ZUKA BOOKS, a Lahore based publishing organisation, had been shortlisted for a UN Women Asia-Pacific WEP Award in the Gender-responsive Marketplace category.
The UN Women Asia-Pacific Awards are the only regional awards that recognise gender-inclusive initiatives in business organisations. They are conducted in partnership with the European Union with assistance by Australia Aid and Investing in Women.
Over 20 Asia-Pacific countries participated and out of 700 applications only 80 were shortlisted, one of which was ZUKA BOOKS from Pakistan.
“I offer my congratulations and joy to the winners. I am truly honoured and delighted to have made it so far. It has always been about the value of one’s work, the pathways it opens for others that keeps me going. The impact and rewards must be shared with society to enjoy. I genuinely hope this encourages more Pakistani organisations to include women extensively,” says Mehr F Husain, founder and publisher of ZUKA BOOKS. Mehr is also the founder of ZUKA Accessories, a social enterprise with a focus on sustainability and women’s economic empowerment
ZUKA BOOKS was set up as an act of cultural resistance in 2020. Since then it has published Pakistan’s first pop culture book, ‘Pakistan: A Fashionable History’, co-authored with Saad Sarfraz and designed by Minhaj Ahmed Rafi, that looks at the country’s history through the lens of fashion (the book is a recipient of an Honourable Mention at the ADA Awards). It has also published Pakistan’s first poetry book on mental health by Zahra Hameed which was part of a nationwide fashion campaign raising awareness on mental health in women. Recently it published Pakistan’s first graphic novel on marital breakdown by Sabdezar Irfan. In 2021, it was part of the world’s first ‘Women In Literature’ festival spearheaded by Ananke.
ZUKA BOOKS believes that publishing in Pakistan cannot make progress until there is equal representation and freedom of expression when it comes to the written word. As per Mehr, authors deserve to be paid for their work in the form of royalties and a healthy literary industry that nurtures and promotes literary talent, especially for females, is necessary for Pakistan’s development.
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