Until May 28th , Myanmar Deitta Gallery is hosting an exhibition of photography by women farmers from rural parts of Myanmar.

Local NGO Land Core Group organized participatory photography workshops in Sagaing Division, Karen State and Tanintharyi Division and invited 19 women to attend the workshops.

“We worked with our local partners in the selected regions and looked for a range of women from the different villages and also a range of age groups, farming types and ethnicities,” said Catriona Knapman, workshop facilitator.

The women were given training in some photography skills and storytelling through photographs. The workshops aimed to give the women-all of who work with the land- a voice and allow them to document rural life from their own perspectives.

The exhibition is an expansive display of the photographs and photo essays created by the 19 women.

“They all work in rural areas and they are all involved in farming in some way.”

The photos show a wide variety of scenes and subjects including landscapes of crops, family members working the land together, women weaving and subjects performing religious activities. Teamed with captions and quotes, the photos tell compelling stories of the struggles the women encounter in their daily lives which can often be as a result of gender-based discrimination. We are shown not only how hard the women work for the livelihoods of their families, but also the close connection they hold with their land.

“In this project, we used participatory photography to give a voice to participants, without the normal barriers of public speaking or literacy,” reads literature provided at the exhibition.

Some of the featured photographers were present at the gallery for open days on Saturday and Sunday for meet-and-greet sessions.

Ma Kyi Kyi Swe from Dawei lives near mines at which she works along with her husband and son. She explained the gender-based superstitions which prevent some women from going inside the mines.

“There are superstitions from a long time ago that make people think women should not work in the mines. They think we bring bad luck,” said Ma Kyi Kyi Swe who is one of a few women defying the superstitions in order to earn a living for her family.

While the women were making their photo essays they were encouraged to document the difficulties as well as the joys they encounter throughout their lives. Perhaps none illustrate the difficulties better than the photo of a photographer’s daughter, still dressed in her white and green school uniform, packing up her belongings after her family was ordered to leave their land.

Under the photo to caption reads, “Situations like these are common in Dawei. Parents who can no longer earn a living from their land have to leave their children with grandparents and go abroad to work.”

The exhibition runs until May 28th at Myanmar Deitta Gallery on 44th Street (lower block) which is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm.


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