Since 2010 Wim and Pauline Opmeer have been travelling the world producing impact photos and video reports about sustainable development. In some cases they have also provided them for FMO. The strongest memories they have taken away from their travels are of the people they meet along the way: especially women and men that fight for equal opportunities and rights.
"Visual stories of women and men show the value, challenges, and importance of gender equality", says Pauline. “Personal stories have a power that is lacking in abstract numbers and research. We consider the people we interview to be the experts.” After having interviewed over eighty women and men from Asia to Latin America, they were even more aware of the complexity involved. Despite this complexity, there were also many stories of improvement. Some of these stories took them by surprise, which proves that we need to avoid drawing conclusions that are rooted in our own convictions. Below are five women, who, each in their own way, are contributing to gender equality.
“It was my dream to study agriculture, but that was a men’s career. I fought two years to achieve that, but I didn’t succeed. That was difficult for me. But what I could not do then, I am doing now.”
“The only way to promote women’s rights is by involving the people that could be potential perpetuators. Men should be on the board with us. Boys out of school should have something to do and we empowered them. They are working and we’ve taught them better farming methods.”
“People objected, saying how can you be the farmer, the land is not in your name. We were forced to form a company, to avoid the legal problems of the land not being in our name. Only a farmer can sell to the market.”
“I taught rural women to weave high quality silks. My company exports to France. If you don’t give women a chance, they stay quiet. But if you do, they understand their potential. They understand they have rights and can make decisions.”
“When we are educating kids, we are educating their parents, their families, their communities. So when we talk about education bringing change, I think that’s how it happens, it happens through the children, it happens through the students.”