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Illustration by Nadia Akingbule

International Women’s Day 2019

To celebrate International Women’s Day, shado asked some of their wonderful illustrators to interrogate and celebrate what it means to identify as a women to them personally.

We he hope this will broaden definitions of womanhood and demonstrate the amazing ways women globally are using their work and voices to see, hear, act and do.

No. 1 By Maryam Jamal

The Understanding of Love; the Understanding of Being – Maryam Jamal
Instagram @maryamjamalart

No. 2 by Nadia Akingbule

Illustration by Nadia Akingbule

Being a woman means more than having an exterior that is considered traditionally ‘female’. As people who identify or present as women, we are unified through our lived experiences; our individual interpretations of womanhood are what makes us strong. Together, we must help one another to overcome adversity, and rise to our full potential within a society that doesn’t always support, or celebrate us, in the way that we deserve. – Nadia Akingbule

Instagram @nadiaakingbule

No. 3 by Edie Kelsey

Illustration by Edie Kelsey

For me, identifying as a woman is being powerful, strong, loving, ambitious, patient, brave, confident, compassionate, beautiful and most importantly, valuable. Despite being regularly unappreciated and underestimated.

As the great Maya Angelou once said, “I’m a woman. Phenomenally.”
Instagram @ediekelsey_

No. 4 by Rosa O’Mara


“Imagine” she said, “being a man.”

The Ladies erupted into smoky cackles, rocking back on their snakeskin stools, their neon talons curled around brimming glasses of wine. She sucked in a last drag and extinguished her cigarette in a Cosmopolitan held by the men lying facedown under their stiletto heels.

“We might get taken for a ride but at least we’re magic.” – Words by Rahel Girma @ra.helg
Instagram @rosaomara

No. 5 by Amna ElHassan

Illustration by Amna Elhassan

Happy women’s day to the women of Sudan! Any and every successful story would not have been possible without the presence of them. Despite the hard choices they face every day, they have the courage to break all these cages. They are really strong and faithful. – words by Amna ElHassan

To all Sudanese women, you are the future. Never lose your charm!
Instagram @amnaelhassan

No. 6 by Olga Loza

What does identifying as a woman mean to you?

It means—

It means I count days between periods and have to decide whether to take hormones which make me anxious or to give in to bleedings that are irregular and painful; it means that doctors dismiss my unease by saying that I will only need to worry about this when I want to get pregnant.

It means a man walking past me on an empty stretch of a narrow path can reach out with his hand and grab my breast, smiling and looking me in the eye.

It means that when I walk alone––especially in the hours after dusk, or on quieter, emptier streets, but equally on busy, crowded ones––muscles in my shoulders and my back stiffen, my pace quickens, becomes more purposeful, I lower my eyes.

It means I spend disproportionate amounts of time contemplating how what I wear and how I look might be interpreted, or the way I move or smile or frown.

But it also means sisterhood with other women, a silent––implicit––shared understanding of a myriad of things; an attunement to the rhythms of my body; an ability to register and talk about feelings, my own and other people’s; a willingness to relate; countless opportunities to prove people wrong when they think I can’t do something; a strength to withstand turmoil and distress.

Instagram @olganloza

No. 7 by Edith Ault

Illustration by Edith Ault

I really wanted to focus on the beauty of female friendships, and the love, support and comfort they exude. I took inspiration from all the memories and moments captured with my best friends. I’m sure everyone can relate to the closeness of these relationships!

Instragram @edithault

No. 8 by Emily Pearman

Illustration by Emily Pearman

I began with attempts of a self portrait to consider who I am as a woman however this drawing practice quickly turned into frustration, 7 terrible illustrations in I was about to give up. This made me think and consider, for being a woman I can be creative, I can be strong and I can be successful but, I can also fuck up a lot.

I think that this is part of who I am as a woman, and think that it may resonate with other women too, its making mistakes, being vulnerable and accepting that were not always perfect. Its hard for me to publish drawings I not happy with, but for the sake of being a woman who is far from perfect, I wanted to share these failed attempts that would usually find home in the bin.

Instagram @emilypearmann

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