Illustrations for developing communities

Design and illustration can be a way to make connections to people who are of completely different backgrounds, and creativity is essential to any brand that is looking to grow and be part of a global movement. Design is also in every part of daily life, from the signs on a tube, to the poster you sit next to at a bus stop, to the design of a website telling you key information. When used correctly, it can make things more clear, when used incorrectly, it can completely confuse the matter.

Illustration, and the arts in general, are a way to overcome cultural and language barriers. Most companies in today’s society will use icons to represent themselves because they are devoid of any text and, therefore, can be understood in any language. They can also be used to show a brand’s values or ethos. In my time at WSV, I have helped to illustrate training manuals, how-to guides and even helped to develop a new brand logo (spoiler alert). Each of these tasks requires me to think about how my illustrations will be understood by someone who has no attachment to the company. If I were a stranger, walking past one of my illustrations in a part of the world I haven’t yet been, would it make sense?

These tasks also came with a responsibility, I had to make sure that people would be able to fully understand what we were teaching them and that they would understand how to use the products. If used incorrectly, it could effect them in any number of ways. Obviously, these illustrations are accompanied by text, but the illustration should not be reliant on that text to make sense, especially when it could be used in a community where not many people can read.

Tips for illustrating for developing communities:

  1. Make sure your illustration style is cohesive, so it can be clearly understood.
  2. Make sure your illustrations make sense without any text.
  3. Be mindful of cultural differences, what might be used to symbolise one thing in a culture, may not make sense for another e.g. a piggybank to represent money.
  4. Think laterally. Some of the best ideas may come from being experimental and creative in your thinking. Generate lots of ideas fast. If it doesn’t feel right straight away, don’t try and fix it, move on to another. At the end of the day, you could end up back at one of your first ideas anyway.

 

Alice Clark FRSA

Illustrator Internship

       

 

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Gender inequality- The unfortunate reality for developing communities.

 

When people say “we’ve already beaten gender inequality” this list of gender issues immediately comes to mind…

Domestic abuse, female genital mutilation, lack of access to education, arranged marriage, anti-abortion laws, rape culture, media sexualisation, gender roles, the glass ceiling, parental leave policies, sex trafficking, under representation in politics, breastfeeding in public, sexual harassment, women in sport, women in tech, body image, restricted freedom, honor killings.

An uncomfortable list, yet we clearly need to start somewhere. For many women in sub-Saharan Africa, the reality is that they must overcome barriers to education before they can aim for equality in other important realms. Nelson Mandela wishfully philosophised that

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.

But globally, 65 million girls are not in school (Unicef 2013). So something has to change. We need people in communities to help break down the barriers preventing girls from the opportunity of education.

Menstruation prevents many girls from attending school. A girl who misses school due to menstruation for four days each month loses 156 learning days throughout four years of high school. Health advancements to support girls with menstruation could give them back 24 weeks of education. This would give them a more equal chance at education as their male peers.

Petal pads

‘Petal’ is one of three enterprises in the WSV portfolio. The micro-enterprise trains small groups of local people to become entrepreneurs and empower themselves and their communities by running a Petal franchise where they supply their communities with re-usable sanitary towels. As well as this, they educate their community on menstruation for free, as ‘87% of girls are completely unaware about menstruation and have no knowledge regarding its purpose as a biological process.’ (Unicef, 2012). This education breaks down the stigma and barriers that menstruation has historically caused for girls across the world.

When we provide a solution to one problem, such as menstruation stigma, we often provide solutions to multiple other gender issues. In the case of ‘Petal’, local women, and where possible men, are included in the process and are empowered to start a business together. This may address traditional gender roles in their communities, putting women on a more equal footing with the men. Furthermore, breaking down the stigma surrounding menstruation by educating the community will benefit not only school aged girls. It will benefit adult women too; freeing them from judgement and potential discrimination.

We are still a long way from achieving real gender equality. But the good news is that social enterprise ‘Petal’ is effective and ready to be franchised out to charities.

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