An animated television series in Pakistan is set to send out positive messages to youths and adults through the powers of a female superhero called the Burka Avenger. The cartoon character Jiya in the coming series is a female school teacher who only puts on a Burqua to hide her identity when she goes out to fight evil and oppression by using books and pens as weapons. The right for girls’ education is one battle of the Burka Avenger, and other struggles of the superhero are against sectarian violence, discrimination and child labor.
The series is the project of the Pakistani pop music star Haroon, who said he wanted to make a positive difference, especially after seeing how girls’ schools had been shut down by extremists. Haroon said that the character stands for equality, women’s rights, education and peace.
Gender Concerns International recognises the bravery of real-life heroes like Malala Yousafzai who have stood up against oppression to speak out and grow stronger in the fight for the right of equal education. Mainstream cultural efforts like the Burka Avenger have the potential to make engagement for gender-equal education more popular by bringing the fight against extremist opression to large television audiences in an entertaining way. And like in Malala's recent speech at the UN, the new series promotes the power of books and pens as being mightier than swords.
Burka Avenger will launch its first 13 episodes in mid-August after the Islamic festival of Eid ul Fitr. The official website, burkaavenger.com, features a video trailer and describes the series as a must-see event for kids and adults alike, with the purpose of entertaining with a positive social message to the youth.