We were so honoured to be able to speak with Maliha Abidi, Founder of Women Rise NFT. She is a Pakistani-American published author and visual artist. Her work focuses on advocating for social justice, including women’s rights, gender equality, girl’s education and fighting for the marginalised communities. Maliha has been sharing stories of incredible women through her art and illustrated books for over 9 years. She has worked with amazing organisations such as UN, Global Goals, Malala Fund, Adobe, Google, and many others!
Can you give us a bit more information about your experience with NFT’s and what you're currently doing within the sector?
NFT's have been so incredible. Especially because as an artist, I just see a lot of potential for creatives to, you know, just make it and remove the middleman to directly deal with people and deal with collectors and work with them. For myself, my NFT journey has been an extension of the work that I've been doing for the past nine years as an artist, as an activist, creating art for social justice. NFT's are just such an incredible platform and the community is amazing too. So you know, there's a lot to it, it's not just art, and it's not just like having a financial asset. It's the best of both worlds.
Since we're focused on the European market, could you give us an overview about what the NFT markets within the European setting looks like? And what kind of distinguishes the European market from the rest of the world?
If I'm being honest I haven't attended many events in Europe and I haven't really come across that many creatives from Europe. But, that doesn't mean that there aren't, it's just unfortunately, at the moment, everything is very US centric. So if you want to be a part of, let's say, events, a lot of them are happening in the US.
This year, I'm really looking forward to the Women in Tech Conference, that’s going to be incredible. I have heard a few things about Portugal and the NFT scene in Portugal. But overall, I'm seeing a lot more of FinTech and conversations around like crypto, but not so much around NFT's. I am proud to say that Women Rise is one of the leading projects in England and we're one of the main projects from Europe.
Could you actually tell us a little bit more about the project itself?
Yeah, so Women Rise is a NFT collection of 10,000 NFT's celebrating representing women, artists, scientists, coders, and more. We're also working towards advancing women's rights on girls' education. That's our main goal. So we started off as a NFT project, but our main goal is to advocate for girls' education.
So you can kind of merge NFT’s and fighting for something that's really, really important in society at the same time?
Yeah it's actually a very good combination, if you ask me, because, like I said earlier, like NFT's provide this incredible, you know, financial asset, it's so innovative and it's art. So already NFT's are three things at once. And then you combine that with social justice, or fighting for social justice, I feel like it's a really good combination. And for the past 10 years, I've been creating art for social justice. So initially, I combined art and activism, but through NFT’s, I'm able to take it a step further.
From an NFT perspective, in the European markets, do you foresee things to pick up over the next few years? Or do you think this is a kind of fad or trend that's going to fade away?
I don't think it's going anywhere. Because art has been around for centuries. And you know, there’s always new versions of art. So NFT's are not going anywhere. I feel like we have yet to see the full potential of them too. If anything, I think NFT's will go beyond art, music and architecture, and maybe into things like tickets. We already see tickets being like NFT's and digital assets so I think they will just get more incorporated into our everyday life.
What advice can you give to women who are wanting to understand the market a bit better, and perhaps even themselves wanting to create NFT's?
So I feel like anybody, or especially women, who are trying to get started in this space, whether as a collector or as a creative, I think your starting point should be reading an article or two and then starting on Twitter. Twitter has the biggest community of NFT's. Other platforms are trying to catch up, like Instagram and TikTok, but you will find the best education content on Twitter, as well as communities. I would encourage you to join these communities and by communities, I mean, you don't have to, like dive into buying NFT's right away, but join discourse of different communities so that you can perhaps get a feel of it.
At Women Rise, we have some educational content for people who are newcomers to our community. We have a step by step process of like, okay, what's the matter mass? How do you connect? You want it? How do you create your wallet? How do you transfer? How do you buy your first NFT? I recommend checking out marketplaces, how you can even turn your Instagram images into NFT's. Whether you're a creative or a collector, or just wanting to be a part of the community, there are a lot of gates on how you can enter through.
You will be speaking at the upcoming European Woman in Tech Conference. So what can delegates expect to hear from you and your session?
Yeah, I am so excited for that event. I am looking forward to connecting with other women in the tech space in Europe. Because like I said, everything is so US centric, at least like how I see it and sometimes I find myself only attending conferences and events in the US. I will be talking about how Web3 is a tool to advance human rights, advance women's rights and advance girl’s education. I’ll also discuss how we can use the technology and opportunities in Web3 and more.
And could you tell us about any future projects that you're working on or any upcoming exciting developments?
Yeah, so we're building a lot of things at Women Rise. The ultimate goal we have is to build the first school in the metaverse for the 258 million children who are currently out of school. 129 million of them are girls. We have already started working on that and it's just going to be such an incredible project. Working on the digital divide and working on cultural education is the biggest hurdle that we will be facing, but we're well prepared for that. And we're working with organisations so collaboration is going to be the key to that and also community support. So we're really, really excited.