Drawing on Rights – Empowering Rural Women as Human Rights Defenders

As part of our global Citizenship partnership with Indian social enterprise Barefoot College, we are helping increase the human rights-related awareness of women in rural India. Our project, Drawing on Rights, uses the power of visual images to empower women as human rights defenders in their local communities.

Over 20 lawyers from across the firm undertook research on human rights within 18 countries. We worked with the Barefoot Enriche team and our social enterprise client PositiveNegatives to transform this research into comics and animations that Barefoot's semi-literate and illiterate beneficiaries can access to learn about specific rights, as well as steps they can take to prevent abuses from happening in their communities. This is an innovative way to uphold the rule of law and promote access to justice for rural women and their communities.

The comics follow Asha, a teacher from a rural village, as she introduces the concept of human rights and the daily interaction she and her fellow villagers have with these rights, from gaining access to the local well to the sharing of household chores between men and women. Asha goes on to share stories about the right to education, equality, health, and freedom from violence. Each story was drawn from the real-life experiences of women at Barefoot College in order to ensure the comics closely resonated with the audience. These stories were gathered by the Barefoot Enriche team along with researchers at PositiveNegatives, a social enterprise that produces literary comics, animations, and podcasts about contemporary social and human rights issues. They combine ethnographic research with illustration and photography, adapting personal testimonies into art, advocacy, and education materials.

Barefoot will use these comics and animations as part of their Enriche program to facilitate discussion about upholding human rights and how the small assertion of a right can lead to positive change within a household and the wider community. Overall, the Barefoot Enriche program supports the aspirations of rural women to enhance their socio-economic status, and bring sustainable change to their communities. The holistic training program empowers them with confidence, critical skills, and knowledge to succeed in their personal and entrepreneurial journeys. This is achieved via participatory workshops and digital tools designed specifically for illiterate and semi-literate target audiences. Once back in their villages, the women will help bring about positive change by sharing their newfound knowledge and awareness and upholding the role of human rights defenders.

You can watch the introductory animation here:


To see all of the comics, click on the links below.

What are Human Rights? (English)

What are Human Rights? (Hindi)

The right to education

The right to equality

The right to health

The right to freedom from violence

Drawing on Rights is a joint project between Hogan Lovells, Barefoot College, and PositiveNegatives, featuring illustration from Kruttika Sursala, and animation and creative direction from Akhila Krishnan.

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