflaged in modern societies.
She has published two graphic novels: "Lola Vendetta. Más vale Lola que mal acompañada" and "Lola Vendetta. ¿Qué pacha, mama?", and also collaborates organizing workshops and conferences about feminism and women’s issues in Spain, through the initiative "reEvolución femenina".
Ruby has a very distinctive style: her sketches are warm and fun, with a special vintage vibe. She has completed several commissions for companies like Adidas or Flow magazine, but in her day-to-day work, which she shares on her Instagram account, she often spreads feminist messages.
Among her large variety of beautiful artwork, you will find positive references to women’s bodies and self-esteem, sisterhood, and career empowerment.
Male artists also produce feminist work. In 2013, artist Thomas Mathieu created the "Projet Crocodiles" ("Crocodiles Project"), a tumblr page in which he (together with Juliette Boutant) illustrates daily situations of sexism and street harassment, and where men are represented ironically as crocodiles.
His comic strips have thrown up great controversy, but his work just intends to raise awareness about issues such as conjugal violence, slut-shaming, bad experiences in sexual health services, or male privilege.
In 2016, Thomas also designed the illustrations for the book "Le féminisme" ("Feminism"), which explains key concepts and feminism’s achievements through important events and slogans in history.
Ali Dilem is an Algerian cartoonist, well known for his satirical caricatures with a powerful political message. He has always been strongly critical toward the authorities of his country, something that has led to several lawsuits and fines, and ultimately sentenced him to one year in prison.
Through his work, he has shown special interest for the particular situation of Algerian women, showing taboo subjects in his country and reclaiming feminist demands related to the family code and violence against women.
Egle, currently based in London, designs original, unique and provocative women. Her work mixes perfectly female power and pop culture. Her feminine silhouettes, many times mixed with humor and positive messages, are really recognizable.
Through illustrations, installations, sculptures and street murals, she empowers female bodies and represents women sexuality, confidence and sisterhood.
Lena is the co-founder of Samandal, a Beirut-based collective of artists that use the genre of comic to mainly explore society and politics. Through her work, she has primarily dug into religion and the civil war in her country. For this, she has experienced censorship and battled a lawsuit from the Lebanese government.
Her graphic novel “Mrabba w Labban” ("Yogurt and Jam"), where she explores the journey of her mother from Germany to Lebanon, took several international awards. Lately, she has been focusing in one of the main taboos in her country: women’s sexuality.
Currently based in London, Sara always defies, through her bold and unique creations, the traditional connotations of femininity. She portraits strong women with shapes, clothes, poses that break the prevailing ideals of beauty.
With a strong influence of the female and queer alternative movements, she has worked for big clients like Apple, MTV or Nike, but always challenging gender roles and the idea of what society expects of women and men bodies.
This platform is part of the Axis 1 "Strengthening the capacities of equality actors" of the Priority Solidarity Fund "Women for the future in the Mediterranean" funded by the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and led by the European Institute of the Mediterranean, in the framework of the project “Developing Women's Empowerment” labelled by the Union for the Mediterranean.