Nadia Shira Cohen has won the $10,000 Women Photograph + Getty Images grant for her work on the abortion ban in El Salvador – and the five grants of $5000 awarded by Women Photograph with Nikon have gone to Tasneem Alsultan, Anna Boyiazis, Jess T. Dugan, Ana Maria Arevalo Gosen, and Etinosa Yvonne Osayimwen.
Nadia Shira Cohen’s series Yo No Di a Luz documents the effect that the complete ban on abortion in El Salvador has had on women – particularly on those forced to give birth to children conceived as a result of rape. “Doctors and nurses are trained to spy on women’s uteruses in public hospitals, reporting any suspicious alteration to the authorities and provoking criminal charges which can lead to between six months to seven years in prison,” writes Shira Cohen. “It is the poorer class of women who suffer the most as doctors in private hospitals are not required to report.
“Roughly 25 women are serving 30 to 40 year sentences on homicide charges for allegedly killing their newborn children. Although the women’s stories, most of which resemble premature births or late term miscarriages are often dismissed in trials, laced with moral accusations, based little on the constitution and scientific facts.”
Tasneem Alsultan’s work looks at women from Saudi Arabia’s Shiaa minority, in particular the activists and leaders who have risen to prominence in one of the world’s most conservative countries. Anna Boyiazis, meanwhile, has won another award for her highly successful project Finding Freedom in the Water, which documents young women in Zanzibar learning to swim for the first time, and which has also received a World Press Photo prize, and the Contemporary African Photography Prize.
Ana Maria Arevalo Gosen’s project looks at women held in detention in Venezuela – waiting for trial, but facing years of separation from their families and children in Venezuela’s ongoing economic crisis. Etinosa Yvonne Osayimwen’s project features double exposures which convey the mental struggle faced by those who have suffered violence and trauma in Nigeria, while Jess T Dugan’s project Every Breath We Drew is a series of portraits – including self-portraits – engaging with gender, sexuality, and identity.
The Women Photograph initiative includes a database of 700 women documentary photographers based in 91 countries which is available to those who commission photography; its mission is “to shift the gender makeup of the photojournalism community and ensure that our industry’s chief storytellers are as diverse as the communities they hope to represent”.