Women of Concern

Photographs by Brenda Fitzsimons • Kim Haughton • Marie McCallan
  March 2010

From the exhibition “Women of Concern”. © Kim Haughton 2010

The Gallery of Photography is proud to present the premiere exhibition of Women of Concern. Formed in 2009, Women of Concern, is an opportunity for women across Ireland to join in solidarity with women in the developing world to improve their lives. These women are, in so many ways, just like us.

They have dreams and aspirations for themselves and their families; they want their children to have a decent education, to be healthy and safe, to have the opportunity to make a good living, and to have a future.

When a woman is healthy, educated, and empowered, she is in a better position to earn an income which benefits her family and community, and to raise children who thrive.

Women of Concern is supporting three projects to improve the lives of vulnerable women in Haiti, Bangladesh and Ethiopia. Our work will educate girls, provide women with the means to improve their economic situation, and reduce the suffering caused by gender based violence.

The Photographers: In early 2010, three photographers travelled to some of the world’s poorest countries: Haiti, Ethiopia and Bangladesh to document the lives of women living there. Their stunning photographs show the strength and perseverance of women living in desperate situations, from the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, to rural Ethiopia and the streets of Dhaka in Bangladesh. They also show how, with your support, Concern can work with women to help improve their lives and the lives of their families and communities.

Brenda Fitzsimons – Haiti
Brenda Fitzsimons is one of Ireland’s leading press photographers working today, and the first woman staff photographer with The Irish Times. A native of Galway, Brenda moved to Dublin in 1989 and joined the Irish Press as a staff photographer until its closure in 1995. She freelanced for the Irish Star newspaper until joining The Irish Times in 2000. Brenda has won numerous awards including the A.T. Cross Photographer of the Year, Freelance Photographer of the Year and the most coveted PPAI Press Photographer of the Year Award. (Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times)

Brenda originally planned to visit our micro-finance programme; however she was forced to abandon her original plans following the catastrophic earthquake. Instead, Brenda brings us haunting images from Haiti in the aftermath of the worse earthquake in Haiti’s living memory. Brenda’s photographs have been solarised and colour enhanced to produce a set of art images.

‘It is impossible to find words to describe the situation in Haiti following the earthquake, which is why I felt privileged to be able to photograph the situation. What was astonishing, was that despite the horror which was everywhere, people – and especially the women – were trying so hard to forge ahead with their lives, caring for their loved ones, washing and feeding their children, trying to rebuild their future.’

Women coming together to celebrate Mass in the open with their unshakeable faith was one of the most moving things I witnessed and displayed the true resilience and courage of the Haitian people.’

Kim Haughton – Ethiopia
Kim Haughton is an award winning photojournalist and lecturer in Documentary Photography. She is a graduate of the Dublin Institute of Technology School of Photography. She has documented issues in over twenty countries throughout her career so far, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Her work regularly appears in publications worldwide. Recently, she has been experimenting with documentary film making, earning her an award for her first short. She is represented by Via Visuals and Polaris Images.

On returning from Ethiopia Kim said, ‘Capturing emotion and feeling in a photograph is what has always interested me the most. Despite their harrowing experiences, the strength and dignity of the Ethiopian women that I met is testimony to the power of the human spirit. I came away thinking how I got so much more from them in those terms than I could ever give’. www.kimhaughton.com

Marie McCallan – Bangladesh
Photographer Marie McCallan moved to Ireland in 1994 from Scotland when she finished college in Glasgow. Having spent over a year as a photographer in a design studio in Co. Tyrone, she moved to Co. Clare in 1997 to be close to her family, and joined Press 22 in Limerick.

Since 1997 Marie has worked as a photo-journalist with Press 22, which has also taken her to work in the four corners of Ireland as well as Israel, France, Belarus and now Bangladesh. (Marie McCallan / Press22)

Marie told us, ‘I met dignified, gentle, generous and graceful women with harrowing stories and circumstances during my visit to Bangladesh. It was very encouraging to witness the positive changes Concern and its partners are making to their lives.’

YOUR CONCERN REALLY CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

By joining Women of Concern, by encouraging your friends and colleagues to join, you will be helping women in some of the world’s poorest countries have a better life, for themselves and their families.