UNPFA Uses Paintings of Artist Fatma Mahmoud to Promote Women Issues

Saturday July 18, 2020
By: Alexandra Kinias

Fatma Mahmoud’s graduation project from Art School, “Be Kind to Women”, to raise awareness on female genital mutilation received high acclaim, nationally and internationally. Her art pieces caught the attention of the UNFPA, and they contacted her to use these them for their awareness campaigns. The UNFPA not only published Fatma’s paintings in an anti-fgm report on their website, but also commissioned her to design new paintings for other issues such as child marriage, violence against women, birth control, and gender discrimination between children.

Fatma, 24, graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts – Helwan University, Department of Mural Painting in 2019. For her graduation project, she designed 13 art pieces to denounce violence against women and highlight its negative impact on their mental, physical and emotional health. Fatma chose female genital mutilation (fgm) to be the subject of her graduation project. She used stained glass, mosaics, acrylic paints, collage from newspapers and magazines, quotes, photographs of girls and razor blades as a symbol of violence against women. 

“At the beginning it was a regular school project proposed to us by Dr. Zainab Nour, the art professor in the mural department. I was deeply affected when I read about fgm and the stories of the girls who died undergoing this procedure. It’s a violent crime in every sense of the word. I couldn’t imagine how some families would do this to their daughters because of false beliefs without any scientific or religious support. I felt for the first time that the role of art is not just about colorful paintings or decorations; its importance lies in its role in raising people’s awareness, whether if the art is displayed in a gallery or a street graffiti,” Fatma explained why she chose fgm in particular for her graduation project. Check her graduation project here

She designed several sketches.  Her professor admired her work and how she tacked the idea of fgm in her art. Her professor’s encouragement led to Fatma’s decision to develop her art pieces further to become her graduation project. Be Kind to Women project won first place for the graduation projects in 2019. 

Fatma started her post graduate studies.  She is elated and proud with her cooperation with the United Nations, which she considers a strong push to her and a tribute to the influence of her art in raising awareness. This has encouraged her to work on designing more paintings on various womens’ issues.

Images copyright ©Fatma Mahmoud

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