There’s a long, troubling history of political cartoonists being persecuted, arrested, and even killed because of their art. But try as oppressive governments and extremist groups might, cartoonists continue to challenge authorities and bring controversial issues into focus despite the risks involved with their profession–or, in some cases, the added liability of being a woman.
Egyptian artist Doaa el-Adl is considered one of her country’s most famous cartoonists for her creatively critical depictions of political and social concerns, such as government corruption and female genital mutilation. Back in 2012, el-Adl was actually charged with blasphemy for her cartoon that appeared in the Al Masry Al Youm newspaper, showing an angel pompously informing Adam and Eve that they’d be more than welcome to stay in the Garden of Eden–that is, if they voted for the right candidate. But whatever pushback el-Adl has received, there’s been accolades to cushion her, namely being the first woman to receive the Egyptian Journalists’ Syndicate’s Journalistic Distinction award for caricature in 2009 and being one of BBC’s 100 Women of 2016 honorees.
Meet the female cartoonist tackling some of Egypt’s most taboo subjects. pic.twitter.com/boiN8svUHC
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) August 11, 2017
“At the beginning of my career, I was not aware of what my role should be. But by the time I realized that, I knew I had to make a difference as a female cartoonist,” el-Adl says in an interview with Channel 4 News. “That’s why the women’s causes depicted in my cartoons are an integral part of me, as I faced many of these situations myself.”