Meet Leica Women Foto Project’s 2023 winners

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© Mary Calvert.

This International Women’s Day, Leica announces the winners of its annual grant for women photographers: Mary F. Calvert, Anna Filipova, Eli Farinango and Greta Rico

The recognition of gender inequality in the photo industry may be growing, but the numbers aren’t changing fast enough. This makes initiatives such as the Leica Women Foto Project – an annual prize that celebrates and amplifies the female perspective in photography – all the more important in balancing the scales.

Now in its fourth edition, the project was set up in 2019 for women photographers in the US. This year, it expanded entries to residents of the US, UK, Mexico, and Canada (excluding Québec), where one applicant from each region is awarded a Leica SL2-S camera, a Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-70mm f/2.8 ASPH lens, and cash prize of $10,000.

“We were delighted to have the UK join the fourth iteration of the Leica Women Foto Project, and we received a wide body of work from extremely talented photographers,” says Lydia Beagelman, head of marketing and PR for Leica Camera UK. “This award highlights the female perspective and identifies the importance of capturing moments that bear witness to how we see and interact with our world. With the prizes, we aim to advance the development of underrepresented visual storytellers and provide additional support for their future projects.”

The award is just one part of Leica’s ongoing commitment to elevating marginalised voices. The organisation has also achieved this through grants and sponsorships with partners such as Women Photograph, Black Women Photographers, Photoville, Las Fotos Project, and the ConnectHER Film Festival. 

Find out more about each of the winners – Mary F. Calvert, Anna Filipova, Eli Farinango and Greta Rico – and their selected projects below.

© Mary Calvert.

Mary F. Calvert (US)

Left Behind: Suicide and Military Sexual Abuse

Mary F. Calvert uses photography to inform and influence social change by documenting gender-based human rights issues that are typically neglected by the wider media. In addition to commissioned work – for clients such as The New York Times, Human Rights Watch, National Geographic, and CNN – Calvert’s personal work focuses on underreported cases of sexual abuse in the US Armed Forces. 

Left Behind: Suicide and Military Sexual Abuse addresses the alarming number of suicides among Military Sexual Trauma (MST) victims in the US. According to research from the Department of Veterans Affairs, men with MST are 70 per cent more likely to die by suicide, and women with MST twice as likely. By showing the human toll behind these statistics, Calvert shines a light on this alarming trend, about which much of the American public is unaware.

© Greta Gomez Rico.

Greta Rico (Mexico)

Substitute Mother

In November 2017, Greta Rico’s cousin Fernanda was found dead on the street, bundled into a garbage bag with three gunshot wounds and evidence of sexual violence committed against her. Fernanda’s three year old daughter became orphaned, and was taken in by their cousin Siomara. This experience made Rico acutely aware of the lasting impacts of femicide, and the continued hardship experienced by the victims’ families. Working with children orphaned by femicide and their relationships with their new mothers, Rico’s project Substitute Mother captures the ripples of trauma caused by femicide in Mexico, where currently 11 women are murdered every day.

The project is part of Rico’s ongoing focus on issues of gender and human rights in her native Mexico, where she explores gendered violence, trauma and coloniality. Her work has been published in The New York Times and The Guardian, and she has also worked on collaborative projects with UN offices and civil society organisations.

© Elizabeth Farinango.

Eli Farinango (Canada) 


Eli Farinango is an Indigenous Kichwa artist, born in Ecuador and raised in Turtle Island, Canada. Her work explores indigenous healing practices, identity, migration, and community, while advocating for human rights and environmental justice. Wilkay is a deeply personal project that documents Farinango’s experience of living through abuse, and the impact it has on her relationship to her culture.

© Anna Fillipova.

Anna Filipova (UK)

Artic: The Darkest Hours

Anna Filipova has photographed in some of the world’s most remote landscapes, specialising in environmental and scientific issues in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Her latest project is set in Ny-Ålesund, the most northerly civilian settlement in the world. Located in Svalbard – a Norwegian archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole – the village is home to the largest laboratory for modern Arctic research, populated by a team of research scientists. Situated far from major sources of pollution, the air is said to be the cleanest in the world. In Artic: The Darkest Hours, Filipova documents scientific research in this peculiar village, where nightfall can last for more than 24 hours, Wi-Fi is banned, and all buildings remain unlocked in case one needs to hide from polar bears.

For more information about Leica’s Women Foto Award, head to the website.

Marigold Warner

Deputy Editor

Marigold Warner joined the British Journal Photography in April 2018, and currently holds the position of Deputy Editor. She studied English Literature and History of Art at the University of Leeds, followed by an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London. Her work has been published by titles including the Telegraph Magazine, Huck, Elephant, Gal-dem, The Face, Disegno, and the Architects Journal.