[Dateline: New York | Author: iSeek]
An exhibition of photographs taken by women and girls from conflict zones opened on Monday, 20 October in the South Lobby of the UN Secretariat in New York. A Global Crescendo: Women's Voices from Conflict Zones runs through 31 October 2008.
The photographs, displayed on banners, were taken in Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone. They reflect the strength and resilience of women and girls in post-conflict settings.
Armed with digital cameras and a little training, women in local communities document their own lives. Using their photographs, they advocate for themselves and make their voices heard in the public forum, and wherever possible. They also use their experience and their photographs to develop a prioritized agenda to achieve changes and to improve their lives.
The recurring themes that emerged from the photographs taken in the various countries are violence and the potential for violence against women. Violence against women occurs in different forms, including abandonment, hard labour and in some communities, lack of support from husband or partner.
The UN exhibition is jointly organized by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Office of the Special Advisor on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI) and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), with the support of the NoVo Foundation.
“A Global Crescendo” is a collaboration between the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Ms. Ann Jones, a writer/photographer and long-time women’s advocate. The project gives women and girls who have survived conflicts, displacement, discrimination and violence a chance to speak out.
Using women’s photographs and personal narratives, the project raises general public awareness of violence against women globally and advocate with policy makers and legislators internationally.
Giving women and girls in conflict-affected countries, whose voices are easily lost, an opportunity to share their experiences and to contribute to policy dialogues, is one way that the IRC is contributing to the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 (S/RES/1325). That resolution was unanimously passed on 31 October 2000 to address the impact of war on women, and to highlight women's contributions to conflict resolution and sustainable peace.
The IRC and Ms. Jones work with thousands of women and girls every day. “We know they have something to say and we know how easily their voices are lost,” said officials of the project.
“When I first got the camera, I was thinking, what kind of fool are you?” said Ms. Kebeh Jallah of the Women’s Action Group in Liberia. Ms. Jallah said initially, she was afraid to take pictures but when the men in her community started laughing at her, saying, “Women can’t take photos,” she got encouraged. “I went up to the men and said 'Let me take your picture.' I took it and showed it to them. I felt good. I can do it.”