25 February 2011

Dennys Photo Gallery: Invisible Women Around The World

International Women's DayImage by George via Flickr

From Denny: Featured here are some amazing portraits of elderly women around the world, one is my own photo taken of a mountain woman in Taiwan. One had a story from Mexico about the portrait from the photographer.  The majority of the photos are from Creative Commons at Flickr.  Just click on the photos to take you to the photographers' pages.

These photos certainly give us something to think about in the way of women's rights and women's issues all over the world in every country and every culture.  These are the lives of some women and how they are perceived through the eyes of a lens.

Remember: 8 March 2011 is International Womens Day

Old Woman

Photo by Luigi Morante @ flickr, an Italian living in Paris, France.

Doña Ignacia de barro

Doña Ignacia de barro - Photo by arantxamex, aka Arantxa, @ flickr, from
Morelia, Michoacán, México.

From the photographer, the story of the photo:

"Doña Ignacia comes to Morelia from Zinapécuaro, another town nearby. She says, with the same expression as a worker that comes to do his job, that she came "to ask for my coins".

Her legs aches, she has lost an eye ("some viruelas that I had when I was little") and in the one that has left, you can see the white clouds of "catarata" (an oftalmologic illness that avoids to see properly and sometimes causes blindness). She says that her daughter doesn't see very well too. I found Doña Ignacia sometimes in Morelia and when I see her, I stop to talk a little.

From her lips I cannot hear another complaint than the one that the aches of her knees make go out. When I say goodbye, I allways have with me all the blessings and even God: "God shall take good care of you", she says.

The first version of this story:

I'm meeting Madam Ignacia Sanchez Botello, that every week comes to Morelia " to ask for my alms". At the age of 85, tours the arcade walking slowly and unsteady. From time to time, somebody feels sorry and stretching his arm puts in her dark parchment tanned hand a coin.
She wears plain clothes from the people in the country and covers her head with a blue and black striped shawl, the one women in Michoacan use. One of her eyes is permanently covered by her eyelid, that seems to be pasted with the skin.
"It kept like that after the smallpox, when I was a child, I was about 13 years old. On that time there weren't things like now" She told me later. The other eye is open but covered by the distinctive white cloud of cataract. She admits she can't see clearly and I asked her if she would like to have an operation so that she can see clearly again, then she replied she has no money.
I introduce myself as a member of the Health Secretary's Office and explain her that there's a program set for operating cataracts, with no cost. "but we have to know before if it is cataract what you have in your eye." I told her.

On our way to the children's hospital that we went to look for an ophthalmologist, she kept talking telling me about her life. She lives in Zinapécuaro (a municipality 40 or 50 minutes from Morelia), though she can't determine exactly where. "Just going down from the Medical Center" She reached to tell me.

She's got a daughter that can't see clearly either, she always has red eyes. Her daughter had bad luck, all her sons and husband "are bad and get drunk and are always thereabouts". Her sons went to the North (USA) since the "work turned up there". One of them was injured and now he is paralyzed.

Doña Ignacia has two other children, a son and a daughter. The girl is working and the boy, the boy as his nephews, gets drunk and is thereabouts. Her husband died eight years ago. He was a policeman in Zinapécuaro, and as Doña Ignacia let me guess by her words, he wasn't a good odd man either.

We got to the Hospital, and unluckily (it seems to be her duty), the doctor Tanganxoan has already gone. We agree then that I will make her know when the doctor will be in Zinapécuaro, or when she can come to Morelia to be tested by any ophthalmologist.

Before we farewell, we went to the "cocina economica" next to hospital. There's only left "comida corrida": soup, and a small chicken piece in sauce, "frijoles" and rice. Doña Ignacia eats as much as a little bird and barely can finish the soup. Her hand shakes every time the spoon approaches her mouth. I suggested her to take the remaining food in a throw-away container.

I asked a taxi to bring her to the bus station, those that goes to Zinapécuaro, the one that is near the river, and I told her goodbye, I hoped she wouldn't get lost. If only we could help her to regain the sight in her only eye !

If she doesn't get lost, if finally a doctor says that it is cataract what she has in her eye, maybe she wants to go to Cuba to be operated on her only eye and regain the sight. We wont be able to relieve her from all her problems, not from all her pains (her knees hurts when walking, doctors say it is reuma, and that there's nothing that can be done) but maybe we can, at least once, evade or outwit the bad luck that seems to follow this lady."

Old woman

Old woman - Photo by Saad.Akhtar, from New Delhi, India

Old Woman - Prejmer - Romania

Old Woman - Prejmer - Romania. Photo by Adam Jones, Ph.D., from
Kelowna, BC, Canada

An old lady from Ravangla

An Old Lady From Ravangla - Photo by Sukanto Debnath, from Hyderabad, India.

Old Woman, Antigua, Guatemala

Old Woman, Antigua, Guatemala

"This is one of my favorite people photos and I'm sure there are stories behind that face." - Photo by marlin harms @ flickr

Old Woman

Old Woman Portrait - Photo by Two Roses, aka Petr & Bara Ruzicka, @ flickr, from Prague, CZ

heavy old woman

An interesting face - Photo by obenson, aka Owen Benson, @ flickr, from Chippenham, UK

Old woman feeding the pigeons

Old woman feeding the pigeons - Photo by Christian Haugen @ flickr, from Trondheim, Norway. He has a travel blog

Old woman reading

Old Woman Reading - Photo by quinn.anya @ flickr, aka Quinn Dombrowski, from Chicago, Illinois, USA

Old woman, Porto

Old woman, Porto, Spain - photo by Simon Blackley @ flickr, from Brussels, Belgium.

Old Calcutta 19 - Old woman at fountain

Old Calcutta - Old Woman At Fountain. Photo by suvodeb, aka Suvodeb Banerjee, @ flickr.

Old Women Gathering in Plaza Corredera, Cordoba, Spain. Photo by mcohen.chromiste @ flickr, from Strasbourg, France.

Old woman washing a bike. Photo by mcohen.chromiste @ flickr

Old Woman

Old Woman

Photo by Luigi Morante @ flickr, an Italian currently living in Paris, France.

Woman with Burqa

Woman with Burqa

The photo shows a woman with burqa in a little sandstorm, near of Balkh.

Photo by Dirk Haas of Germany and AfghanistanMatters @ flickr

I am a woman...

"I am a woman..." by liber (the poet) @ flickr

Poster for the rights of Afghan women living in abject poverty and under the constant fear of death in the refugee camps.

source image by:

concept, design and retouched by:
liber(the poet); liberthepoet.blogspot.com

And, a haunting photo I took a long time ago as a teenager. It was when my father was stationed in Taiwan back in 1970. I went to an American boarding school on the island and spent the summer volunteering with medical missionaries as a nurse's aide. We went up into the mountains of southern Taiwan where there were villages of people completely cut off from the technological world. This poor lady was beaten down by poverty. She was there with a sick relative. At the time we were doing eye surgery for cataracts primarily, though I saw some horrific skin conditions as a result of poor sanitation and open sewerage of people living in primitive conditions.

This woman has stayed with me all these years. I've dragged this photo around for decades, from country to country, house to newer house. I've always thought about her and always prayed for her and her village ever since. Her sadness and despair were so strong you could almost reach out and touch it.

To take the photo I remember kneeling down quietly near her, into almost a little ball to mirror how she was sitting curled up on her haunches. It was a typical posture among the Taiwanese you would see even in the bustling cities.

She looked at me with her weary eyes and I asked her for permission for her portrait with my eyes. I didn't rush her but waited patiently until she got used to me - and then she assented. At the time, few photographers, professional or otherwise, used this technique to take a photo at the same level as the subject.

But, I sensed she was concerned about all these white foreigners in her village and not too sure about what I was doing. I'm not sure she had ever seen a camera. She reminded me of a cat, watching and thinking. So, I treated her like a cat and waited until she decided she felt comfortable, not pushing her for too much too soon as is often the case of some photographers.

Even though the missionaries were fluent in many dialects of the Chinese this village was so remote no one else knew their language. Communication was difficult and often was conducted in about three dialects and a smattering of a couple of other languages, words that sounded familiar to them.

Taiwan mountain woman grey scale

Taiwan Mountain Woman Photo by Denny Lyon @ flickr - from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

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