Pakistan’s TV Female Superhero, Burka Avenger, Promotes Girl’s Education
(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Pakistan’s latest TV superhero, Burka Avenger, is the first animated female superhero for the country with a mission to promote girl’s education in the country. The new show, created by Pakistani pop star Haroon, features Jiya, a teacher at an all girl’s school who protects the school from various wicked opponents that includes a corrupt politician and an evil anti-women’s education magician. Jiya dons a burka at night and uses her teaching tools of pens, pencils and books along with her martial arts to foil her enemies’ schemes and keep the school open for her students. Yahoo has collected the sentiments of orphaned children living outside of Islamabad, who were provided with an early look at the show, and the kids responded positively to the action and humour.
The show has struck a chord in a country where Taliban militants have prevented thousands of girls from going to school and attacked activists campaigning for their education. The issue of girls' education in conservative, militant-plagued Pakistan hit world headlines last October when Malala Yousafzai, a young school girl was shot by the Taliban. Malala survived the attack and now campaigns for the right of girls to go to school. Earlier this year, Malala delivered a powerful speech at the UN in New York and is a "real life superhero" for her courage.
Yet surprisingly, the cartoon’s central theme of promoting girl’s education in Pakistan’s tribal belt was not based on the story of Malala as six episodes of the cartoon were completed before Malala was even attacked. Now Pakistan's new burka-clad cartoon superhero is about to go global with plans to broadcast the show in 60 countries. A European TV distribution company has been in touch with a view to translating the show into 18 languages, including English and French. Haroon used his own money to fund the show, as well as some from an anonymous donor.
Burka Avenger seeks to promote value in education, especially for females, as well as religious tolerance, in an area where the Taliban continues to try to suppress women’s education, attacking female schools, students and depriving their rights to an education. The actions and humour of Burka Avenger helps to defeat negative attitudes about women and education.
There has been lively debate in Pakistan's English language press about whether Jiya's choice of disguise is a sign of empowerment or promotes something used to oppress women. The show has also been criticised for reinforcing stereotypes, upholding the burqa as a symbol of oppression. Irrespective of the burqa debate, the essence of Burka Avenger is about girl power and women empowerment.
Photo Credit: Burka Avenger Website