• PROOF:
  • March 6, 2015

Portraits of Strength: Seven Extraordinary Women

Author
Jessie Wender

What do photographs of women, taken by women, look like? In honor of International Women’s Day, March 8, I asked seven female National Geographic photographers to share an image they took that revealed a woman’s experience. In a world where gender equality is still elusive, these photographs tell stories of hope, bravery, hardship, and survival. I want to give my thanks to the incredible photographers for their vision and dedication to sharing stories of women’s experiences worldwide.

***

Picture of a young woman in Haiti
Philomene, Haiti, 1988
Photograph by Maggie Steber

Philomene was a schoolgirl in a small town called Beauchamps in the barren northwest of Haiti, where nothing grows except short mesquite trees. It is one of the largest charcoal-producing areas, and the overwhelming deforestation creates an impoverished landscape that beats people down. I photographed Philomene in 1988. By now she is a grown woman. In this photograph of her I see the great spirit and strength of the Haitian people. In Philomene’s face shines the pride in her country’s singular history as the first black republic in the world born of a successful slave revolt. She loved school and had determination to learn. I loved her dress, the tuft of her hair, and an air of possibility that surrounded her.

Haitian women are the ones who make Haiti run. They are the glue of this tiny nation, whether they are market women selling vegetables, charcoal, and used clothing, or middle-class and wealthier women running their own businesses or working as teachers or politicians. When a market woman walks down the street with a big basket or bucket of water balanced on her head, she walks like a queen. I saw this same thing in Philomene, a queen in the making.

The hope of Haiti’s future is in children. A hardscrabble life either crushes them or makes them stronger, and in this case, it made Philomene stronger. She held her head up high, even if she was poor. At least she could read, write, and add numbers. When I show my work on Haiti, I always end with Philomene because in her face is represented all the hope and dreams of a nation. And of women everywhere.—Maggie Steber

Picture an Egyptian woman in mourning for her son
Safeya Sayed Shedeed, 2012
Photograph by Laura El-Tantawy

Somewhere between fear and sorrow there are often tears. I have seen pools of them. Normally I put my camera down. It feels like I am imposing on a deeply private and intimate moment. Safeya Sayed Shedeed is an Egyptian mother whose son was killed by police on January 28, 2011, a day locals dubbed the “Friday of Rage.” It was three days after the start of the protests that eventually unseated former strongman Hosni Mubarak. Safeya was sitting against the summer’s scorching asphalt, dressed in black from head to toe, as is customary in Egypt when one is in mourning. Sometimes the black is never replaced by another color, a sign the heart is still in deep sorrow even though the soul is trying to recover. “I want to avenge my son,” she told me. “Who will get my son’s rights back?” Safeya was among a group of women who lost loved ones during the violent protests.

Photographing the turmoil in Egypt was a profound experience for me as an Egyptian. I saw grown men weep like children and elderly women scream at the top of their lungs like warriors. I also met women like Safeya whose tears have seeped deep into the ground. I go back to this photograph often. I wonder about her expression, which always struck me as somewhere between peace and sadness. I ask myself how she can muster the strength. I met other mothers whose sons were killed in the revolution. One of them told me she often goes out on the street looking for her son among his friends. Another told me she catches herself having conversations with her son while she’s in the kitchen cooking or sitting in the living room. I wonder if Safeya goes through this too. Does she still wear black? I wonder how the future of Egypt will look back at hundreds, if not thousands, of people like Safeya whose lives changed forever in the course of the struggle to achieve dignity and respect for all.—Laura El-Tantawy

Picture of a young mother with her baby in Texas
Cynthia (22) and Vivian (4 months) at home, October 19, 2013
Photograph by Kitra Cahana

I met Cynthia Santana and her four-month-old baby, Vivian, on a cold morning in the Houston suburb of Spring. I was walking down a line of vehicles waiting in a church parking lot for the volunteer-run food pantry to open. I approached every rolled down window with a request to follow the driver home for a photograph. My mission was to paint an image of what food insecurity in an American suburb looks like today for the National Geographic magazine story exploring hunger in America.

Cynthia and her family were brave enough to agree. At home she told me how difficult her pregnancy was. “When I was pregnant all I had to eat was cereal. Cereal, cereal, cereal. There was nothing else in the house.” Meeting Cynthia and her family, and witnessing up close the extreme disparity between those who have and those who have less in a sprawling Houston suburb, was unsettling. Cynthia brought her fetus to term on empty calories. Why? Is her health and the health of her infant any less important than any other mother’s? To me, the persistence of food insecurity in a wealthy nation like the United States reflects a society that chooses to value certain lives over others. On International Women’s Day let’s resolve to fight for all lives to be valued equally.—Kitra Cahana

Picture of a young factory worker in Mexico
Factory worker, Cuidad Juarez, 1998
Photograph by Nina Berman, NOOR

I was in Ciudad Juarez in August 1998, photographing a story about women and girls who had disappeared and were murdered in what is now commonly called feminicide. One girl who worked in a maquiladora, or factory, within a free-trade zone had been waiting for the bus when she was kidnapped. I would hang around at that bus station to see what I could find, and late one night I saw this girl. She was 16 she earned $50 a week working the late shift at a maquiladora on the outskirts of town. She was waiting alone for the bus to take her there. She didn’t give me her name, but she let me into her space, and I made this picture, very close as she drifted off in her thoughts.

She was in a public place. Certainly a male photographer could have made a photograph. But as a woman I think she felt safe with me, safe enough to stay in her thoughts and allow me to see for a moment her burdens and dreams without turning away.—Nina Berman

Picture of a female doctor in Afghanistan
Dr. Sudia bis Malaha Haqmal, 39, Khost, Afghanistan, 2013
Photograph by Andrea Bruce, NOOR

In the past decade I have often photographed war and its aftermath. But I have never before seen the blood and death found in Afghanistan’s maternity hospitals. I was in awe of the few Afghan women fighting to save the lives of their country’s mothers and babies. The first generation of trained and educated Afghan midwives and doctors are the country’s unseen warriors, battling one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. After years of schooling or medical training, these women are bringing simple sanitation, basic medical understandings, and emergency care to maternal hospitals that are in desperate need. Broken roads, checkpoints and violence, unregulated drugs, and a culture that robs them of power has created a storm of problems in Afghanistan, where women and children are dying in record numbers during birth. Because society rarely allows male doctors to work on female patients, women like Dr. Hagmal have become Afghanistan’s most critical lifesavers.—Andrea Bruce

Picture of a prison laundress at the Correctional Institute for Women, PeWee Valley, Kentucky
Phyllis White, Correctional Institute for Women, PeWee Valley, Kentucky, 1978
Photograph by Melissa Farlow

I became a photographer at a time when women were encouraged to follow their dreams into less traditional professions. I cared deeply about social justice and women’s rights. While on an assignment I met Phyllis White, who had been raped at five, gang raped at 13, and imprisoned for shooting her boyfriend in self-defense. She had spent nine years in confinement—which was about a third of her life. About her inmate job she said, “I think I made my worst mistake by saying I wanted to go to the laundry. The laundry was so hot. It would take me 15 minutes to iron one state dress—15 cents a day.”

Over the next four years, as I photographed, we became friends. My presence in a court hearing prevented her from a third felony conviction that would have put her away for life. I watched her rise above her violent past to turn her life around. Women who are victims of violence and domestic abuse have a hard road to travel. My story didn’t change her life, but I believe I gave her hope. I know I am wiser having known her.—Melissa Farlow

Picture of a young Somali immigrant on the coast of Maine
Naima, Portland, Maine, June 1, 2004
Photograph by Amy Toensing

Ten years ago, when I was living in Portland, Maine, a large population of Somali refugees settled in the area and the cultural landscape was changing fast. Parts of the community embraced the newcomers and other parts struggled with the change. I wanted to know more about my new neighbors, and as a woman, I was most interested in the teenage girls. I knew from experience female adolescence is a challenging and exciting time (to put it mildly), but I couldn’t imagine navigating those years as a Muslim girl coming of age in the Western world.

I ended up spending a lot of time with Naima, who had fled Somalia with her family, lived for years in a refugee camp in Africa, and was eventually resettled in the United States in 2001. When I met her she was 17 years old, juggling school and friends while also taking care of her parents, who struggled more than she did with the language and new surroundings. They relied on her for many adult tasks and expected her to uphold and represent their culture.

I learned a lot from Naima—she was brave and funny and had a giant heart. In this picture we were hanging out by the harbor when the wind grabbed her head scarf. She held tight and struggled to gather it back together to reshape it into something that would hold.—Amy Toensing

*****
Inspired by the response to this post, the National Geographic Your Shot community launched the #PortraitsofStrength hastag challenge, where members could share their own images of strong women. See some of the most compelling portraits and read the stories behind them on Proof.

You might also like Women of Vision: The Pioneers, looking at the first female National Geographic photographers.

There are 167 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Atchana
    April 9, 2015

    Outstanding photos! I was drawn more to 2 photos specifically. The Egyptian lady and young girl. Capturing emotions and telling a story is what I think of photography. Coming from a land of gender bias,social conditioning, restrictions etc I could relate to each of the photo instantly and reminded of all those women I have known and seen going thru struggles every min of the day . Very well done!

  2. rita
    March 20, 2015

    They are me

  3. Kathleen
    March 18, 2015

    Beautiful theme. Amazing stories. I’d like to share the photo and story of my son’s nanny, Sumi. She did an amazing job and has made sacrifices for her family in Indonesia. Kindly please advise how can I share her photo and story. Thank you.

    • Becky HarlanBecky Harlan
      March 18, 2015

      Hi Kathleen, you can share the photo and story by uploading the image to our Your Shot community and adding the hashtag #portraitsofstrength. You can join the community and submit your image by visiting: http://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/ and clicking “Join” in the upper right hand corner.

  4. Winifred Akinyemi
    March 17, 2015

    I love these pictures which shows that the most amazing things are about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

  5. Julio Damian
    March 17, 2015

    Gracias por 7 maravillosas historias.

  6. LaVerne Autagne
    March 17, 2015

    Beautiful pictures! You captured a life!
    Thank you.

  7. Elisabet
    March 17, 2015

    Thank you for bringing hope, inspiration and strength to us all!

  8. Amel Gashgari
    March 17, 2015

    The facial expressions of those brave strong women have been captured by those awesome photographers showing emotions and spirit . The stories are very touching. Salute to Dr. Hagmal, the Afghan doctor who became the most critical lifesavers .

  9. sania rahman
    March 17, 2015

    incredible work, this is the time when all women should dedicate their expertise to bring women’s equal voice to create a balanced society, similar to this work we should continue to reflect the strength of womenhood

  10. Gail
    March 17, 2015

    Beautiful. What was said, what I saw, what was felt, what I know, the unknown……a struggle forever.

  11. Carla
    March 16, 2015

    I felt so humble reading about the strength of these women. The accomplishments and strength of these women has to come from a
    Greater Being that they know so well.

  12. Carmen Bryant
    March 16, 2015

    I am a world citizen with a heart that can see beyond my own country. These seven photos represent women with a national identity but also simply as women in a struggling world. They don’t need to be from my own nation or social status for me to be able to identify with them.

  13. Margot Hall
    March 16, 2015

    Thank you for sharing!!!
    M-

  14. TIA VALENKO
    March 16, 2015

    Thank you very much for those Beautiful stories I appreciate them very much!

  15. TIA VALENKO
    March 16, 2015

    Thank you for those Beautiful stories I appreciate it very much.

  16. John J. Smith
    March 15, 2015

    Emotions shown throught photography. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Venkatesh Iyer
    March 15, 2015

    You should have more such posts. God knows how many women there are, all around the world, crying out to have their voices heard.

  18. Susannah
    March 15, 2015

    these stories are filled with compassion and determination. these women have inspired me to become a stronger women but also to understand that women around the world are living through harsher conditions than mine. this determination for what is right in these extremely dictated communities in third world countries allows me to understand that women can make a difference no matter what men or society says towards our opinion. also these photographs are very well done and give a visual understanding of the mourning and pain that these women are going through.

  19. tikku
    March 15, 2015

    The facial expression captured tell a tale and also the posture. The light shades makes the photos almost akin to painting. I thought India is the only nation where women are abused but I was wrong.

  20. Cate Wnek
    March 15, 2015

    Superb storytelling. I am in awe of both the photographers and their subjects. Stronger together. Amazing women. I will return to this post again and again.

  21. Finola Jennings Clark
    March 15, 2015

    Mixed emotions looking and reading – a lot of heart here…a long journey still ahead of all of us – even those who have ‘succeeded. I live in Saint Lucia, one of the 3 top countries for ‘women in management’…hmmm, yes, no statistic, no photo can say it all, but yet they both speak eloquently of the beginning of a story

  22. Edoardo
    March 15, 2015

    The hard Life , The beautiful Life , together. thanks to turn my thoughts and my heart

  23. Joan Michel
    March 15, 2015

    Beautiful and inspiring…. yet why are there no Jewish women included here? l suggest you contact photographer Joan Roth and feature some of her exquisite work on Jewish women.

  24. Joan Michel
    March 15, 2015

    Beautiful, yet why are there no Jewish women here?

  25. Suzanne Chaulk
    March 15, 2015

    The photographs are a wonderful as are the stories they tell of their subjects. Thank you for sharing them.

  26. Mahlon Marr
    March 15, 2015

    “In a world where gender equality is still elusive”……..a mighty understatement that.

  27. Michael Turner
    March 15, 2015

    As I paused to absorb the women across the world as photographed in their settings, I am awestruck by the individual struggles and representation of courage and strength vividly demonstrated in each woman and captured by the photograhers. The reality of the human spirit is and always will be extremely moving!

  28. Laura Hegfield
    March 15, 2015

    My heart feels broken and full… these beautiful photos of each woman/girl and her story, the insights of the photographers inspire hope in a world that is too often unjust, hope in the kindness that teaches us to see each other face to face, mirroring one another… human to human, dignified and precious.

  29. Sharon
    March 15, 2015

    Thank you for the beautifu,l inspiring collection. I did notice that the strong brown women depicted only represented a perspective coming from despair. There need to be images of the same quality of women overcoming struggles illuminating a different angle. Women artists, world leaders, Ph.D. scientists, etc. having overcome the real, and sometime hidden struggles that also challenge their ability to thrive.

  30. Devan
    March 12, 2015

    Very moving and touching stories n experiences of the women. Thank you.

  31. Coburn Dukehart
    March 11, 2015

    Hi Proof community – We got such a great response to this post that we set up a photo hashtag challenge on our sister site—Your Shot—for people to share their own images and stories of extraordinary women.

    Check it out and contribute here!
    http://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/tags/portraitsofstrength/

  32. Earl Okezie
    March 11, 2015

    This is very touching. Certainly, women possess an inner strength, no man can explain, but buried in them

  33. Farzana Naz
    March 11, 2015

    Strong women’s very spirited souls my best regards

  34. Michelle
    March 10, 2015

    Women can be very surprisingly stronger than what men can imagine, but sadly, women are treated equally as men, women usually scarifies more for the family than their husbands. Luckily, more and more women can go out to get opportunities to chase their dreams,but their contribution should be acknowledged more and appreciated more.

  35. michael
    March 10, 2015

    The diversity of these photographs was captivating. Afghanistan, Egypt, Mexico, Haiti.

  36. bhima prasad maiti
    March 10, 2015

    Words are too limited to these great shots

  37. Omar S.
    March 9, 2015

    I often wonder where this world would be had it not been for women contributing and sacrificing… Thank you to all who contributed to this story. But also thank you to all the women who can so willingly and endlessly contribute, sacrifice, struggle and give.

  38. alicia arce
    March 9, 2015

    POR NATURALEZA LA MUJER FUE PROVISTA DE UNA GRAN FORTALEZA ESPIRITUAL, CON GRAN CAPACIDAD DE SOPORTAR LOS AVATARES Y DESIGUALDADES DE LA VIDA CON HIDALGUIA. MUCHO MAS POTENCIADO EN EL MOMENTO MISMO DE TENER UN HIJO… ES UN PRIVILEGIO SER MUJER Y MADRE,SIEMPRE PIENSO LO DISTINTO QUE SERIA EL MUNDO SI LAS GRANDES LIDERES POLITICAS FUERAN MUJERES, DUDO QUE EL HOMBRE LO PERMITA….MUCHAS FELICIDADES A TODAS, PORQUE EN NUESTRO PEQUEÑO MUNDO QUE ES EL HOGAR PODEMOS EJERCER DICHAS FACULTADES Y NO ES POCO….

  39. Lupita Blasquez
    March 9, 2015

    Me pareció impresionante y enriquecedor leer esto.

  40. Francine Marie Tolf
    March 9, 2015

    Beautiful, moving, inspiring. Thank you.

  41. alicia
    March 9, 2015

    thanks for sharing!!

  42. Wilbur Manners
    March 9, 2015

    What hope! Thankyou!

  43. Jackson Job
    March 9, 2015

    These aren’t just images of women and their lives, I believe this has to be seen, read and understood by every individual to understand what they have earned and what they have to give the world instead of living the life for the sake of living. Thanks again to all those photographers who have contributed in bringing these pictures to us.

  44. Ditostech
    March 9, 2015

    Very nice and Informative post about Photographers.

  45. Sandrawilloc@yahoo.com O’connor
    March 9, 2015

    Beautiful. Inspirational as a mum you feel your encouraging and making a difference but really life as it know it is easy compared to these fine upstanding courageous ladies. Thank you for shared.

  46. Therisa
    March 9, 2015

    As I began to go through the photos it dawn on me as to how familiar some of the photos were. I have been in situations in my own life. My face I’m sure was similar & the photographers depiction matched moments in my life – and I have lived in the USA all my life. Others, regardless of country help by minipulating what is seen in these photos. Thank you NG and the selected photographers for the opportunity to see what is all around us. This may very well give me strength to put myself in a better place.

  47. Lisa S
    March 9, 2015

    I see pure grace, beauty and courage. God bless you all.

  48. Gracia Mendoza
    March 9, 2015

    Women are really strong, we cry but we overcome easily. Inspiring people.

  49. Anca-Daniela Mirica
    March 8, 2015

    i wish..
    Let me build it
    Inside of us all
    Inside for us all
    An island of love..
    So love be,
    In all!

  50. Anca
    March 8, 2015

    i wish
    To have an island of my own
    An island of peace,
    An island of love,
    An island for all.
    Let me build it
    Inside.

  51. Karin Testolin
    March 8, 2015

    The images and stories of these amazing women are wonderful and empowering. Thank you.

  52. Marsha McDonald
    March 8, 2015

    It’s amazing how each individual story builds upon the next, creating an expansive and truly moving humanistic timeline, one that these photos makes me feel part of. Thanks for connecting me to such diverse and meaningful lives.

  53. Natalie Cordeau
    March 8, 2015

    Nous sommes femmes, fiables, fières, fortes, fonceuses et fascinantes.

  54. Robyn Wigman
    March 8, 2015

    Such a beautiful depiction of feminine strength, your work is amazing, as are the brave souls who share their stories and those who continue to struggle. It amazes me that in such modern times women continue to be persecuted and disadvantaged to such a degree. Surely as pieces of humanity, we’re better than that!

  55. Susie Conroy
    March 8, 2015

    i wish there was more of this around. Beautiful pictures and stories about the women and what they live. I wonder where their lives took them?

  56. Jane
    March 8, 2015

    Beautiful &Inspiring

  57. ploie
    March 8, 2015

    RECOGNITION is empowering.

  58. Albert
    March 8, 2015

    Why are not the men and boys commenting? Whats going on here? Where are the voices of the husbands and sons of my country ?
    Why are they not celebrating these wonderful mothers, daughters and sisters? What a sad commentary on men in general !

  59. LesliZerr
    March 8, 2015

    As a resident of southern New Mexico I am very aware of the of
    young women in Juarez…photographs are wonderful but that one was especially poignant to me thank you for these

  60. Johanna
    March 8, 2015

    The photographs, the stories behind it just powerful. My respect to all the women around the world.

  61. sheritra
    March 8, 2015

    Powerful images. They represent powerful women…A beautiful representation of sadness,loss, despair,hope, pride and hardship. These are the kind of images that inspire and leave a mark in people..Just beautiful.

  62. Tammy
    March 8, 2015

    I am so very humbled. I felt emotions in all the pictures. The pictures speak for themselves. Thank you so much for sharing these awesome and beautiful pictures with us. God Bless

  63. Karen R.
    March 8, 2015

    A salute to all the woman for being strong powerful heroes, warriors for being courageous throughout adversities. We need to be loved and respected

  64. Debra East
    March 8, 2015

    These women are extraordinary. I am left noting that the caputured moment and thoughtful notation could be about Everywoman as we each have extraordinary in place.

  65. Jac O’Casey
    March 8, 2015

    Brilliant and beautiful are the warriors who redesign and rebuild their lives! I am sharing these photographs and stories with my 4th grade class in the Bronx in a lesson about emotional resilience and courage, and growth. xo

  66. Diana Harding
    March 8, 2015

    The pictures…. The stories…… Thank you!

  67. jyotsna
    March 8, 2015

    Powerful,inspiring, courageous and strength of the world,only because these are women,

  68. Hessa Almasnoori
    March 8, 2015

    Great detailed photos, I would love to share my photos of woman back in Cambodia, email me if it’s possible.

  69. Hessa Almasnoori
    March 8, 2015

    Can I add a portrait of woman I had capture back in Cambodia ???

  70. joyce gallivan
    March 8, 2015

    beautiful testament to the strength of women, thank you.

  71. Melanie
    March 8, 2015

    this is the type of things I look at and try to hold on. women struggle all over the world and these photographs capture it beautifully. all we can do is pass our strength and experiences on to our beautiful girls and teach them how to hold their head up and stay strong.

  72. Lydia Espinosa
    March 8, 2015

    Beautiful photos. Thank You Helen Bar-Lev for the wonderful poem, I Am aTree. Thank You for sharing.

  73. Nathalie Tremblay
    March 8, 2015

    Thank you for this strong, beautiful and profound work.

  74. myriam
    March 8, 2015

    Beautiful pictures. Saludos

  75. R Shetty
    March 8, 2015

    We shall overcome! More power to all the women of the world!

  76. Eliseo Martinez
    March 8, 2015

    Comparti este impactante trabajo de Jessie Wender, me explico; Me sentí tan Golpeado por los comentarios al pie de cada foto, hechos por las Autoras que las tomaron, que en si les dan los verdaderos significado a cada una de las mismas; convirtiendo este magnífico trabajo en la información del drama que viven nuestras mujeres en el mundo, no siendo una historia más conmovedora que la otra, todas son de gran impacto, algo que debieran ver, analizar y tratar de remediar las autoridades a nivel mundial y no digo saber, pues estos son dramas del día a día en cada país donde, las mujeres se siguen vejando y lo triste, que lo saben los hipócritas gobernantes de cada región mencionada en este Articulo; Y lo peor es, que se tengan conciencia, y no hagan nada para remediarlo, que todavía el pleno siglo 21, existan y se vivan estas historias.

  77. Nisrin
    March 8, 2015

    Amazing strength and photographs.

  78. Deanna kemp
    March 8, 2015

    Amazing stories and pictures. I feel privledged to be able to read about them.

  79. rouge
    March 8, 2015

    <3

  80. Cindy Cimetta
    March 8, 2015

    To my fellow sisters, Happy International Women’s Day! “We are Women Hear US Roar!”

  81. Elizabeth McLean
    March 8, 2015

    This is beautiful and powerful! Thank you for sharing it. Very meaningful.

  82. martha lilia cubillos hernandez
    March 8, 2015

    Desgarrador e inquietante ver como en cualquier parte del mundo la mujer es pisoteada, maltratada abandonada, etc no hay lugar donde la tierra no se halla humedecido con las lagrimas y el dolor de una mujer por esas lagrimas es que aun brotan flores en el mundo, por esas lagrimas aun hay lugar para que germine el amor por que donde hay dolor las semillas del amor estan listas para brotar,la mujer es vida es esperanza la mujer convierte los golpes en caricias, el desprecio en ternura el abandono en solidaridad LA MUJER ES LA AYUDA IDONEA QUE DIOS CREO siempre dispuesta a dar para que otros vivan en un mundo mejor….

  83. Linda Johnson
    March 8, 2015

    Awesome….

  84. paulina
    March 8, 2015

    Beautiful images that have captivated and stirred my emotions this morning. Thank you for this post.

  85. Susan Cortilet Jones
    March 8, 2015

    United by such strength….Thank you for this incredible story through photos….

  86. Dimitra Chioti
    March 8, 2015

    I was absolutely captivated by your pictures; I think the feelings of these women are showing so clearly through them, that they become palpable,to the point I could feel them sitting next to me, indulging in their desperate or hopeful reveries. A really inspiring work, which makes us fall in love with NatGeo all over again!

  87. Shirley Moulder
    March 8, 2015

    Powerful, awesome and beautiful. Thank you to the women who shared their vulnerability with you – and thank you to the photographers for honouring the women and holding their souls in the palms of your hands as you took their pictures.

  88. Julie Winters
    March 8, 2015

    Humbled and deeply moved by these beautiful women

  89. Santi Pokar
    March 8, 2015

    women are survivors. When we fall we pick ourselves up time and time again. We are fighters and we inspire. Beautiful stories. I wonder where these women are now and how they’re doing.

  90. Wan Qiangxin
    March 8, 2015

    Beautiful photographs and touching stories behind them…Thank you!

  91. Kathy
    March 8, 2015

    When a woman or girl is ignored, dismissed or abused, it is an insult to her nature, her mind and her soul! Who on earth would ever be here, if not lovingly borne and cared for by a woman? I lift all females up today and always! Thank you, NG!

  92. Dolores Sheen
    March 8, 2015

    Warrior
    Of
    Man
    And
    Nature…

    Dolores Sheen
    3/8/15

  93. Sarah Bonelle-Lynch
    March 8, 2015

    ‘she needed a hero, so that’s what she became’.
    These stories are beautiful, and a small insight into the intrinsic strength of women everywhere. Warriors of peace, equality and humanity.

  94. Sharon Fernandes
    March 8, 2015

    …against all odds…A salute to women the world over…to the Nat Geo photographers, a big thank you!

  95. Sharon Fernandes
    March 8, 2015

    …against all odds…A salute to women the world over…to the Nat get photographers, a big thank you!

  96. Sharon Hope Delabar
    March 8, 2015

    Very beautiful depictions of strength. All women are beautiful, for each bear a strength and burden unique according to the needs of those around them. Thanks for sharing. God bless.

  97. María Inés
    March 8, 2015

    Excelentes fotografías, más que un rostro… una alma, un sentir. La esperanza, el poder confiar su historia y desahogo sin sentir miedo y opresión. Por el hecho de estar con otra mujer.

  98. Marlene Ammar
    March 8, 2015

    So much work to do yet…but together, women helping women, we can do it!

  99. Helen Bar-Lev
    March 8, 2015

    I am a tree

    Did you think I was a woman?
    Oh no, I am a tree
    rooted and immovable
    impossible to conceive
    the scenes
    that I have seen

    Now gnarled and warped
    weathered and aged
    wrinkled and withered
    bent to the ends of recognition
    too rigid to give in
    to the whim of man
    I stand true to the tune
    of the wind echoing
    my own inner rhythm
    persistent, consistent, constant

    Perhaps every tree
    was once a woman –
    only a woman could stand so strong
    fall so proud
    when the axe of age claims her
    and earth sets a bed for her

    © 10.2006 Helen Bar-Lev

  100. Nisreen
    March 8, 2015

    If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.

  101. Catherine Fisher
    March 8, 2015

    powerful, moving, a reminder to us all through the stories of these seven how far we have to go.

  102. wilma post
    March 8, 2015

    You touched mij heart. I feel connected with all these women.

  103. Bea Szoka
    March 8, 2015

    We are daughters of God. We are of royal birth. We are infused with a heritage and a potential that is beyond our understanding. And we should remember that more often. Thank you.

  104. Mona
    March 8, 2015

    Thank you for remanding us how strong we are and how strong we can be in front of adversities…

  105. Linda sobhee
    March 7, 2015

    the world is full of women who will always be behind the curtain, in the dark, trying to survive an abusive husband, or a pervert Boss, or an Incest unwanted relation, the list is too long. Hommage a vous mes soeurs.

  106. Riddhi Kulkarni
    March 7, 2015

    we, women make life what it is! We are strength and we are the weakness. To all my dear ladies, be a WOMAN! Love yourself, value yourself so no one can take you down!! Cheers to womanhood

  107. Rozalila Abdul Rahman
    March 7, 2015

    Great women with great stories! A special tribute to all women who are the backbone of any societies in the world! May Allah / God bless all us women and place us in His heaven one day!

  108. Lynne Roethel
    March 7, 2015

    Awesome and inspiring

  109. Lou
    March 7, 2015

    The truth more respect!

  110. ann ignacio
    March 7, 2015

    Strong Women, let’s count ourselves as one of them.

  111. Smritilekha C
    March 7, 2015

    There are so many more names that could be added. Hopefully, someday, there’ll be no need of these brave-hearts. As, everyone will be equal in the eyes of society. Till then, fight on, Comrades.

  112. Tsewang Rinchen
    March 7, 2015

    My respects to all women, mothers, sisters, daughters, wives. Women are portrayal of strengths and present portray of them is great one. (I m not a woman, but my life has been, is being and will be shaped by women around me. I ll always be grateful to them

  113. Minnie Wabanimkee
    March 7, 2015

    I appreciate the beauty and sorrow of these images and text. I think of all the Native mothers and grandmothers that came before me. I know their struggles and by photographing the women I know I want to pay tribute to them. Saved for all to see again some day. It is my greatest pleasure.

  114. Tsewang Rinchen
    March 7, 2015

    My respects to all women, mothers, sisters, daughters, wives. Women are portrayal of strengths and present collection is great one.

  115. neha
    March 7, 2015

    the fight to equality and freedom will be the toughest fight in history. a fight in which parts of the story, the voice of victims might never be heard. great post.

  116. Cy
    March 7, 2015

    Beautiful photos and nice text. I personally believe that a photo really does tell a story, and being able to share in someone’s life, someone’s struggle, that is a privilage. There are 7 billion of us, and each of us has a story. Ultimately, it is people who make a place worth travelling to, and their tales and lives, that restore our faith in humanity.

    I congratulate the photographers for the amazing photos.

  117. Arianna Montilla
    March 7, 2015

    Thank you for being the women you are and enlighten us with these realities.Greetings from Venezuela

  118. lakshmi bhavani
    March 7, 2015

    if only men can man up and behave like gentlemen-we women will definetly be able to live atleast like a human being if not like a woman

  119. Tina Fitzgerald Khoo
    March 7, 2015

    We are Women
    Love is us
    Courage is us
    Serendipity is us
    Destruction is also us
    For we are Women
    We are nuturement
    especially for men…
    We are Women

  120. Carolina Martinez
    March 7, 2015

    I celebrate women for their tenacity and never ending love to those who surround them. It’s heartbreaking to read these stories about the tribulations some women have to go through. Thanks Natgeo for reminding us that there’s a lot to do to secure the life of women around the world so each of them can live with dignity.

  121. miriam Courtney
    March 7, 2015

    women Are STILL in the struggle for
    Our Digmity and Rights…. All Over This Planet … It is Man’s inhumanity against women… The Physical and the emotional abuse is rampant in this modern age…. The disrespect is evident … We who are mothers must
    Teach our sons to respect , and honor the women they are in contact with…
    And we women must Demand Respect, and also respect our selfs …
    Learn to be independent as to not be so helpless in this mans world.

  122. Barbara
    March 7, 2015

    Beautiful & Inspiring Women.

  123. Jean
    March 7, 2015

    i have looked at your pictures multiple times, you captured their spirit, determination and will to move forward. Thank you

  124. adisah
    March 7, 2015

    That was beautiful.

  125. Hrvojka Mordus
    March 7, 2015

    Beautiful stories of these women. Brought tears to my eyes. Powerful pictures

  126. tonimarie
    March 7, 2015

    Thank you for the beautifully poignant photographs.

  127. AbdulQudus
    March 7, 2015

    …pse include women from my country…Nigeria…our women are suffering,the fabric of the areas affected by the insurgency is been torn and scattered…we need all the attention we can get

  128. faiza
    March 7, 2015

    Beautiful stories, wish I could explore one..

  129. Kathleen Pacey
    March 7, 2015

    This is why I love, and have always loved NG – u bring us stories and perspectives we wouldn’t otherwise know, see or consider. Thank u for enriching my life and constantly broadening my horizons.

  130. Judy Evans
    March 7, 2015

    A beautiful tribute to remind us that within each woman in the world there is an amazing spirit! It is humbling to share that with each of the women in this piece. Thank you!

  131. Jovana Mirovic
    March 7, 2015

    Volja i snaga je u nama, zenama.
    Put je tezak, jedan, ciljevi nas vode, cine jacim, lepsim, posebnim.
    Zivele!

  132. Vajira
    March 7, 2015

    Incredible stories.So much to learnand admire. Thanks fro sharing…

  133. Manisha Sekaran
    March 7, 2015

    Every woman most definitely has to be recognised for all of her efforts,no matter how big or small it is because she is making a contribution to the world in her own way.

  134. Lagrimas S. Trinidad
    March 7, 2015

    The photographer capture emotions, very touching. Thank you very much for making women as your subject. Thank you and more power.

  135. Mary Ann Quevedo Hee
    March 7, 2015

    These photos are but a few that depicts the many struggles that women from all around the world go through. They are beautifully taken and the narratives perfectly worded. I salute every woman today – the sacrifices we all have made to make this world a better place to live in.

  136. Marimootoo Roobun
    March 6, 2015

    We will never be free as long as our women continue to suffer violences.

  137. Dr Jigna parmar
    March 6, 2015

    The photographs capture the spirit of women . Truly inspiring and encouraging ! Hope survives !
    Soul touching !

  138. evita
    March 6, 2015

    What a story…just cant imagine the world without that feelings….empty

  139. Emma Bugarin Ong
    March 6, 2015

    I was very pleased to read each story how these women survive with their challenges to live to the fullest.Each one has principle in life to fifth for .These are the woman with character and are admirable. The story of each woman serves as a motivation how we can overcome oppression among us.It is existing we really have to be critical in our thingking and should react on issues pertaining to issues against us.I gave recognition and appreciation to the writers and photographers .congratulations and continue your passion in your chosen field of priffession.

  140. Sunil Bhandary
    March 6, 2015

    It is indeed women are strong. I have seen my mother struggle in her life every day. It is truly a great article.

  141. huwida jamal
    March 6, 2015

    No women……No cry……..
    So touching……..

  142. Dr Shyamala
    March 6, 2015

    Reminded me that I am made up of the tougher stuff. Every girl n every woman is indeed extraordinary. Both in their struggles and in their accomplishments. Sadly, almost always, they go unrecognised and unsung. Nevertheless, the fact is here to remain for posterity.

  143. Christiana
    March 6, 2015

    Thank you for this!

  144. jacinta
    March 6, 2015

    Poignant stories..it saddens me that so many girls and women have to experience such hards struggles in this life…

  145. Susan Quinlan
    March 6, 2015

    Heart stopping, life affirming, tragic stories full of love, growth, humanity & hope.

  146. Vidya
    March 6, 2015

    These stories are indeed touching…

  147. Isabel Arroyo
    March 6, 2015

    Grandes talentos que muestran el rostro humano de la mujer.

  148. Holly Glen Gearhart
    March 6, 2015

    Very beautiful and striking pics..but I have to wonder where are the STRONG women with DISABILITIES?

  149. Carrie Hamilton
    March 6, 2015

    Women,are strong by birth, I’m very impressed by these women an their accomplishment’s.

  150. Kaffie
    March 6, 2015

    So much pain sorrow tears that some dont see.Very wonderful photos keep them sharing. From one woman to all the women of the world we will survive. Thank you and God Bless

  151. Neysa Zurkammer
    March 6, 2015

    This is a wonderful post. As a senior woman and an amateur photographer, I found it very inspiring. It also makes me know how lucky I have been in my life.

  152. Sarah De Silva
    March 6, 2015

    Amazing photographs and inspiring stories behind them..

  153. Lucy Seager
    March 6, 2015

    We are woman.
    We will overcome.

  154. janet langridge
    March 6, 2015

    Humbling & beautiful. The human spirit is amazingly strong. A timely montage for International Women’s Day

  155. Audrey Bird
    March 6, 2015

    Beautiful pictures.

  156. Martha Bahamón
    March 6, 2015

    Esta es la realidad que viven muchas mujeres en todo el mundo. Gracias por compartir estas historias y sus fotografías !!!

  157. Joan Ward
    March 6, 2015

    Brought me to tears many women around the world do it tough ,beautiful strong women amen !

  158. hasan
    March 6, 2015

    You forgot Kobani Syrian girl fighters against ISIS

  159. Patrick
    March 6, 2015

    Quite touching wish I cud help.

  160. Sukanya
    March 6, 2015

    Very touching!

  161. Onni Milne
    March 6, 2015

    It is clear that women are second class citizens in all countries and societies. It is good to see strength and courage in the faces and bodies you represent. I celebrate their strength and courage with you.

  162. Eugenia
    March 6, 2015

    I loved this post! Amazing, seriously.

  163. Linda Uysal
    March 6, 2015

    Beautiful photos and stories very touching! Thank you.

  164. Terry Rheuark
    March 6, 2015

    These are beautiful photographs and the stories behind them are touching. Thank you so much for sharing 🙂

  165. steve
    March 6, 2015

    Inspiring

  166. Coburn Dukehart
    March 6, 2015

    Beautiful post Jessie! And to all the photographers who contributed, thank you for sharing your stories with us.

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