Thursday March 7, 2019 ــ By: Kismat Mokhtar
Women empowerment art, especially cartoons, is gaining popularity and creating waves of change to women worldwide. Rasha Mahdy, apioneer woman in the field of editorial cartoons, is using her illustrations to advocate for and empower women, by focusing on the issues that hinder their growth.Since breaking into this field, women issues, rights, problems and challenges were among the major themes she addressed.
Her cartoons appeared in popular newspapers, magazines and websites in Egypt, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan and the UK. Her work was exhibited in Egypt, Morocco, Kuwait, Jordan, Syria, Beirut, Dubai and France.
WOE: When was the moment that motivated you to use your illustration to fight for women rights?
RM: The number of women cartoonists are almost negligible compared to men. Until recently, women problems and issues have been presented in newspapers and magazines by male cartoonists only. So, breaking into this field gave a great opportunity to women cartoonists to express their feelings, problems and challenges from their perspective.
WOE: How did your cartoons affect people in general? And Specifically, how are men perceiving and reacting to your work?
RM: I belong to a specific school of cartoon art called “The No Comment School,” where there is no direct message delivered to the audience. You have to think deeply to unlock the clue and the key of the illustration.
Men appreciate and believe in the credibility of art expressed from the point of view of women, because she is more capable to express her feelings and challenges.
WOE: Do you consider yourself a feminist artist?
RM: No. I don’t consider myself as a feminist artist. My cartoons fall under defending human rights in general. I have cartoons defending children, refugees, prisoners’ rights…etc., and also political, social cartoons, in addition to advocating for women rights.
WOE: How does fighting for women rights using cartoon art differ from using other mediums, like writing, paintings, etc.?
RM: Cartoon art plays an important role in raising the awareness of society. It is a very effective and quick tool of delivering messages to audiences, very powerful form of expression. It stirs the consciences and touches the emotions. A small piece of cartoon can be more effective compared to a long written article. It can be easily seen on websites, social media and in newspapers, compared to painting exhibited in indoor galleries. Nations, organizations and individuals nowadays appreciate the role cartoon plays and how we can use it in awareness campaigns, discussing various topics.
WOE: What inspires your cartoons?
RM: Current events, people talks, personal experiences, emotional scenes, even animals, birds and plants can be sources of inspiration. I also believe that inspirational angels throw wonderful ideas to your mind and heart. Working hard and thinking deeply can also give birth to wonderful ideas. The most successful cartoons are selected to participate in competitions and win prizes.
WOE: Can you tell us more about the cartoons international competitions for girls and women empowerment?
RM: International organizations concerned with women issues as UN Women invite comic and cartoonists to join international competitions to picture their understanding of women rights, gender and girl empowerment through cartoons.
My latest participation as a jury member was in 2017 for Woman Education for Peace in “Syria. I was also a jury member for Aydin Dogan International Cartoon Competition in Turkey in 2018.
Cartoonist Rasha Mahdy received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphics from the Faculty of Fine Arts in 1997. She is member of the Egyptian Cartoonists Organization and the syndicate of Egyptian Fine Artists. She worked as a cartoonist, story board illustrator, graphic designer, and advertising campaigns creator.
Visit Rasha Mahdy Cartoon House on Facebook
***If you liked this article, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter and receive our articles by email.