Afghani Refugee brings Women’s Rights into Focus with Exhibition and Forum

Tuggeranong Arts Centre 12 February 2019
Hangama Obaidullah. Photo supplied.

Hangama Obaidullah. Photo: Supplied.

Global women’s rights issues will be brought to the fore when artist and Afghani refugee Hangama Obaidullah presents a special women’s forum, ‘Dark Histories, Bright Futures,’ at Tuggeranong Arts Centre as part of Refugee Week 2018.

The forum is being held alongside an exhibition of Hangama’s paintings, photography and hand-embroidered fabric, Street Children of Kabul and other works, which will be on display at the Arts Centre throughout June.

Hangama came to Australia from Afghanistan as a refugee in August 2003. At that time she spoke no English. Since arriving in Australia, Hangama has studied English, completed High School in Sydney, and moved to Canberra in 2010 where she is currently studying for a Bachelor of Writing at University of Canberra. She has also developed her arts practice in painting, drawing, photography and writing.

Hangama’s work draws on her Afghani heritage, her homeland and its history. She espouses an aesthetic and philosophy of beauty, grace and community service. Her goal is to assist other Afghani women and children though her visual arts practice and her writing.

Hangama Obaidullah, Street child 1, 2018. Photograph

Hangama Obaidullah, Street child 1, 2018. Photo: Supplied.

Hangama says, “I came from a dark society. I came from a painful experience but I have focused on education and creativity. I believe that knowledge can give the power to wash away our darkness.”

With this determination to share knowledge and help others in mind, Hangama is hosting ‘Dark Histories, Bright Futures’ on June 21st, which will explore many of the struggles faced by women worldwide.

The forum will be chaired by Barbara Baikie, President of the National Council for Women Australia, an organisation whose work aims to identify and address structural impediments to equity and security. Baikie is also a member of the Rotary Club of Hall who sponsored Hangama’s exhibition and an active advocate for a number of charitable and social justice causes, including the just treatment of refugees to Australia.

Also speaking will be anti-slavery expert Heather Moore from The Salvation Army and local writer Mina Zaki.

Mina Zaki. Photo supplied.

Mina Zaki. Photo: Supplied.

Moore has over fifteen years’ experience in the anti-slavery and forced migration fields with a particular interest in the connection between migrant worker exploitation and forced labour; domestic workers working for diplomats; and strengthening the role of trade unions in anti-trafficking.

Zaki is a member of Tuggeranong Arts Centre’s In Our Own Words writing group. The group, which meets fortnightly under the mentorship of British-Pakistani author Irfan Master, provides a space for emerging writers from migrant backgrounds to develop their skills.

The event will also feature music by Bernard Nitya Parker – a Canberra based musician and composer whose music crosses jazz and world genres.

‘Dark Histories, Bright Futures’ will be held at Tuggeranong Arts Centre at 6pm on Thursday 21st of June. It is a free event, but please register by emailing

Street Children of Kabul and other works will be on display at Tuggeranong Arts Centre from 7 – 30 June.

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