BRADFORD’S creatives are set to break boundaries with “the brave, pioneering and struggling artists and writers” of Pakistan in a new international project.

Tittled 'From Keighley To Karachi', the group of ten women - five from the district and five from Pakistan - will curate and deliver a weekend of digital literature festival events for public audiences in November.

It is part of a collaboration between Bradford Literature Festival (BLF) and Adab Festival in Pakistan and backed by the British Council Digital Collaboration Fund.

Adaab Festival was formed in 2019 to showcase Pakistan’s historically rich and diverse literature and cultures in light of continuing challenges, stifled expression and stereotypes.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Adab Festival Director, Ameena Saiyid, left, and BLF Director Syima Aslam, pictured rightAdab Festival Director, Ameena Saiyid, left, and BLF Director Syima Aslam, pictured right

The programme will bring together women from diverse and disadvantaged communities, in Bradford and across Pakistan, who face gender-based, social, cultural, technological and economic barriers. Inspired by the 'glass-ceiling-smashing' female leadership of both festivals, it is hoped it will change the under-representation of South Asian females in positions of leadership and the industry itself.

Syima Aslam, Bradford Literature Festival director, said: "At a time when the creative sector in the UK and internationally is paying – perhaps for the first time – proper attention to the woeful inequalities of representation in the arts and culture, I am delighted and grateful that we have been able to secure funding from the British Council for this project.

"At BLF we have long understood and been frustrated by the lack of diversity evident in the creative sector talent pipeline in the UK, which is the result of complex systemic inequalities – and Pakistani British women are particularly under-represented.

"We believe that by exploring and understanding the cultural and social challenges faced by women in Pakistan, we will better understand thechallenges and barriers to participation faced by women in Pakistani diaspora communities in Bradford and the UK.

" For public audiences here in Bradford, in Pakistan, and around the world, we look forward to delivering excellent international cultural events at the November festival, curated by the exciting new talent we recruit for the project."

Women will see their confidence develop as well as building practical skills and industry connections to launch their careers.

Women who would like to know more or would like to apply for the programme can email and register their interest. Ameena Saiyid, Adab Festival director, said: "Women in the creative sector in Pakistan, particularly in rural areas, face enormous challenges such as gender discrimination, segregation, exclusion from the public space, lack of mainstreaming, exposure and empowerment and an insistence on male dependence.

"However, despite women treading a painful course, with every small victory snatched, with great effort and courage, from the teeth of hardened male prejudices, women are not discouraged and are moving ahead as pioneers whilst smoothing the way for those waiting in the wings.

"This project will provide a wonderful opportunity for the brave, pioneering and struggling women artists and writers of Pakistan."