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
Photographing the turmoil in Egypt was a profound experience for me as an Egyptian. I saw grown men weep like children and elderly women scream at the top of their lungs like warriors. I also met women like Safeya whose tears have seeped deep into the ground. I go back to this photograph often. I wonder about her expression, which always struck me as somewhere between peace and sadness. I ask myself how she can muster the strength. I met other mothers whose sons were killed in the revolution. One of them told me she often goes out on the street looking for her son among his friends. Another told me she catches herself having conversations with her son while she’s in the kitchen cooking or sitting in the living room. I wonder if Safeya goes through this too. Does she still wear black? I wonder how the future of Egypt will look back at hundreds, if not thousands, of people like Safeya whose lives changed forever in the course of the struggle to achieve dignity and respect for all.--Laura El-Tantawy
Cynthia and her family were brave enough to agree. At home she told me how difficult her pregnancy was. “When I was pregnant all I had to eat was cereal. Cereal, cereal, cereal. There was nothing else in the house.” Meeting Cynthia and her family, and witnessing up close the extreme disparity between those who have and those who have less in a sprawling Houston suburb, was unsettling. Cynthia brought her fetus to term on empty calories. Why? Is her health and the health of her infant any less important than any other mother’s? To me, the persistence of food insecurity in a wealthy nation like the United States reflects a society that chooses to value certain lives over others. On International Women’s Day let’s resolve to fight for all lives to be valued equally.--Kitra Cahana
She was in a public place. Certainly a male photographer could have made a photograph. But as a woman I think she felt safe with me, safe enough to stay in her thoughts and allow me to see for a moment her burdens and dreams without turning away.--Nina Berman
Over the next four years, as I photographed, we became friends. My presence in a court hearing prevented her from a third felony conviction that would have put her away for life. I watched her rise above her violent past to turn her life around. Women who are victims of violence and domestic abuse have a hard road to travel. My story didn’t change her life, but I believe I gave her hope. I know I am wiser having known her.--Melissa Farlow
I ended up spending a lot of time with Naima, who had fled Somalia with her family, lived for years in a refugee camp in Africa, and was eventually resettled in the United States in 2001. When I met her she was 17 years old, juggling school and friends while also taking care of her parents, who struggled more than she did with the language and new surroundings. They relied on her for many adult tasks and expected her to uphold and represent their culture.
I learned a lot from Naima—she was brave and funny and had a giant heart. In this picture we were hanging out by the harbor when the wind grabbed her head scarf. She held tight and struggled to gather it back together to reshape it into something that would hold.--Amy Toensing
source: nationalgeographic.com by Jessie Wender