Stories: Women

  • She spent half her life as a rebel soldier in Colombia before fleeing to save her baby

    Years before Leidy Johana escaped on a motorcycle from the stifling jungles of Colombia in the dead of night, a forbidden baby in her belly, she was just a rebel without a cause. She grew up on a tomato farm and loved her doting parents and nine siblings but grew restless babysitting, going to school and tending to the crop. ...

  • Mauritania’s Veterans in the Fight Against Sexual Violence

    NOUAKCHOTT, MAURITANIA – Behind a bright turquoise gate, the El Wafa Center opens into a sandy courtyard. A group of women sit in the shade of an aluminum awning, escaping the blazing midday sun, while children play in the sand. Zeinebou Mint Taleb Moussa moves around the grounds, as the women and young children run up to shake her hand....

  • These Colombian women built their own city to escape violence. But peace is still elusive.

    A decade ago, unknown arsonists burned down a community center in northern Colombia where children were schooled and recreational activities were held. The center was empty. The effort, it appeared, was to intimidate the women who had just moved into the neighborhood. Within a year, the center bounced back, rebuilt by resilient women who would not be driven away...

  • Families brave generations of Alzheimer’s in Colombia

    Medellin, Colombia - When Gladys Betancur Piedrahita was a young girl growing up on a coffee farm in the Andes mountain town of Angostura in Colombia, her grandmother fell ill. Gladys watched her mother and aunt care for their mother before she died. Soon after, Gladys' aunt developed the same mysterious illness. She suffered for three years until, at the...

  • Mongolia’s Hunt For Female Street Artists

    Odno Bold extends her hand in greeting, than pulls it away quickly. For a moment she has forgotten that her hands are covered in pink chalk and red paint, a hazard of the trade. Bold, who is 24, is outlining her first street mural on the wall surrounding the United Nations compound in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Dressed in black leggings and boots,...

  • Taking Back the Internet for Pakistani Women

    When you buy pads or tampons in Pakistan, grocery-store owners double-bag the purchases, ostensibly so people on the street can't see what lies within layers of brown-paper bags. This culture of secrecy and shame around women's lives and bodies is an apt parallel of life for women in Pakistan. Conversations about everything from sex lives to physical...

  • For women left behind in Senegal, the exodus to Europe brings rewards, risk and regret

    Walking along the dirt track in the centre of Maka village in Tambacounda province in eastern Senegal, one need not ask which house belongs to the family with a son in Europe. Amid a cluster of square mud-brick houses with thatched roofs, only one is made of cement, towering above the flat scrubland; a spacious veranda wraps around the front....

  • The struggle of women amid civil war, droughts and floods in Mozambique

    ESPUNGABERA, Mozambique - Samere Mashava could not hide his anger and frustration as he narrates how his wife fled from their village in Mozambique’s Espungabera area near the border with Zimbabwe. Mashava’s wife is one of the many women in this part of Mozambique who were forced to flee their homes as a result of the...

  • The Steady Beat of Wars and Heavy Rains

    With just a thin dark grey shawl thrown over her shoulders, Leocadio Simango, was soaked and shivering as she trudged through the streets of Chimoio, the fifth-largest city in Mozambique, on a rainy morning. Leocadio was selling an assortment of small wares- biscuits, sweets, canned drinks and some potato crispy. She carried these items in a dish covered by a...

  • The Women Left Behind

    VAVUNIYA, Sri Lanka — It was midnight in 2008 when several members of Sri Lanka's security forces barged into Rajendran Geetha's house and took her husband, Sekar, from bed. "We only need him for a brief inquiry," she recalls them saying as they blindfolded him and tied his hands with a black rope. In front of his wife, two...