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Images of Empowerment

New Rwanda Photo Collection Celebrates Women and Young Leaders

Today, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and Getty Images released more than 150 high-quality editorial images highlighting the power and vibrancy of women and youth in Rwanda. As part of the Images of Empowerment collection, these new images are available free of charge for non-commercial use. The new Rwanda collection can be accessed here.

Women and young people are often underrepresented or falsely represented in stories about health, leadership, and progress. This new collection aims to provide a positive visual narrative of women, young people, and other community leaders across Rwanda working to ensure quality sexual and reproductive health information and services reach all who need them. These individuals are portrayed here just as they are: in decision-making roles, accessing and providing quality reproductive health information and services, and as active participants in their families and communities.

Jojet is a third-year medical school student attending the second regional Medical Students for Choice conference. Medical students and practitioners from across Africa gather at the convening, where they learn best practices around contraceptive use and safe abortion.

The collection was photographed by Yagazie Emezi, a documentary photographer from Aba, Nigeria, whose images tell stories about African women and their health, sexuality, education, and human rights. She aims to capture a more natural and honest documentation of African life to counter the often used negative and tragic images of Africa.

For this project, Yagazie spent time with dozens of individuals who shared a glimpse into their lives and work with the following organizations that are advancing sexual and reproductive health throughout the country:

  • Health Development Initiative-Rwanda (HDI): a Rwandan nonprofit founded by physicians that strives to empower individuals, communities, and institutions to improve community health and development; this includes breaking the stigma around abortion and contraception.
  • The Imbuto Foundation: a Rwandan organization advancing health, education, and youth empowerment. One of the Foundation’s many initiatives is a program pairing schools and community youth clubs with health centers to offer young people sexual and reproductive health information and services.
  • Kasha: an e-commerce company that supports the confidential purchase of health and personal care products, such as contraceptives, pregnancy tests, and HIV oral self-test kits.
  • Medical Studies for Choice (MSFC): an international organization dedicated to supporting medical students seeking abortion and family planning education. Founded in 2012, MSFC’s Rwanda chapter was the first in Africa and remains one of the most active.
  • Youth Development Labs (YLabs): an international organization developing health and economic innovations with and for young people around the globe. YLabs employs a human-centered design process to develop digital and mobile-based sexual and reproductive health and life skills curriculum for young people in Rwanda.

After spending time with many individuals who make access to quality reproductive health information and services a reality, Yagazie reflected: “The women I photographed are health workers, community activists, students, mothers, and daughters with such joy and close bonds to their families. They are women helping other women. This is what they look like and it’s important for the world to see them as they truly are.”

The collection highlights the essential role of young people in defining, designing, and advocating for quality sexual and reproductive health information and services that meet their specific needs.

The Imbuto Foundation is a Rwandan organization dedicated to advancing health, education, and youth empowerment. It pairs health centers with schools and community youth clubs to facilitate the exchange of sexual and reproductive health services and knowledge.

The collection also captures the role of service providers and the importance of the client-provider relationship in ensuring that women and families receive accurate, unbiased information – as well as a variety of contraceptive method choices – in a private setting.

Health Development Initiative (HDI) was founded by Rwandan physicians with the goal of empowering individuals and communities to improve health and advance development. Wihogora Devotha, a nurse at HDI’s office, often counsels clients on family planning, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and pregnancy prevention. A couple, Niyitengeka Francine and Gasana Rodrigue, has come in to learn about the different contraceptive methods available to them.

We encourage you to browse the new collection, read the descriptions to learn about the individuals and organizations photographed, and use these images in your own storytelling about women, youth, and progress.

Image credit: Yagazie Emezi/Getty Images/Images of Empowerment

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