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Female Representation

#7 from 2013: A New Kind of Female Superhero: Burka Avenger

Shamiela Mir's picture

Our Top Ten Blog Posts by readership in 2013
This post was originally published on August 29, 2013


Have you heard of a new superheroine called “Burka Avenger”?  Burka Avenger is a new animated series for kids in Pakistan. Burka Avenger fights corrupt politicians and Taliban-look-a-like thugs who try to shut down a girl’s school in a village. She is fully trained in martial arts and uses pens and books to fight the bad guys. During the day, her alter-ego Jiya is a teacher at an all-girls school. All in all, she represents a female vanguard of girl’s education. So why would there be any criticisms coming from certain feminists circles in Pakistan?  Her burka.
 
To hide her identity, she wears a flowing black burka to fight the bad guys. Those who have issues with it say Burka is a sign of oppression and cannot be used to empower women. Some also say that it sends a wrong message by implying a woman can only be successful if she is invisible.

Interview with Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Director of "Miss Representation"

Maya Brahmam's picture

At a screening at the World Bank of Miss Representation on March 8, I had the opportunity to interview the film's director, Jennifer Siebel Newsom. What struck me during the interview was Newsom's firm commitment to changing how women and girls are portrayed in the mainstream media and her use of social media to instigate a conversation and advocate for change. Newsom also mentions that she wants to build a bridge to men and boys, who are a big part of the solution and talks about an upcoming project aimed at men and boys. Hope the interview provides some insights and provokes discussion.

Maya Brahmam's Interview with Jennifer Siebel Newsom

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How Do You Look At Women?

Maya Brahmam's picture

In honor of International Women’s Day, March 8, I wanted to mention an interesting film, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival last year, called Miss Representation. This documentary challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayal of women and girls, and it focuses on the US media. I found it sobering because it says that, “In a society where media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms, the collective message that young women and men overwhelmingly receive is that a woman’s value and power lie in her youth, beauty, and sexuality, and not in her capacity as a leader.” And unfortunately, the statistics it shows are powerful. Yes, in 2012, it looks like we still have a long way to go.

This past Monday, I had the pleasure of hearing Sima Samar speak at the World Bank. Dr. Samar is the Chairperson of Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and Former Minister of Women’s Affairs for Afghanistan, and she shared a somber view. She said, “Women’s rights are human rights, yet they are often trampled...”