THE WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
A charity photo series for the women empowerment
The empowerment of women is still a really major topic in many countries even today in the 21st century. In fact recently, it seems as if a new scandal has been made public every single day in the western world. You could even think that it was a matter of course particularly in the photography, fashion and show & shine world of entertainment. Reason enough to counter this cliché, according to the photographer Alexander von Wiedenbeck, who is equally committed to equality for all people. He has been supporting the Austrian branch of the international CARE aid organisation’s women’s empowerment projects with his photography for many years.
In addition, Alexander von Wiedenbeck donates 25% of his net profit from all his photographs sold to the same CARE projects. We think this is a wonderful thing and that’s why we at the BLACK BOX GALLERY® are also matching this with 25% of our net profit from all the photographs sold from the Humans – (Episode) Women’s Rights series.
Be a part of it and support the project now by buying an fine art print from the Humans – (Episode) Women’s Rights series! Click here for the photo series.
ALEXANDER VON WIEDENBECK ABOUT HIS EXPERIENCES
Women Empowerment in Nepal
I accompanied a team of journalists and CARE employees to Kathmandu in Nepal on my own initiative. I was supposed to document the project as far as the province in photos, but naturally you cannot avoid noticing the women’s circumstances today and listening to the stories of the old days. I was really shocked by an older woman’s story, who has been washing her husband’s feet every day in the morning and then drinking that washing water her whole life and even still now. I curiously enquired about the sense and purpose of this disgusting tradition and as one might expect, it is to show reverence to the husband. For he is a creature sent by God to take care of the woman, the family and it is an honour for the woman to be allowed to drink this dirty water. By contrast of course, it’s the women who work all day, be it in the home or in the fields, as the men who “take care of the family” spend most of the day stoned in the shade of the trees.
I was totally startled one day when I wanted to take a photo of a woman with a plough in the fields and a man suddenly jumped out at me from the shade of a tree and started running towards me. No, no, no, he called out to me, signalling with exaggerated gestures, telling me that he’s the one who feeds his family and if I’m going to photograph anyone then it should be him…. which I naturally declined of course. When we moved on, I could see how he had laid back down again in the shade while his wife had to work the plough under the blazing sun in temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius.
At the end of my trip though there was another incident that made me very aware of fate. Two days before my flight home, I contracted really serious food poisoning and had to be flown out of the province the day after to the nearest hospital in Kathmandu. During my treatment there I was informed that I should stay there a few days until I felt much better. But as my flight was already booked and it was too complicated to rebook it, I left the hospital at my own risk following long discussions with the consultant. When I returned to Germany the next day, I discovered with horror on the TV at Munich airport that just after my flight home on 25 April 2015 there had been one of the most serious earthquakes in Nepal’s history and more than half of Kathmandu city had been destroyed. If I had followed the doctors’ advice and stayed at the hospital, a far worse fate than “just” food poisoning might have awaited me.
Women Empowerment in Uganda
The international project on strengthening women’s rights by CARE Austria, which I travelled to Kathmandu in Nepal for in April 2015, was now taking me to the African continent and Uganda. A country which was still embroiled in a civil war 10 years ago and is still visibly shaped by the scars of this tense time today. Banks are guarded by security personnel with machine guns and the hotel’s security precautions are similar to those at the industrial nations’ summit meetings.
In contrast to Nepal, the hardships of this trip well and truly pushed me to my limits this time. Once I’d arrived in the depths of the province, flowing water and electricity were just sporadic treats. The heat during the day was almost unbearable, the cold well water in the province was not really a good alternative for my European stomach, leaving us with just heated up water to take on our long car journey. The catering was not any better, a chicken that passed us five minutes beforehand on a moped’s luggage rack with its head bobbing between the wheel’s spokes was presented to us whole a little bit later as a “soup”. My travelling companions from CARE Austria, considerably more experienced and toughened up, kept a straight face while eating it, while I personally just ate rice for days.
It was fascinating for me to see how the CARE projects were bearing fruits here and the women have a clear and noticeably important role in everyday life in the country’s most remote corners. They are integrating themselves into a leading role in agriculture, are allowed to own and manage land and are even politically involved in the community now. A situation that would have been inconceivable 5 years ago. Women’s self-empowerment is spreading through all areas. Dance, drama is very important in the women’s free time and a specially rehearsed play was to illustrate to us the development here thanks to the women’s empowerment projects.
The passion, joy and love as well as the hard work, effort and also the risk of self-empowerment provide a positive vision of the future where Uganda and Nepal continue to develop and the days when women’s rights were not respected are now a thing of the past.