Location: New York, NY, United States
HeadStrong: The Women of Rural Uganda
This ongoing project, involving portrait photography and interviews, focuses on the unrecognized backbone of Uganda’s economy: the women of rural Uganda. Today these women face challenges posed by rapid population growth, a lack of infrastructure, and Uganda’s endemic corruption, which exacerbates their predicament. These portraits and stories will open a dialog on gender inequality in Ugandan society, the need for parity in education, and greater access to opportunities for personal growth.
This series focuses on the female quarry workers in Gulu. They are all independent works who break large rocks into gravel size pellets, earning 1000 UGX ($0.30) for every jerry can of gravel that they fill. They average 8 to 10 jerrycans per day. Most of them started working in the quarry because either their mothers were workers, or it was the only opportunity they had to earn any money for their family.
In developing this project, I realized that I needed to partner with someone locally so that I might fully understand and appreciate the cultural forces that the women deal with on a daily basis. I have collaborate with Beatrice Lamwaka, a well-known Ugandan author, who brings an essential East African female viewpoint to this project. Together, Beatrice and I developed a work plan to meet and interview women in rural areas, documenting their thoughts and feelings about family planning, education, health, economic well-being, and the future.
In making the photographs, I realize that the women should stand out from their hectic and often distracting, surroundings, both physically and metaphorically. That is why I choose to use mosquito netting as an outdoor backdrop whenever possible. The fabric’s semi-transparency connects the women to their environment and, at the same time, provides an allusive protection from it