National Geographic Photographers Share Photos of Strong Women for International Women’s Day

In honour of International Women’s Day, March 8, 2015, seven female National Geographic photographers shared a photo that revealed a woman’s experience. In a world where gender equality is still elusive, these photographs tell stories of hope, bravery, hardship, and survival.

 Haiti 1988 Philomene by Maggie Steber National Geographic photographer

Philomene, Haiti, 1988.  Photograph by Maggie Steber

Philomene was a schoolgirl in a small town called Beauchamps in the barren northwest of Haiti, where nothing grows except short mesquite trees. It is one of the largest charcoal-producing areas, and the overwhelming deforestation creates an impoverished landscape that beats people down. I photographed Philomene in 1988. By now she is a grown woman. In this photograph of her I see the great spirit and strength of the Haitian people. In Philomene’s face shines the pride in her country’s singular history as the first black republic in the world born of a successful slave revolt. She loved school and had determination to learn. I loved her dress, the tuft of her hair, and an air of possibility that surrounded her.

Haitian women are the ones who make Haiti run. They are the glue of this tiny nation, whether they are market women selling vegetables, charcoal, and used clothing, or middle-class and wealthier women running their own businesses or working as teachers or politicians. When a market woman walks down the street with a big basket or bucket of water balanced on her head, she walks like a queen. I saw this same thing in Philomene, a queen in the making.

The hope of Haiti’s future is in children. A hardscrabble life either crushes them or makes them stronger, and in this case, it made Philomene stronger. She held her head up high, even if she was poor. At least she could read, write, and add numbers. When I show my work on Haiti, I always end with Philomene because in her face is represented all the hope and dreams of a nation. And of women everywhere.—Maggie Steber


~ by artpoped on March 18, 2015.

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