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Art is power: comics for activism in Nepal

Children in Nepal are making their voices valued and heard by exercising their creativity through comics.

Rejina, 18 working on her comics
Rejina, 18 working on her comics.

Children and young people have a lot to show us. 

Comics are a great way for them to express what they have to say about making an equal world. This year the Art is Power project is equipping them to articulate their feelings, opinions and express issues that affect them. 

This becomes even more important given the COVID-19 pandemic which has adversely impacted the development of children and young people.

“I love telling stories. But I had not realised that I can express my stories using art. This has built my confidence and additional skill to visualise my stories,” said Uma, 19.

“I will continue to work on my new skill to amplify voices of girls like me,” she added.

New skills and friends

Throughout the pandemic, children and young people have not been able to meet their peers but the workshops allowed them to make new friends and share their stories.

Saroj, 15, showing his solidarity to Girls Get Equal Campaign
Saroj, 15, wants to spread awareness of girls' rights using his comics.

“I listened to a story on menstruation. I could not help but portray the story through comics. It gave me joy and a kind of satisfaction. I want to continue to spread awareness so that it inspires others,” said Saroj, 15.

“I like the suggestion shared by my friend to showcase my comics at local markets. I will do it,” he added.

Activism and comics

Girls have rights and their voices matter. Encouraging them to make comics is a great way to inspire their activism, reflection and engagement.

“I am a Youth Ambassador for Plan International Nepal. I work with a bunch of young people from my community to prevent human trafficking. I never thought comics could be an easy way to share information,” said Rejina, 17.

“I am a Youth Reporter for a Plan International Nepal project. I write articles and blogs to create awareness on social issues like child marriage, menstrual health and human trafficking. I never thought the comics could be the easy way,” added Sanish, 18.

Hope for the future

“I am going through Instagram. I found many activists using comics as a tool to showcase their talent. I am thinking of it. I can make a career out of this,” expressed Archana, 13.

“The future is bright. We are learning new skills. I can use it if lockdown happens again,” said Prajila, 15.

Saroj, 15, Comic on end child marriage
A comic by Saroj, 15, on ending child marriage.

What next?

“Through Art is Power young people have had a safe space for 3 years to raise their voices on the issues that matter to them using the medium of art,” said Elizabeth Satow, Country Director of Plan International Nepal. 

“The young girls and boys have shared their concerns about their activism during COVID-19. Plan International Nepal is a bridge between them and powerholders, ensuring their voices are heard and valued,” she added.

Plan International Nepal in coordination with its partner organisation Rural Women Serve Centre exhibited the comics to powerholders to make them accountable and act towards gender equality.