According to the Federal Education Ministry of Pakistan, only 25 per cent of the country’s girls are literate. However, independent analysts report that this number is closer to 12 per cent than 25. Education, limited healthcare and job opportunities are only some of the challenges these women face. To bring these issue to light, Nida Mushtaq, a sexual rights campaigner based in Pakistan, and Shilo Shiv Suleman, founder of community art project The Fearless Collective, began a journey across Pakistan using murals to highlight the issues specific to each region they visited.
Suleman founded the collective in 2012. It is made up of a collective of artists, activists, photographers and filmmakers who use art to speak out against gender violence. After the brutal rape and subsequent death of a medical student in Delhi, India in 2012, the group sought to “re-define fear, femininity and what it means to be fearless.”
Mushtaq reached out to Suleman in an effort to inspire marginalised communities in Pakistan in the same way the collective had managed to inspire communities in India and Nepal. Suleman explains that every feminist movement and street art movement comes from a need to reclaim public space. So with this in mind, the collective set out to different regions to reclaim the space different ways.
“In each space that we go to, we either have some kind of workshop and interaction with the women there and the children there,” explains Suleman. “By the end of the workshop we come up with some kind of affirmation that is very much relevant to that context and then we paint it on the wall.”
The murals draw attention to pertinent issues and spark debates within each community. Suleman hopes these debates will inspire change. Suleman plans to expand The Fearless Collective across the world to Lebanon, Sri Lanka, and Syrian Refugee camps. All proceeds generated from the sale of the art benefits the collective’s programs and contributing artists.