The women’s eyes in these pictures sparkle and their smiles are warm; they look as happy as any young woman in a picture. What stands out the most is the red cape with the Superman insignia they wear, a symbol meant to contradict the stereotype of them.
These are the brave women of Gaza as portrayed by photographer Ovidiu Tataru. While working with Doctors Without Borders in the territory for nine months, he created “Wonder Women," a series of photos to reveal the other side of Gaza women that is not shown in most major media.
“I wanted to give a voice to all the women in Gaza – genuine heroes living in a very difficult context: high unemployment rates, war, limited women rights,” Tataru wrote on his website.
“I also wanted to get rid of the stereotypical images of life in Gaza (destroyed buildings/poor people/etc) and to take photos of women laughing because, despite all odds there is hope for peace and a better life.”
The photo series emphasizes the pride the women have in what they do, whether it is mother who raised her three children who are all now in university, a dentist to-be who dances professionally, or an administrator for the United Nations Development Programme.
Ever since the Israeli siege and occupation, unemployment in Gaza has reached one of the highest levels in the world at 43%. The World Bank even stated that the economy of Gaza is “on the verge of collapse.” This unemployment rate has resulted in a staggering level of poverty, making life in Gaza very difficult.
However, the ones affected most by these conditions are women. With their husbands dead, in Israeli prison, or unemployed because of the siege, the women must take their place as the breadwinner and protector of the family. The lack of employment really puts a strain on the women’s lives, as the struggle to make ends meet gets harder every day.
These unsung heroes need to be seen by the wider population, and Tataru wants to show us through the photo series that these women are heroes and they should be celebrated as ones, not as the downtrodden victims we see in the mainstream media.
Aqila Putri is a sophomore studying at Wesleyan University, trying to pursue her degree in Economics and International Relations. Her daydreams consist of owning a bakery and a kitchen like Gordon Ramsay's. Hit her up at @aqilalistya to talk about food, cat, and social justice.