Capture gender equality through your lens and you could wake up in Sweden


    Sweden is trying to understand gender equality in South Africa and they are asking South Africans to help by telling the stories of a skewed society through the camera lens. MBALI ZWANE has the details of a new photo competition being run by the Swedish embassy in South Africa.

    “Gender as it functions today is a grave injustice. I am angry. We should all be angry. Anger has a long history of bringing about positive change. In addition to anger, I am also hopeful, because I believe deeply in the ability of human beings to remake themselves for the better.” ― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists

    Whether you’re a professional photographer with a DSLR or photo enthusiast with a camera phone, the embassy is asking South Africans to interpret “Gender Equality Today” with an expression of your choice to help them know how best to tackle the issue in South Africa. The photographs can be artistic, documentary, commercial, funny, sincere or angry, depending on which side of the bed you woke up on.

    Speaking to Al Jazeera last year, Margot Wallström, Sweden’s minister for foreign affairs spoke of her much touted “feminist” foreign policy.  She said,  “It is an analysis and also a practical tool. It’s not a magic wand. It is not a set list of political views or positions. The analysis has to do with the fact that even though we have this very ambitious goals and targets when it comes to, for example, the rights of the girl child – we have wonderful, almost poetic language in the Beijing declaration for example – but girls are discriminated against around the world.

    “It’s a kind of reality check, as an analysis of the world.”

    via GIPHY

    “We want to see the citizen’s perception of gender equality. We read statistics about inequality and violence against women and children but that on its own is not sufficient for us to have a perception of gender equality in SA,” the Swedish deputy head of mission, Karin Hernmarck Ahliny.

    “Understanding gender equality will assist us to approach and pursue our advocacy work in a conscious manner. It will enable us to properly apply feminist analysis in issues involving women while finding a way to fight for them. It’s not us telling you anything, it’s us asking that you show us what issues we should be discussing.”

    The finalists and winner will be named by a jury of renowned photographers and curators, including Lerato Bereng, curator and associate director at the Stevenson Gallery in Johannesburg, Swedish photographer and filmmaker Tora Mårtens, and Sweden’s Ambassador for Feminist Foreign Policy, Ann Bernes.

    The winner will be awarded a trip to Stockholm to meet with Sweden’s Minister for Culture and Democracy, Alice Bah Kuhnke. All finalists will have their photos exhibited and be invited to the grand opening of the exhibition. They will also have the chance of being published.

    Entries must be received on or before International Women’s Day, March 8th 2016, so if you want the chance to win a trip to Sweden, get snapping!

    For more information and questions, follow @SwedenInSA on twitter or check out their Facebook page. Competition guidelines available here.

    Featured image via Pixabay


    1. Don’t see how a picture of African women working in agriculture, captures “gender equality”, especially when many African cultures view agricultural effort as ‘women’s work while the men do very little that can be construed as ‘work’ at all. So pictures of men doing women’s work or work they traditionally view as that which should be performed by women, would speak greater volumes about whether or not ‘gender equality’ is being understood and practiced by the men of a particular culture. We should all know by now, especially the Swedes, that what can be conceived as work performed exclusively by women or men differs. depending on the level of education and sophistication of the culture. Similarly there has been research about how certain types of work in more sophisticated, industrialized societies, lose status which begins when more women enter a profession…like teaching for example. Fortunately that perception began to die as we began to understand sexism, sexual harassment and the need for humanity to treat each other equally.

    2. Isn’t it about time we call bullshit on these “enlightened” countries trying to export their values to us “savages”? The Swedes should rather go and fix their “vaunted” and condescending model for dealing with prostitution (that has actually made their sex workers more vulnerable to police violence and extortion). As long as we (or they) criminalize sex work any pretense at “gender equality” is nothing but a farce.


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