Anat Ronen, the artist behind the beautiful mural, painted it in May earlier this year at the Avis Frank Gallery in Houston, Texas.
Rosie the Riveter was created during World War II as a representation of the American women who worked in factories when male workers joined the military. Now commonly used as a feminist symbol, her image is recognised globally as a symbol of women’s economic power.
So it’s only appropriate to link her with 17-year-old Yousafzai, who became an advocate for girls’ education after a Taliban gunman shot her when she was travelling home from school. Since she survived, Yousafzai has travelled the world to speak out on human rights and the importance of girls’ access to education.
Ronen told BuzzFeed News what inspired her to recreate the iconic image using Malala:
“Malala has become a symbol for women’s rights in the Muslim world, mostly by spreading her story throughout the western world. Many in the western world, I feel, do not begin to understand the world she comes from, including me, even if I was born ‘in the region’. I felt I wanted to combine a symbol of Western ‘warrior’ with her image, to maximise the symbolism and through somewhat controversy, promote her agenda.
“In my street art pieces I feel obliged to deliver a message, to tell a story. Sometimes you come up with a better idea, sometimes less. Being a woman, it is important for me to be a part of this agenda and help as much as I can. Being a street artist provides me the opportunity to deliver my message through my art. Being Israeli was an added ‘bonus’ – given the charged history of negative emotions and history – to be able to manifest this woman’s agenda through this mural.”
Ronen said people were unsure about the mural at first, and asked why she was painting a “Muslim Rosie”.
I sensed they felt uneasy with the fact that I am distorting one of America’s greatest symbols. Being a foreigner myself, I am indifferent to emotional attachments, so it wasn’t much of a big deal to me, but I knew it was going to be somewhat controversial. After the text was added, everything fell in place and people are able to make the connection and even if they never heard of Malala before, they now do.