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As Part of Alexandria Photo Week in Collaboration

With the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Egypt

Stories of “Women’s Resilience” Are Showcased by 17 International Photographers
at the French Institute in Alexandria

By Ahmed Fawzy

The World Press Photo Foundation has placed Egypt on the global cultural map by announcing the date of its new exhibition, titled “Resilience – Stories of Women Inspiring Change.” The exhibition, organized by Photopia, will be held at the French Institute in Alexandria as part of Alexandria Photo Week from February 1 to 10. In collaboration with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Egypt, the exhibition, addressing “women’s resilience, will continue until February 21.

The exhibition features a collection of distinguished stories that have won awards in the World Press Photo competition from 2000 to 2021. These stories shed light on the resilience and challenges faced by women and girls in societies worldwide. The foundation emphasized, “Despite women holding only 26.1% of approximately 35,500 parliamentary seats, 22.6% of over 3,400 ministerial positions, and 27% of all administrative positions in 2021, violence against women remains a serious issue, intersecting with global health and protection concerns. It is estimated that one in three women will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. Women worldwide also confront deeply rooted inequality in societies and are still underrepresented in political and economic positions. Hence, gender-based equality and justice are fundamental human rights crucial for supporting communities.

The exhibition reflects the commitment of Netherlands to women’s rights, justice, and gender equality. It presents diverse perspectives through the voices of 17 photographers from 13 different nationalities. Specifically, the exhibition addresses issues such as gender discrimination, social gender-based violence, reproductive rights, and equal opportunities. The selected group explores several stories illustrating the evolution of women’s issues and social gender dynamics in the twenty-first century, highlighting how photojournalism has evolved in presenting these issues.

The first story, titled “Finding Freedom in the Water,” by the American photographer Anna Boyiazis, focuses on the students of Kejetia Primary School learning to swim and perform rescue operations in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Muyuni Beach in Zanzibar. The story highlights the challenges faced by girls in the Zanzibar archipelago, where traditions discourage them from learning to swim, largely due to the absence of modest swimwear. The Bange Project trains local women and girls in swimming skills in an attempt to reduce high drowning rates.

As for the second story, it is titled “Crying for Freedom” by the Iranian photographer Forough Alaei. Through this story, she documents female football fans in Iran who are prohibited from entering stadiums. These women disguise themselves as men to access the stadiums and advocate for women’s rights. The third story, titled “The Promise,” by the Argentine photographer Irina Werning, presents the story of a 12-year-old girl named Antonella living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She pledged not to cut her hair until she could resume her studies disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Antonella considers her hair a precious treasure, and she cut it on September 25, 2021, symbolizing the restoration of her school life after the challenging period.

The exhibition also features the participation of several distinguished international photographers, including the Canadian photographer Finbarr O’Reilly, the Egyptian Hiba Khameis, and the Vietnamese photographer Maike Elan. Others include the Spanish Catalina Martin Chico, the Argentine Pablo Tosco, the British Olivia Harris, the American Terrell Groggins, Jonathan Bashman, the Australian Daniel Pehiolla, the New Zealander Robin Hammond, the Russian Diana Markosian, the Danish Jan Grarup, the Swedish Magnus Wennman, and the Italian Fulvio Bugani. Their works will be highlighted in this exhibition.

Photopia’s founder and executive director, Marwa Abu Leila, stated, “The participation of the World Press Photo Foundation goes beyond hosting this exhibition; there will be several lectures and discussions at the French Institute. On February 8, at three PM, a discussion, entitled “Women in Photojournalism”, will be held. The speakers are exhibition manager and curator at World Press Photo Foundation, Raphael Dias e Silva, along with Heba Khamis and Sara Younes. On the same day, at seven PM, a presentation of the winning works of the World Press Photo competition will be held at the Jesuit Cultural Center, in the presence of Raphael Dias e Silva, Heba Khamis, and Mohamed Mahdy who won the Open Coordination Award in the 2023 World Press Photo Journalism for the story “Here, Doors Do Not Recognize Me”. He also won the 2023 Photographic Image competition for Africa for the same story. Subsequently, the famous educational program of the World Press Photo, Joop Smart Masterclass, will be launched. On February 10, at six PM, a lecture on “Ethics in Photojournalism” will take place at the Jesuit Cultural Center, featuring Raphael Dias e Silva”.

About the World Press Photo Foundation:

The World Press Photo Foundation is a creative, independent, nonprofit organization, based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. We appreciate the support of our global partner, the Dutch Postcode Lottery, and our partner, PwC. The Foundation serves as a global platform, it connects photojournalists, documentary photographers, and the audience worldwide through trustworthy storytelling. Founded in 1955, the foundation originated when a group of Dutch photographers organized the “World Press Photo” competition to showcase their works to an international audience. Since then, the foundation’s mission has expanded, and its competitions have grown to become one of the prominent contests globally. The awards recognize the best works in the fields of photojournalism and documentary photography.

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