femLENS, an Estonia-based non-profit association, is proud to announce the launch of the book “Unlearning the Ordinary: through a lens for the commons*” to celebrate five years of documentary photography workshops with women and girls from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds.

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“Unlearning the Ordinary: through a lens for the commons*” is documentation of what might, should or does matter.

The book features photo stories by women and girls from 9 countries and many more nationalities, their age ranging from 14–64, who participated in our workshops, and have documented stories important to them.

“They are the people living the realities that the media has been portraying through the prism of its own interests. The devastation of nature in Ukraine by overconsumption and loss of common values. The impact of migration on those who stayed and those who had to leave due to a breakdown of society through war, due to economic collapse or due to a perceived inability to have an effect on one’s own country. They are the young who want to not forget and the elderly who want to always remember what once mattered. They are women living with physical, as well as social, disabilities, looking for their own strength in a world that would rather victimise them than make space for more than one reality to exist. …

By Jekaterina Saveljeva

femLENS documentary photography workshops usually take place in small groups and face to face. The participants get any help they need immediately and the facilitator has control over the entire process.

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When in early March the Estonian government suspended all public events as protection against the novel Coronavirus, femLENS had just started a new series of workshops with teenage girls in Narva. We didn’t hesitate or miss a beat and moved our workshops online. It went so well that soon after finishing with that group we put together a fresh group. We had four new participants — women living in Mexico, DRC and England. We had a few connection problems here and there, but they were a success too. …

by Emily Cai

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The mission of femLENS is rooted in female empowerment and gender equality. Over the past years, femLENS has had the opportunity to work with women in countries such as Poland, Ireland, Ukraine, Lebanon, Germany, Spain, setting up photography workshops in order to help women tell their stories. As an organisation whose values stem from human rights, femLENS not only uses its platform to shine a light on issues that disproportionately affect women, such as human trafficking and migration, it also aims to raise awareness of the importance of women’s perspectives and experiences. Through documentary photography and storytelling, femLENS fights for gender equality by empowering women — but what exactly about this approach is effective in dismantling inequality? …

By femLENS

“Women’s rights are human rights.” We see these words on banners at protests and demonstrations, on signs at Women’s Marches, on T-shirts and stickers. It’s common sense — women are humans, and therefore their rights are human rights. But when we say that women’s rights are human rights, what exactly are we calling for? Back in 1948, the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Paris defined which fundamental rights were to be protected globally and was seen as one of the great moral achievements of human history. But over 70 years later, is the context in which this declaration was made still relevant and applicable in today’s world? And how has that context affected the way human rights are seen and protected? More importantly, has this concept of human rights distracted society from fighting not only for other rights such as constitutional rights, civil and political rights, or natural and legal rights, but for the equal rights of vulnerable populations including women and refugees? …

By Claire O’Brien

I was in a drug store in Alexandria, Virginia, when I witnessed the unhappy moment in an immigrant woman’s experience. She was young, 19 years old, maybe. She stood at the register, wearing the store’s blue polo shirt, her hijab framing her pretty features. She spoke English with confidence as she assisted shoppers purchasing deodorant, birthday cards and beer.

It was a busy afternoon, and a line formed at the checkout. A dozen customers and I did a decent job reflecting the ethnic diversity of the Washington, DC, area while waiting to pay for our items.

Then, the screaming started. …

By Kerriann Marden for femLENS

Life in the Gaza Strip is hard and getting harder. A recent United Nations report predicts that conditions there will be “unliveable” by the year 2020, just five months away. In male-dominated Gaza, where no one has enough, females have even less: less freedom of movement, less economic opportunity, less political power, and less hope of having their voices heard.

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Shatila refugee camp, Beirut, Lebanon. The camp was established in 1949 by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to accommodate hundreds of refugees who fled from northern Palestine after 1948. Photo by Faten Anbar/femLENS

But that’s where photography of and by women in Gaza can make a difference. Images captured by women photographers allow them to share their viewpoint, and allow us to see — with our own eyes — life as they experience it. In Gaza, women inhabit a space from which most of the world is restricted by religious or cultural prohibitions, geographic boundaries, language barriers, or gender norms. …

By Barbara Filaih

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By Halima Al Haj Ali, Shatila refugee camp, Beirut, Lebanon.

World Refugee Day is observed by 100 countries to raise awareness of the struggles faced by refugees around the world. According to the UNHCR Statistics in 2018, 70.8 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide because of persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations. There were staggering 37,000 new displacements every day in 2018, nearly 4 out of every 5 have fled to neighbouring countries.

The UNHCR encourages public involvement in events to mark the day such as attending World Refugee Day events, watching videos and sharing them on social media. The theme this year is Global Compact on Refugees, which calls for investment in communities that host refugees to help alleviate the pressure on the hosts and help refugees to become self-reliant. …

From March 11 to March 29, we will be leveraging the power of our dear femLENS community to spread the word of our work and garner support from even more people in order to raise the necessary funds to host femLENS workshops in Gaza.

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The workshops in Gaza will be an important step in the right direction for gender equality and representation in a conflict area. Diversity of ideas and voices is lacking within Palestinian society as well as in international coverage, and we hope to change that.

Support our Gaza Workshop campaign on GlobalGiving.org

The Macarena Project

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By ©Sara Serpilli, from the “Macarena Project” series.


Italian, but actually living in Dublin, Ireland.

What do you enjoy most about photography?

Photography is an intellectual activity, and at the same time is a physical activity. I am a very energetic person, and the fact to constantly move to frame, to change point of view might seem a very simple reason to love photography, but is for me very important. You have to be technical, artistic at the same time, to think and to do. Generally speaking, Photography allows you to deal with others, but the camera itself is big enough to “protect” you. …

Second Issue of femLENS ‘We See’ Magazine

By Jekaterina Saveljeva, Founder and Workshop Facilitator

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femLENS has had a busy year and I wanted to share some of our achievements with you and to wish you happy holidays!

Our goal this year was to publish two issues of We See magazine, a women-only documentary photography magazine that we first released on International Women’s Day March 8, 2018. We are proud to say that the second issue of We See is ready and you can order your physical copy of the magazine on Blurb.com just as the last time.

femLENS did two workshops this year, in Torrox, Spain, with a diverse group of women aged 46–64 living in a small village. Their focus was very much on the elderly population of the town, especially women, who they think are under-represented in the history of the village and the media available. …



We envision a world in which more women from diverse backgrounds are included into the visual storytelling of the world, through our photography workshops

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