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Calling All Feminist Comic Artists And Illustrators: The U.N. Wants You!

A picture’s worth a thousand words (and maybe a thousand euros) on the 20th anniversary of a gender equality milestone

image via (cc) flickr user gazeronly

In 1995, nearly 50,000 activists and participants joined together at the Fourth World Conference of Women in Beijing. There, representatives from almost 200 world governments outlined 12 areas of critical concern as part of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, what the United Nations considers the “most progressive blueprint ever for advancing women’s rights."

Fast forward to today.

U.N. Women–the United Nations agency that deals with global gender equality–has put out a call for artists to enter an upcoming comic and cartoon contest focusing on gender and women’s rights and drawing inspiration from the Beijing declaration’s areas of critical concern. Why now, decades after the Beijing Declaration was published? Well, as The Mary Sue’s Dan Van Winkle explains: "...the world is crappy and doesn’t work like that, so here we are 20 years later trying to solve the same problems."

Cheesy name notwithstanding, “Gender Equality: Picture It!” is an opportunity for artists, illustrators, and comic creators to showcase “what comes to [their] mind when [they] reflect on women's rights and empowerment and on the relationship between women and men." Finalists have the opportunity to win up to €1,000, and have their work reviewed by a panel of both media and diplomatic bigwigs, including Salla Saastamoinen, Director for Equality for the European Commission and Vice-President of the Federation of Cartoonists Organisations, Marlène Pohle.

If you’re getting a distinctly European vibe, you’re not mistaken. The contest is, unfortunately, only open to European Union citizens. More unfortunate, though, is the fact that gender inequality is still a very real problem across the entire planet. So, even if you’re not eligible to officially enter the contest, that shouldn’t stop you from creating your own amazing, empowering cartoon as a show of solidarity. Van Winkle again hits the nail on the head when he says “You just can’t win anything, aside from hopefully better equality."

This isn’t the first time U.N. Women has turned to the creative arts as a force for promoting gender equality; The agency’s “He for She” initiative was behind the short video of male science fiction authors discussing the women who influenced them that was making the rounds online earlier this month.

Entries to the “Picture It!” contest will be accepted through April 20. The complete contest rules—as well as sample cartoons, and a full list of judges and prizes—are available at the U.N. Women website. There you can also learn more about the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration, and other ways to take action in the ongoing fight for gender equality.

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