Samar Minallah’s Truck Artwork Wins Commonwealth Honor
Islamabad: Anthropologist Samar Minallah Khan has won the Commonwealth Innovation Award for successfully using truck art to highlight the country’s social issues, particularly the denial of the rights of women and children.
“Our fleet of trucks traveled across Pakistan, displaying messages about the basic rights of girls, especially their right to education, inheritance and protection,” Samar said. at ‘The News’.
According to her, she is one of 15 people from Commonwealth countries to have been honored for providing innovative solutions to pressing development challenges. The winning innovations are divided into five thematic areas reflecting the pillars of the Sustainable Development Goals, including people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnerships.
Samar, who pioneered the use of truck art to draw attention to social issues in the country, said that she, leading a team of artists and truckers, designed and replaced conventional truck images of men with those of empowered girls receiving an education. She said the trucks traveled through and reached remote parts of the country, so they served as mobile billboards.
“Our rolling billboards with messages and images drawn from local culture and traditions are helping to change mindsets and promote the empowerment of girls and women in remote areas of Pakistan,” she said. declared.
Samar said she integrated indigenous folk culture and art, film and folk music to create culturally relevant interventions that resonated with local audiences.
“Through these innovative storytelling tools, I raised awareness about harmful cultural practices, including compensatory marriages. I want to continue using these tools to raise awareness and change mindsets,” she said. According to the anthropologist, who is also a renowned filmmaker, art has the power to connect and educate people in innovative ways.
She said raising awareness was the first step to start localizing the SDGs.
“If done in collaboration with local communities, the message and information will belong to the audiences that matter. I will continue to create innovative and culturally relevant works that are enduring,” she said.
Samar said she first used truck art in 2003 to spread messages against swara (practice of compensation marriages) and after observing its effectiveness and impact on the targeted community, 19 similar projects were launched on women’s literacy and missing children. She even moved the Supreme Court with the first public interest litigation against compensatory marriages and illegal jirga decisions, and thus made swara illegal in 2004.
“Our campaign aims to preserve this indigenous art form while replacing celebrity images with empowered girls and empowering messages for women’s rights,” she said.
Samar has also used storytelling to shine a light on unsung heroes in rural communities, especially men, who stand up against harmful cultural norms and protect the human rights of their daughters. Focusing primarily on local audiences, its truck documentaries and artwork have been translated into multiple regional languages for wider audiences.
Advocacy has won numerous international awards for Samar’s truck art work, including Cannes, Golden Cube at the ADC Annual Awards, New York, London International Award and Clio Award.