Our IWD2022 Story
This illustration you see above was commissioned for International Women’s Day 2022 to renew our commitment to support women and non-binary human rights activists and defenders. We were amazed and humbled by the social media love we received for it, in the form of likes, reshares and retweets. So, we decided to trace back to what led to this visualisation of #FeministSolidarity for #IWD2022.
Artistic expressions of feminist values have been our chosen form of communicating the lived realities and experiences of women and non-binary defenders of Asia and the Pacific. And towards this, we intentionally work with regional artists that belong to activist and defender communities to authentically represent the resistance and resilience of these groups. This year, for #8March, our artist of choice was the non-binary, multidisciplinary Malaysian artist– Veshalini Naidu.
Our brief emerged from the turmoil of the times — whether it be the most recent Ukraine-Russia war, or the Afghanistan turmoil, there is ample proof that is #FeministSolidarity and the political practice of #collectivecare that has resulted in moving critical resources into the hands of those that need it most — women, girls and non-binary communities that bear the brunt of most crises. And for this reason, this #IWD2022, our messaging too was centred around showcasing the practice of collective care as not just a feminist value, but the strength to feminist resistance and resilience. We wanted this to be our call to partners to receive and share this illustration as a token of solidarity and care…beyond words, beyond borders and across crises. And this is precisely what happened!
“International solidarity comes from the belief that our livelihood is interdependent on each other, and that none of us are free until all of us are free.” — Veshalini Naidu
Regional Artist and collaborator Veshalini Naidu whose work merges visual arts, poetry and theatre, brought in their identity, positionality, and politics to co-create and co-dream UAF A&P’s message of #strength in care. “International solidarity comes from the belief that our livelihood is interdependent on each other, and that none of us are free until all of us are free”, says Veshalini. While conceptualising this illustration, Veshalini based their ideas on their own art series called Skin & Flowers which responds to gender and sexuality. Leaning into the idea of water connecting us and our different cultures together, Veshalini says, “To represent this interdependence, I turn to the oceans that connect us.”. “The school of fish in the background”, she adds, “is the Redtail Butterflyfish (レッドテールバタフライフィッシュ), which makes home across our water through Asia and the Pacific. To these fish, there are no borders, only relationships.”. And the light that shimmers in our abundant ocean, and in Veshalini’s illustration, is that of a raised fist, one that unifies our sisterhood.
Through this artwork, we intended to reinstate our grounding in feminist resistance and movements. We wanted to specifically highlight the diversity and strength of communities in the spectrum of women and non-binary activists and defenders.
Also visible in the illustrations are flora native to Malaysia, Samoa, Fiji, Japan, Kashmir, Myanmar and Papua New Guinea, Veshalini echoes our belief that “with our distinct cultures and histories, we are in solidarity with each other and (are) working towards our collective liberation.” To us, these plants represent communities and identities that have historically, systemically and politically been marginalised.
Now that we have shared the story of the IWD2022 Illustration, have a look again, do these illustrations whisper more feminist stories to you? If they do, please share it with us through comments, or through responses on our social media channels.
Who are we? Urgent Action Fund Asia & Pacific (UAF A&P) is a feminist fund, that provides rapid response grantmaking during crises, and support women and non-binary human rights activists and defenders communities towards resilience and thriving across Asia and the Pacific. We accept grant requests through the year and support security, well-being and resilience-strengthening needs.
Are you a woman or non-binary human rights defender or network looking for crisis or resilience support? Look through our array of grants here and take this eligibility quiz to begin the process of application.
If you would like to support human rights defense, please click here to donate.
In Solidarity and Co-Responsibility,
Urgent Action Fund, Asia & Pacific