Women Unlimited is an exhibition about women, by women, to coincide with International Women’s Day 2016.
Oxfam works with women around the world to fight discrimination - and the poverty it causes - wherever we find it. Today, we’re helping more than one million women and girls to confront the multifaceted, culturally-diverse challenges they face around the globe.
Magnum photographers Cristina Garcia Rodero, Bieke Depoorter, Newsha Tavakolian and Olivia Arthur visited Oxfam projects in communities in Armenia, Chad, Wales and Sri Lanka. The women they met and photographed represent progress and hope – they are actively taking charge of their lives not only to ensure the survival of their families but to lead the way for future generations. And they are not alone. They are part of a growing movement of women, and men, who are fighting poverty together.
As this movement grows, more women will be able to live without limits – and one day poverty will be undone.
Exhibition curated by Lauren Heinz
ARMENIA / CHRISTINA GARCIA RODERO
Ayrum, in northern Armenia, was once famous for its canned food factory, which employed over 1,800 workers making quality jams and preserves. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, production at the factory ceased and local residents had two options: either look for work abroad or sell seasonal crops along the roadside. The Lchkadzor Co-op was officially formed in 2011, when the women of Ayrum decided that the only way to make a living from their fruit was to find a way to build a small fruit-processing plant. It was an ambitious plan, yet with Oxfam’s support the town celebrated the opening of the brand new plant in October 2014. Fifty percent of the workforce are women, andmany hold senior positions.
WALES / NEWSHA TAVAKOLIAN
In northern Wales, 60% of the working age population claim employment benefits in the seaside town of Rhyl, the highest rate for any Welsh ward. And Caia Park, a community in Wrexham County, is the third most deprived in Wales, where over 1,500 people suffer from physical or sensory disabilities. Oxfam supports marginalised women in these areas through ongoing intensive emotional and practical support, including advice on work and finances. From a weekly crafting group, where women get together as an informal therapy to listen and share, to one-on-one mentoring by a trained professional, these women are fighting to reclaim control of their lives with the invaluable encouragement of other women.
CHAD / BIEKE DEPOORTER
In Chad’s arid Bahr el Gazal region, successive droughts have reduced available food and pasture, and poor veterinary care has resulted in rising animal mortality – forcing already vulnerable communities further into poverty. Working with its local partner AIDER, Oxfam is helping farmers, particularly women, to earn an income through growing vegetables and breeding chickens, so they are better able to cope with droughts. And Oxfam has also set up a veterinary programme to train animal health workers, including women, in veterinary care. As such, herding families are able to secure more food in the face of increasingly dry conditions.
SRI LANKA / OLIVIA ARTHUR
For 30 years people in the northern and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka suffered the consequences of a prolonged and brutal conflict between rebel forces and the government. Families lost their land and homes, saw their livelihoods destroyed and were displaced for many years. Now that the conflict is over Oxfam is working closely with communities in the region to help re-build by reestablishing agricultural production and empowering women to improve their status and earning potential. Dairy cooperatives have been set up to train farmers to take care of cattle and offer loans for buying high-breed cows. The cooperatives have increased the income of vulnerable families and have given women the opportunity to earn a living.
The feature for March 2016 was Women Unlimited by Magnum photographers and Oxfam