Within just 12 hours of launching her Kickstarter campaign to bring her book to life celebrating 50 remarkable Iranian women, London-based illustrator Roshi Rouzbehani more than reached her target.
The illustrated biography pays tribute to Iranian women who have played significant roles in art, science, sport, education and philanthropy. "I have seen a lot of interest in celebrating remarkable women around the world, which is great, but Iranian women have generally not been included in such projects. So I decided to use my illustrations to highlight some incredible women from my country," Roshi tells Creative Boom. "Making these women's triumph more visible could also provide positive role models for future generations."
One woman to be featured is Maryam Mirzakhani, the late distinguished mathematician who became the first woman to win the Fields Medal, known as the Nobel Prize of Mathematics, in 2014. Unfortunately, Maryam passed away at the age of 40 but in honour of her achievements, her birthday (12 May) is chosen as the Celebration of Women in Mathematics Day.
Also highlighted is Roza Montazemi, a cooking teacher, author and publisher of the most famous cookbook in Iran. Her comprehensive work, Art of Cooking, has been in publication since 1964. It was even sold as a wartime essential during the Iran-Iraq war, despite the paper shortage and publishing issues.
Are there any stories Roshi most resonates with? "It has to be Touran Mirhadi's story; a pioneer of children's literature, known as the mother of modern education in Iran. She experienced several tragic incidents during her life but she lived by the motto that one ought to 'turn a great sorrow into a great work'.
"One of these heartbreaking incidents was losing her younger brother, Farhad, in a car accident. She later opened a one of a kind experimental and innovative educational complex, Farhad School, named after him. Touran's resilience and compassion motivate us to keep going despite all difficulties we could face."
Born and raised in Tehran, Roshi moved to the UK in 2011 and studied Illustration at the University of Hertfordshire. She also has a degree in Business Management and a Masters in IT Management. Today, she lives and works in London as a freelance illustrator and jewellery designer-maker.
Collaborating with BBC 100 Women, Period Futures, Iranian Women's Studies Foundation, Harass Watch, and Popshot Magazine among others, Roshi is passionate about gender equality and loves to put topics such as female empowerment, sisterhood, mental and physical health for women at the centre of her work. Is there anything she'd like to see change in the creative industries? "I believe underrepresented voices should be amplified in order to have a successful industry. There should be equal opportunities for everyone regardless of their ethnicity, gender, age, or the colour of skin. I am very eager to see the industry leaders actively combat racism or any other form of injustice.
"I would also love to see more clarity about the financial side of the industry. Illustrators should know their worth and have confidence in negotiating with clients."