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Launched TUESDAY March 3, 2020 on www.zReportage.com Story #726: GRIT And GRACE: Women at Work: From India to Africa, tea fields to technology, women are the resilient hard-working backbones of their communities. Many of these women live in post-conflict or hard-to-reach areas, yet illuminate their shared determination to create better futures for their families through their creativity, ingenuity, and drive. These women from Africa, Asia and Latin America share stories of how they have risen above their circumstances to empower themselves through their tenacity and resiliency. On average, women make up just over 40 percent of the global agricultural labor force, yet own less than 20 percent of the land. Many have joined co-ops to learn the skills of building their business from kitchen garden to profitable business. Microloans and mobile money are taking women to another level. By starting their own businesses women are opening bank accounts and taking control of their own money. In many of these war torn countries, especially the Congo where a women is raped each minute of every day, nearly every woman has suffered some unspeakable atrocity. The numeracy, literacy, and job-training programs offered to these women gives them usable work skills. This offers them not only a sense of financial stability but equally as important it gives them a sense of self worth through like-minded community. Ask any of them why they do these jobs and it’s for the education and betterment of their children. Women in these countries are always somehow going to be the ones to figure it out for their families. Empowering women in the developing world not only benefits their immediate family, it benefits their whole village, their nation, our world.
© Alison Wright/ZUMA Wire
Afghan women police Officers at a firing range in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. Women police officers are shown here in training practice at a shooting range in Bamiyan. Today, women compromise 70% of Bamiyan's police force, an unusual statistic for this country. Since the start of the Taliban's rule women working outside the home has become rare in Afghanistan. According to World Bank figures, female labor force participation rate is at 19%, startlingly low compared to Western countries where 50-60% is typical. These Bamiyan policewomen play a pivotal role in reducing violence against women, giving security and confidence to female victims of human rights.
© Alison Wright/ZUMA Wire
ANGELA is a trash-picker in Granada, Nicaragua. Women who are widowed or abandoned by their husbands and fathers are left with little recourse to care for their families in Nicaragua. These single women and young girls sort through one of the largest garbage dumps in Central America, searching for recycling that will bring them a dollar a day as a means to support their families.
© Alison Wright/ZUMA Wire
PARUTI is a Dalit Hindu, of the untouchable caste, working as street sweeper in Jhenaidah, Bangladesh. There are about 5.5 million Dalit across the country, they are considered the most neglected caste in their society, living together in slums and working mostly as street sweepers and toilet cleaners. Paruti makes about 2500 Bangladesh TK a month, or 5. She has four children. Her husband is also a street sweeper.
© Alison Wright/ZUMA Wire
Thousands of women like SUJO migrate from rural villages to work in the 5,000 garment factories in the city of Dhakha. Since the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in 2013 managers have been under pressure to create safer conditions for their workers, including fire safety and healthcare. This factory supplies clothing chains like H&M, Zara and Marks & Spencer. Sujo works as a sewing machine operator. She is recently married and her husband also works here.
© Alison Wright/ZUMA Wire
HISAE is an 'Ama' (Sea Women) Free-Diver in Osatu. It is considered that the Japanese practice of 'ama' traditional free-diving has been passed down through female generations for about 2000 years. These women collect seaweed, conch, lobster, abalone and shellfish. They became more in demand with the discovery of the cultured pearl in 1893, giving them the name 'ama' pearl divers, In the early morning hours these women, who until recently wore only a loincloth, apply oil and warm themselves by the fire in the warming hut to prepare for a day of diving in frigid waters. The men drive the boats and help haul the catch, but the women are considered to be better divers due to the distribution of their fat and their ability to hold their breath. Most of the women remaining in this job are now well into their 70s and are thought to live longer due to their diving training and disciplines. Hisae Okano, shown here, is 75, and as third-generation divers, these women are probably the last. The younger women in the village don't want to pursue this profession and have moved to the cities to find more modern occupations.
© Alison Wright/ZUMA Wire
These three women share a room in the red light district. SARITA has lived in this brothel for 20 years, working as a sex worker. One of her regular customers became her 'husband', a common practice among sex workers here in which women are dedicated only to individual men. ANJU also lives here as a sex worker, and PARVATI lives under her bed. Many women who end up here have been sold by husbands or hustlers, drugged, or tricked with the promise of a legitimate job. These women make a couple of dollars per client, often sending whatever money they make home to support their families.
© Alison Wright/ZUMA Wire
KADATU KAMARA is a fruit vendor and makes about $40 a month selling mangos in the rural village of Port Loko, Sierra Leone. Seventy percent of women in Sierra Leone live on less than one dollar a day. Women like Kadatu earn very little because they depend on unstable seasonal trades.
© Alison Wright/ZUMA Wire
GUADALUPE is a Coffee Farmer in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. Coffee is one of the world's most highly-traded commodities, and since it came to Nicaragua in the mid-1800s, it has played a significant role in the country's economy and environment. Due to their strained economic conditions, women are more likely to be hired to work on the country's 40,000 coffee plantations, as they are willing to accept lower wages than men. In Nicaragua, women undertake 70 percent of the work in the industry yet own just 23 percent of the land, facilities, and products.
© Alison Wright/ZUMA Wire
PATIENCE receives her three-month Depo-Provera contraceptive shot from THERESA GLOLI, a trained midwife and nurse in Liberia. Theresa manages a family planning health clinic that she sets up in the middle of the market in Gbarnga every Friday, knowing that its the busiest day of the week for women to shop. In The Moment of Lift, Melinda Gates writes, 'When women are able to time and space their pregnancies, they're more likely to advance their education, earn an income, raise healthy children, and have the time and money to give each child the food, care, and education to thrive. In fact, no country in the last fifty years has emerged from poverty without expanding access to contraceptives. Contraceptives are the greatest life-saving, poverty-ending, women-empowering innovation ever created.'
© Alison Wright/ZUMA Wire
HELENA MARODA, Agricultural Co-op farmer, Morogoro, Tanzania. In Tanzania women like Helena have joined co-ops to learn the skills of building their business from kitchen garden to profitable business. Helena works in a Tanzanian cornfield that serves as a demonstration plot to teach others how to grow corn more successfully. Eight other women collectively work the roughly eight acres of land. Increasing women's access to land, livestock, education, financial services, technology and rural employment will boost their productivity and generate gains in terms of agricultural production, food security and social welfare. Closing the gender gap in agricultural inputs alone could lift 100-150 million people out of hunger.
© Alison Wright/ZUMA Wire
Agricultural Farmers working in a field in Mafinda, Sierra Leone. This swampland is managed by a group of women in Mafinda. Each woman has her own plot of land, but they have learned the power of working together. Each one receives training, seeds, and fertilizers from the international NGO BRAC, and together they grow corn, peppers and tomatoes to sell in the market. In developing countries, 43 percent of agricultural workers are women, but they often lack rights to the land; have limited access to water, fertilizer, seeds, credit, and training; and spend more time on unpaid work than rural men or urban men and women do. It is estimated that if women farmers had access to the same resources as men, there could be 150 million fewer hungry people in the world.
© Alison Wright/ZUMA Wire
KAMALA CHAUDHARY is a female motorcycle mechanic in Dang, Nepal. In the western Dang District of Nepal, The Nepal Youth Foundation (NYF) has helped to eradicate the centuries-old practice known as Kamlari, in which Tharu girls are sold into servitude or bonded labor. The foundation gave piglets to families so they could sell the piglets at the end of the year instead of their daughters‚ telling statement as to what a girl is worth in this country. These girls are now free, getting educated and working in jobs that give them financial independence and self-respect. Kamala Chaudhary, 22, worked as a Kamlari for six years and was freed 11 years ago. She managed to go to school, then do automobile training, and with a $300 loan from NYF, she was able to open her own automobile mechanics shop.
© Alison Wright/ZUMA Wire
Gbongar is a Plastic Goods Vendor in Monrovia, Liberia. GBONGAR KAMARA received a loan from a microfinance program, run by an NGO called BRAC, which allowed her to start selling plastic goods in the Red Hill market in Monrovia, Liberia. Women here meet in weekly groups to repay their loans, and if one cannot pay back her loan that week, the other women will chip in and help her. Gbongar is proud that her business is doing well; she makes about $300 per month.
© Alison Wright/ZUMA Wire
The Nepal Youth Foundation has helped to eradicate the centuries-old Kamlari practice where Tharu girls are sold into servitude or bonded labor. These girls are now free, getting educated and working in jobs that give them financial independence and self respect. NIRMALA, an ex-Kamlari, now runs a small farm with pigs, gathering fodder for her animals here in the Dang District of Nepal.
© Alison Wright/ZUMA Wire
Women during a cooking Class, learn how to make Belgian waffles. One woman is raped every minute in the DRC.These atrocious attacks are an ongoing 'weapon of war' committed by rebels and even local police and militants. The numeracy, literacy, and job training programs offered by the non-governmental organization (NGO) Women for Women gives these women usable work skills. When asked how they can possibly effuse so much joy after enduring such atrocities, they reply, 'Its the work‚ it brings us a sense of purpose, community, belonging, and safety.'
© Alison Wright/ZUMA Wire
KHIN NEW AYEM is a baker in Bago. Her posture shows how the work is taking a toll. Her whole family helps run the business. Her husband runs deliveries on his motorbike and truck. Ayem used to run a small home-based bakery business, but she received microloan from BRAC for $150 two years ago, then another $1,500 that helped her grow her business. She nets about $700 a month, and with that, she pays her staff of twelve and supports her three children.
© Alison Wright/ZUMA Wire
DAW KHIN NILAR HTUN makes plastic rope in Taungoo Myanmar. She makes about 70 bunches a day, each bunch with ten ropes. Her husband helps by selling rope and clay pots in the market, making about $2 to $5 a day. Nilar works about 7.5 hours a day but has to hire some help as she also cooks, cleans, and takes care of their five children, ages 4 to 24. She received a loan of $500 from BRAC and was able to open a small restaurant. She and her husband make about $55 a day.
© Alison Wright/ZUMA Wire
PA PA PHYO SWE is a Laundress in Yangon, Myanmar. Pa Pa works doing laundry by hand for a local university. Kyaw Kyaw watches as his wife washes. He likes her working and the extra income it brings in. He works as an electrician, and together they make about $200 a month. Pa Pa was able to procure a small loan and would like to buy a washing machine with it.
© Alison Wright/ZUMA Wire
SELEM sews in a garment factory in the economically challenged town of Gafsa. Jobs have become scarce, especially for young girls in already low-income areas, which has created a large gateway for ISIS and terrorism recruitment. Marn-Tex, the factory shown here, is a supplier to Benetton and was started by a Hedia, a local woman determined to eradicate this recruitment crisis. There are about 120 workers here and about 100 of whom are women. Most of the workers make about $400 dinar ($160) a month.
© Alison Wright/ZUMA Wire
DAW NYUNT NYUNT YEE runs a guitar-building shop in Yangon, thanks to a loan she received for supplies. The air is thick and smells of chemicals as the heavy varnish, paint, and glue are heated over a fire in a room with no ventilation. The room crowded with about sixteen workers, who can make about 200 guitars a week. The dealer pays about $15 a piece. Nyunt makes about $400 per week take-home pay, which helps support her 8-year-old child, a student.
© Alison Wright/ZUMA Wire
ISHIMALANGA is a fisher-woman on Lake Tanganyika in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Statistics show that a woman is raped every minute in the Congo. The women and young girls in these areas find themselves most vulnerable when simply performing the necessary but isolating chore of gathering wood and water in the forest for their families. Ishimalanga, shown here with her fishing boat on Lake Tanganyika where she learned to fish, bought a large fishing net with her proceeds. She intends to pass this skill on to her children and she now has a sense of purpose and hope in her life.
© Alison Wright/ZUMA Wire
ZUMA Press Contributing Photographers

ZUMA Press Contributing Photographers and Newspapers partners have photographed the lead up to the Rio Olympics 2016. (Credit Image: © ZUMAPRESS.com):726



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