“I like to tell intimate stories in conflict areas, so the subjects of my stories are usually at risk in some way. They trust me and I think they open up so much easier because I am a woman. I don’t think my work would have happened as quickly if I were a man. But recently I was on an assignment for an NGO in a very remote area of Northern Congo. There were some nomadic people in the area, very interesting and especially photogenic but they were in an area especially hard to get to. Because I am a woman, the NGO would not provide transportation b/c they said if the LRA attacked the region they would rape me. But there had been no LRA presence in that region because there are no elephants there and the LRA mostly attack while looking for elephants and ivory. I have experience in the Congo and I knew what the potential risks were and was willing to take them but the NGO would not budge and it was too expensive for me to hire private transportation to get there on my own. However when a male colleague showed up who had less experience in the region they offered him the opportunity to go up to the region with the nomadic people. The thing is, if the LRA caught men, they could be killed. The male photographer was allowed the choice to take the risk or not, but I wasn’t. This is one of the reasons why there is so little work coming from women in these areas. It’s not that we can’t endure the hardships. It’s that our opportunities are blocked…” Diana Zeyneb Alhindawi is a photojournalist who uses photography to explore the human condition across a variety of political and cultural contexts.”
“There I was, a 30 year old woman, a college faculty member and owner of a sexual harassment management firm that trains government agencies, sitting on the floor in my home being beaten and held hostage at gunpoint by my former boyfriend. My Master’s thesis was on Title 7 about awareness, perception and attitudes about sexual harassment and here I was with a shotgun to my sternum, praying to stay alive. I spent my whole life telling myself I was not going to be THIS woman. But I grew up knowing domestic and sexual violence, and girls who experience domestic or sexual violence are 7 times more likely to experience it again as an adult. At one point while being held hostage, I got up and went to the sink to run cold water over my wrists because his fingernails had dug into my arms so deeply that I was bleeding. While the cold water ran over my wrists, he said, “What the fuck is wrong with you?” And I said, “You hurt me. I’m bleeding.” To which he replied, “Yeah? Well, go write a fucking poem about it.” So I did. I wrote a book of poems so that I could write it all down and then close the book on it. Then open a new book and start again. I never meant to publish it, but colleagues encouraged me to publish the book and to educate people about the pandemic of violence against women. The only way we are going to change violence against women is by addressing it again and again. So I published my poems as, the scorched earth (http://doramcquaid.com/?page_id=108), using my personal story and my voice in the public realm as one story of hope, empowerment and change.”
– Dora McQuaid is an award winning poet, activist and speaker. In 2012, McQuaid’s image replaced that of former Penn State coach and convicted pedophile, Jerry Sandusky, in the Inspirations Mural near Penn State, to honor her activism and her being a Penn State University alumna and former faculty member.
“When I am doing street photography I think being a woman works in my favor. When I am doing photojournalism work, I’m not sure being a woman works in my favor. Most of the time when I’m shooting assignments I wish that I were a few inches taller.” Erica Price is a documentary photographer based in NYC.