Comics, Cartoons and Gender Equality

By: Dhivya Shastri, YWCA of Canada


By: Agata Hop, Poland (3rd Place)
About my comic: The cartoon portrays today’s sad reality in an amusing way. While the man is riding an escalator to success, the woman has to climb the ladder carrying a lot of burden.**

Life can be tough for a 12-year-old girl; you begin growing in places you weren’t expecting, you start menstruating and you begin your personal journey into womanhood. It is an unforgettable experience; both exciting and harrowing.

Somewhere along the way you realise that growing into a woman comes with people telling you how to be a woman. This is very unsettling because it shows that people unconsciously disempower women starting from a very young age. As if being bombarded with cultural and social ideas of femininity from family members and friends is not enough; you are exposed to media that depict “real” women as busty, tall and skinny.

The very face of feminism and gender equality is always being defined by someone else and it’s a narrow definition. I don’t want generations of children to grow up like me. I want them to know what gender equality is from a young age; because women’s disempowerment starts when you are a kid, adolescent and teenager. The lessons you learned in these junctions of your life are brought with you into adulthood.

Young boys and men will shape gender equality as they get older. Young girls and women will have to work alongside them to make sure this evolution of gender equality is truly reflective of equality itself.

**Image and caption taken directly from:

Now here is where the cartoons come in: I love my cartoons and comics. They are littered with messages reflecting the social, political and economic turmoil of our times. Thus, I was really excited when I came across the Comic and Cartoon Competition on Gender Equality launched by UN Women, the European Commission, the Belgian Development Cooperation and UNRIC in 2015. The competition challenged young people to illustrate their understanding of gender equality through comics and cartoons without any dialogue. Here is what the first and second place winners came up with:


By: Emilio Morales Ruiz, Spain (1st Place)
About my comic: Gender inequality is still visible today. Even the smallest acts are important steps for solving this global problem.**


By: David Ibáñez Bordallo, Spain (2nd Place)
About my cartoon: Stop telling stories, you are superpowerful!**

Both these contestants are men. Gender equality is changing. Men are beginning to take a more active role in realising gender equality. In a CBS Poll of 1150 people that explored the contemporary women’s movement, it was found that when men were given the definition of feminism, 58% of respondents (all of which were American) identified as feminists (Alfano, 2009).

The women’s right movement has been given a negative connotation due to factors such as misogyny and exclusivity. In the West, it was largely linked to educated, middle class, Caucasian women. However, today not only are men moving forward with women, but members of minority groups across the world identify with one or more aspect of the women’s movement and the struggles women face globally.

Women from all over the world are finding empowerment by catering “feminism” to fit their cultural standards and moral outlooks. Men today, are also becoming increasingly supportive, yet remain an “untapped” resource. As Agata Hop’s cartoon illustrated: women can no longer carry a heavier burden to achieve equality, men and women must do it together.

Check out the following link to see what other contestants came up with for the Comic and Cartoon Competition on Gender Equality:

Feel free to post your knowledge, stories and other comments in the comment section below. Also, post links to other artistic campaigns like this one that are raising awareness on gender equality!

Simply spreading the word about the Comic and Cartoon Competition on Gender Equality can help to raise awareness of gender equality and it might even inspire someone to get more involved (hint, hint: artistic activists). So please, if you haven’t already done so, share the above link (or any ones you see in the comment section that resonate with you) on your social media accounts.

Alfano, S. (2009). Poll: Women’s Movement Worthwhile. CBS News. Retrieved from

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Comics, Cartoons and Gender Equality

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