The Migration Blanket: Climate Solidarity is a sequel to Salma Zulfiqar’s award-winning film In Solidarity: The Migration Blanket, which won Best Animated Short at last year’s Berlin Independent Film Festival
“Our house was destroyed and we couldn’t go to school when the floods came. Climate change destroyed our agricultural land,” Shofika, Rohingya refugee, Bangladesh.
Shofika is just one of 150 young refugee and marginalised women from Commonwealth nations and the UK, who have participated in The Migration Blanket film project and a woman on the frontline of the climate crisis.
The Migration Blanket: Climate Solidarity shows how climate change is destroying women’s lives, causing early marriage, preventing access to education, causing hunger and leading to violence against women.
“People are going hungry in Nairobi because of climate change,” said Huda, a student in Kenya.
The film features over 400 pieces of handmade artwork from 150 women in 17 countries, which were created in the powerful ARTconnects workshops led by international artist and human rights activist Salma Zulfiqar.
Participating countries include: Kenya, Nigeria, Malawi, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cameroon ,Greece, Jordan, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, UK, Zambia.
“The film gives vulnerable refugee and marginalised women a voice, empowers them with knowledge on climate change, encourages them to take action, as well as improving their mental health,” Salma Zulfiqar explained.
“I didn’t know how climate change was affecting women and I learned that it’s stopping girls from going to school,” Molika, Birmingham college student UK said.
“We couldn’t go to college due to the storms in the UK and homes were destroyed. But in some countries, it’s forcing young girls to get married when they are ten or 12 years old.”
Women in camps, orphanages and other temporary accommodation participated in the project throughout 2021 to produce the artwork for the film, which was supported by the UK Arts Council and the Midlands Arts Centre in Birmingham. The project helped them learn about climate change, inspired them to take action and improve their wellbeing. ARTconnects collaborated with 17 local, national and international organisations schools and colleges to create the film.
According to the UN, about 80% of people displaced by climate change are women. Women and children are 14 times more likely to die in a natural disaster.
Women own less than 20% of the world’s land, but when they do own land, they prosper and reinvest 90% of their income in their families and communities.
“There is no clean drinking water where I live in Balochistan because of climate change,” Maria in Pakistan said.
“The pollution is making us sick, I’m coughing and get ill from it,” Hadiqa, a refugee in India explained.
The 25-minute art film also pays tribute to leading climate activists Greta Thunberg, Vanessa Nakate and takes note of the 2021 Malala Report on climate change and girls’ education.
“It is a call to action to ensure that women’s rights are protected as a key element in climate action and any policy making,” added Salma, whose trailblazing migrant mother, Bano – who died from Covid in 2021 – inspired her to start the project.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “This is a powerful film which raises awareness of the urgent action we all need to take together to tackle the climate emergency and help make a positive difference to the lives of some of our sadly isolated and marginalised women in the West Midlands and right across the Commonwealth.”
The Migration Blanket – Climate Solidarity film will be shown at the Venice Biennale on 23 April, followed by a Q&A with the artist – with further screenings in London, Oxford, Dubai and Italy – and is part of the Commonwealth Games Culture Festival 2022.
Salma Zulfiqar was recently awarded the Prime Minister’s prestigious Points of Light Award in recognition of her “exceptional service empowering refugee women through art classes” and was voted one of the most inspirational women to hail from Birmingham in the book, Once Upon a Time in Birmingham – Women Who Dared to Dream. She also received the Rising Star Diversity Award powered by The Sunday Times in 2019.