How The Burka Avenger Series Is Empowering Girls In Pakistan & Now India

burka-avenger

It has been called one of the most influential fictional characters, the rise of a modern female super hero, and having the potential to affect an entire generation. The Burka Avenger animated series which was launched in 2013 is already making its mark on the world. The award-winning series is the first animated cartoon to come out of Pakistan, and it focuses on the theme of female empowerment withing the Muslim cultural setting found in many countries in the Middle East as well as India and Pakistan.

The series has just launched its second season and like the first, it is centered around school teacher Jiya, whose alter-ego is the Burka Avenger. Her weapons are books and pens and she is regularly talking about the importance of education, as well as beating the bad guys (as you do) on the streets of Pakistan.

The Burka Avenger is breaking new ground in an area where female empowering is not exactly the most common thing to see. But with the rise of notable young women such as Malala Yousafzai whose mission is to see every girl in the world get an education, it’s not hard to see why this animated series is attracting a lot of attention around the world.

The first season was only available in Urdu, but as Reuters reports, season two they are expanding the reach of the female superhero by dubbing it in English, Hindi, Telugu and Tamil and will be launched on India’s ZeeQ channel, maximizing it’s reach. It can also be seen on Nickelodeon in Pakistan.

burka-avenger

Unicorn Black is the production company behind The Burka Avenger and they use an item, the Burka, which is normally seen as a symbol of oppression, and subvert it to show young girls and boys who watch that it does not have to be that way.

The use of pens and books as weapons instead of guns and knives etc is also crucial, especially in region where extremist groups are commonplace, and education is not. These everyday items being shown as tools for heroism is rather cool and it is high time something like this infiltrated the minds of young kids who don’t have the same access to positive role models as we do in the west.

“‘Burka Avenger’ is an amazing show – both in terms of quality of animation as well as storytelling. We are always on the lookout for shows with themes that are relevant to Indian children and we are very fortunate that we have this show,” said Aparna Bhosle, deputy business head of ZeeQ.

“We are rolling out a worldwide launch for the ‘Burka Avenger’ series this year so it is fantastic that one of the first territories is India where we are able to reach such a large audience,” said series’ creator and director Haroon Rashid.

indian-school-girls

UNESCO reports that Pakistan has an overall literacy rate of 46%, with only 26% of girls being literate. There are 163,000 primary schools in Pakistan, and only 40,000 of these cater to girls. In rural areas where poverty is rife, the numbers are even more abysmal for girls. They are forced to drop out of school, get married early or work to provide for their families. It is a vicious cycle, but one that can only be changed with a shift in cultural attitudes.

In India, the stats are a little different, but certainly not any better. Roughly 50% of Indian girls are married off before the age of 18, and violence against women is on the rise. Atrocities such as forced abortions, acid attacks, rape and honor killings are at an all time high.

This cartoon series is not just a fun way for young girls to be entertained within their own cultural boundaries (as opposed to an animated character they cannot relate to such as Dora the Explorer), it is also important for parents to recognize why educating their daughters isn’t a luxury, it is a must.

burka-avenger

It is said that children begin to shape their identities and attitudes about the world from a very young age, as early as their first year of life. If the next generation of children who are growing up in conflict zones and regions where gender roles are a dominant part of life can break the cycle with enough positive role models, perhaps the sad statistics on underage girls in countries like India and Pakistan will start to decrease in favor of a more empowered image.

We’re excited to see how The Burka Avenger series will continue to spread throughout the world and offer a ray of hope to girls who don’t yet know what that looks like. Forget ‘The Avengers: The Age of Ultron’, bring on ‘The Burka Avenger’ and the age of female empowerment!

Take a look at the trailer for Season 2, as well as a full 22 minute episode from Season 1 where Jiya tackles an important health issue in Pakistan, Polio.


 

 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.