Oxfam in Pakistan launched the ‘Free from Fear’ digital illustration exhibition at the Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA). The artwork featured in the exhibition imagines a world where women and girls live free from the fear of harassment and violence. The digitally illustrated posters were submitted as part of a nationwide competition launched in November during 16 Days of Activism.

Visual arts students from across Pakistan were invited to participate in the competition and Oxfam received nearly 100 entries of which 21 were shortlisted for display. The shortlisted entries have been judged by a high-profile panel which includes digital artist Shehzil Malik, documentary filmmaker Samar Minallah, and Pakistan’s first female cartoonist Nigar Nazar.

The exhibition was opened by Australian High Commissioner Margaret Adamson who told the audience that Australia is working with Pakistan to protect and advance the rights of women and girls and supporting thousands of survivors of gender-based violence “Australia is supporting Oxfam’s ‘She Can Lead’ programme to increase women’s participation in the democratic process. More women in leadership roles will promote gender equality, vibrant society, and a strong economy in Pakistan,” she said.

Speaking at the opening, Canadian High Commission First Secretary Lisa Moreau said, digital mediums drive movements and are a powerful, public modality to reiterate the message of the ‘Free from Fear’ campaign. “Enabling women’s empowerment requires action on many fronts and this exhibition reminds us that that ending harassment and violence in public spaces and public transport are essential to women’s endeavors towards becoming full and equal participants of public life,” she said.

Oxfam’s Country Director Mohammed Qazilbash appreciated the students for their creativity, skill, and conceptualization. “The work featured here today has made us aware of the potential of using art, especially digital art, to educate and inspire. We hope these young artists will continue to use their talent to bring social change,” he said.

Mehranians secured two of the top 21 positions, Aasma Qureshi’s illustration secured 2nd position and artwork by Aiman Qureshi was shortlisted among top 21 posters.