Thursday, October 11, 2007

Women Who Light the Dark by Paola Gianturco

Women Who Light the Dark by photojournalist Paola Gianturco (powerHouse books, September 2007) begins with a profile of Betty Makoni and the Girl Child Network in Zimbabwe. Betty and 6 tenth grade students co-founded the Girl Child Network. GCN is a girl's rights organization which has 350 chapters of 20,000 primary and high school members across the country.

When Gianturco asked a twelve and half year old girl, Sarah Chinhire, "Of all the GCN work you are doing, what makes you proudest?" she answered, "Teaching my colleagues what to do when they are abused." Girls risk being raped by men with AIDS who have been told by traditional healers that they can be cured if they have intercourse with a virgin.

Each new GCN member receives a journal for poetry, art and reflection. In her poem, "Watch Out," Gillian Bomba writes:
We can do anything, the sky is the limit
You did what you did to us
But this time we will not let you escape
Don't say we didn't warn you.
We will harm you.
Only to make sure that we are free and safe.
Michealene Cristini Risley is making a documentary, Tapestries of Hope, about Betty Makoni and the Girl Child Network. In her post, Gratitude: Musings After My Incarceration in Zimbabwe, she describes Women Who Light the Dark as, "an incredible book about women all over the globe who use their imagination and passion to create change."

Betty is just one of 129 women in 15 countries on 5 continents whose inspiring stories Gianturco captures with her compelling narrative and over 250 luminous color photographs. The book's back matter includes a comprehensive listing of all of the organizations that are profiled, as well as suggestions for further reading about the issues in each region.

Eighteen Global Fund for Women grantees are profiled in the book, and Gianturco is donating 100 percent of the royalties from the book to the Global Fund for Women. The Global Fund for Women advocates for and defends women's human rights by making grants to support women's groups around the world. You can enter a raffle on the Global Fund for Women's site to win a free copy of the book, and you can download free screensavers and wallpapers with images from the book. Check out the GFW Blog too.

This isn't Gianturco's first photographic portrait of strong women. She also captured women's photos and stories in Celebrating Women, and In Her Hands: Craftswomen Changing the World.

You can learn more about international women's issues and how you can take action in the Shine YOUR Light section of the Women Who Light the World web site.

Full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from powerHouse books.

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