Against All Odds: Malala Fund opens applications for their final commission opportunity in collaboration with 1854

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© Deepti Asthana .

For the third and final installment of the Malala Fund x 1854 Against All Odds commission series, one more woman photographer will be commissioned to create new work celebrating the strength and determination of remarkable girls

Education is a human right. And yet current rates of progress indicate that another hundred years will pass before every girl can access it. Launched in 2013 by the activist Malala Yousafzai – who became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize recipient in history at age 17 – Malala Fund is a non-profit organisation with a razor-sharp focus on accelerating progress for girls’ education.  They invest in  educator and activist-led programmes around the world, while challenging systems, policies and practices, so that girls everywhere can secure at least 12 years of free, safe, quality education. 

Above all, Malala Yousafzai is a fierce believer in a world where every girl can learn and lead — and where every girl’s voice matters.

© Yasmin Velloso .

With two of the commission opportunities now closed, the search for the third photographer is underway: the final chance for women and non-binary photographers to help further Malala’s mission through their creative practice. As with the past two calls-to-entry, the winning photographer will be selected by none other than Malala Yousafzai herself, and will be paid a £2,000 fee to create the project later this year.

Instead of talking down to girls, or being prescriptive about their needs, an integral part of the Malala Fund ethos is giving girls a platform to tell their own stories, and the resources to shape their own futures. “The girls we serve have high goals for themselves,” reads the Malala Fund website — which is why they created Assembly, a digital publication and newsletter for girls to speak out about the issues holding them back. This same ethos lies at the heart of the Against All Odds commission series: whether their acts of resistance are big or small, individual or collective, the project is not about speaking for girls, but amplifying their voices; including inviting each subject to contribute to Assembly.

© Yasmin Velloso .
© Monique Jaques .

Caracas-born Silvana Trevale has recently been named the first commissioned photographer in the Malala Fund x 1854 Against All Odds series, selected for her exemplary proposal around 16-year-old Katty from Venezuela. With the highest rate of inflation in the world, Venezuela’s fraught economic climate means young people often lack the resources to access higher education. Yet, despite her family’s ongoing financial struggles, Katty harbours fervent ambitions to attend the University of Caracas and become a doctor, so that she can make a tangible difference to society. The second commissioned photographer in the series, and the girl they plan to celebrate through their work, is set to be announced on 17 August.

© Mekbib Tadesse .

For the third and final call to entry, live until 2 September, the initial application is simple. Women and non-binary photographers based anywhere in the world are invited to submit 10 images that best reflect their photographic style (the images do not have to relate to the commission theme at this stage). Longlisted photographers will then be required to submit a 100-word proposal, which reflects the commission’s theme, and describes the girl or girls they wish to photograph. A shortlist of photographers will be compiled by judges from both Malala Fund and 1854; from here, the final photographer will be selected by Malala. 

“The only way we can create global peace,” Malala once said, “is through not only educating our minds, but our hearts and our souls.” Sometimes the thing that fuels change may be a statistic, a report, or an article. But often, the deepest impact comes from something we connect with on a more visceral level. Art. Imagery. Storytelling. That is why photography matters in Malala’s mission. Because, whether it’s a culture, the law, or a single person’s mindset — it might just change something.

The deadline for applying to the third and final call-for-entry in the Against All Odds commission series is 2nd September 2021. This commission is open exclusively to women and non-binary photographers who are 1854 Access Members, alongside women from non-high-income countries and Malala Fund programme countries, who are able to enter entirely free of charge.

Flossie Skelton

Flossie Skelton joined British Journal of Photography in 2019, where she is currently Commissioning Editor across awards, Studio and partner content. She does freelance writing, editing and campaign work across arts, culture and feminism; she has worked with BBC Arts, Belfast Photo Festival and Time’s Up. She is also an illustrator, with artwork published in Marie Claire, ES Magazine, Sunday Times Style and the Guardian.